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Tricep dips are one of my favorite calisthenic exercises. With every rep, I really feel the focus that the dips put on my tricep muscles. What makes them even better is that you don’t even need any equipment for them (although it certainly helps!).
The tricep muscles are the biggest of all the arm muscles, so there is more ground to cover to build and strengthen them. Thus, it is extremely beneficial to perform tricep dip alternatives to ensure that you target as many tricep muscles as you can.
Depending on the type of tricep dip you do, you can target a much wider area of the upper arm! Read on for 5 Tricep Dip Alternatives to maximize your dips! All of these should be done until failure. Remember: always keep your core tight!
1. Dips between two platforms. (Beginner-Advanced)
You can perform this alternative with chairs, workout benches, step platforms, or anything other kind of platform that is raised at least a few inches off the floor. The most common way to do this dip is by having two platforms that are the exact same height, but if they are both different heights then that is fine too (you will just be targeting different muscles).
Place your palms on the edge of the platform behind you, facing away from your body. Prop your heels on top of the platform across from you. Using your arms, slowly lower your hips down to the floor while squeezing and contracting your triceps. Change the distance between the platforms depending on how challenging this is for you: closer together (with knees bent) to make it easier, further apart to make it harder.
2. Explosive Dips (Intermediate-Advanced)
This is a great variation because it can even be used along with other variations.
Using any type of dip platform (bars, the floor, a step, etc.), prepare your hands and feet (if not using dip bars) for your dip. After lowering yourself down, press your arms upward in a forceful, explosive movement. If you are performing this variation on a stable platform, then I strongly suggest actually pushing hard enough so that your palms leave the platform. Just be careful to catch yourself when gravity takes over and your body starts to fall!
(Bonus: If using dip or parallel bars, try doing a “clapping dip” at the apex of each rep! Just be careful to catch the bars safely every time.)
3. Korean Dips (Advanced)
Equipment: One stable bar
This alternative is meant to be built up to, as it can be both awkward for positioning and the move itself is very tough. A single, stable bar is needed for this, and depending on its location you’ll need enough room so you don’t hit your head on the ceiling. That said, it’s probably easiest to do this on a parallel bar outside.
First, slowly lift your rear end so that you are sitting on the bar. Grip the bar with your palms facing behind you. Move your but forward so that your arms are all that is holding you up your body and your legs are hanging down straight. Slowly lower your extended body with your chest pushed outward, while focusing on contracting your triceps as you lower. Then, lift your body back up with your arms, again focusing on your triceps.
If you are just trying this out, it is recommended that after one rep you sit back on the bar. Once you get more comfortable with this move, the lowering/lifting motion can actually become a rhythmic swinging motion. When you do this, your legs will swing underneath the bar with each rep.
(Bonus: Try the Korean Dip with palms facing forward for a different challenge!)
(For beginners: If you have a squat rack, lower the bar as far as it can go and do the Korean Dip with your feet on the floor)
4. Walking Dips (Intermediate)
Equipment: Parallel or dip bars
This is ideally done with stable parallel bars that are found in parks or gymnastics studios, but keep reading even if
you are using stable dip bars!
Perform a dip as normal. However, at the apex of the dip, move one hand forward on its parallel bar. Do this again with the next rep with your other hand. Doing this continuously will make you “walk” along the parallel bars.
If you have dip bars (on a power tower, etc.), you can still do this dip variation! Instead of moving your hands forward, simply lift up one hand at the apex of each rep. It’s almost the exact same move, but since you can’t move forward on the dip bars, you’re basically “walking in place.”
5. Straight Bar Dips (Intermediate-Advanced)
Equipment: Pullup bar or parallel bars
Ensure that there is enough space so you don’t hit your head if you’re doing this indoors!
Rest your chest on top of the bar, and slowly push yourself straight up while still leaning over the bar. Your chest should be directly above it. It is basically a pushup without support for your lower body because your legs are hanging down. Depending on the height of the bar, you may need to bend your knees. This alternative is an intense tricep workout, but it obviously gets the chest jacked too!
These are only five of many tricep dip alternatives! Stay tuned, because I will periodically add more variations to tricep dips for you to check out. As always, for an added challenge, strap on a weighted vest or belt! What are your favorite tricep dip alternatives? Please comment below!