Sometimes it’s all about getting massive, sleeve-splitting upper arms, and to do that you need to start training your triceps.

People tend to focus on their biceps when bulking up their guns, but the triceps are a bigger muscle group than their glamorous, front-of-arm counterparts, so if your aim is impressive size then neglecting them is pure folly.

The triceps are so called because they are made up of three heads – the lateral head, the medial head, and the long head – all of which need to be worked to increase strength and size in your upper arms. Fortunately you can work all three heads at the same time if you pick the right exercise, and the triceps dip is that exercise.

Read on for the full guide to this classic bodyweight exercise, including several variations to increase the challenge once you’ve mastered the basic version, variations that can help you to hit a new bench press PB as well as better fill out your T-shirt sleeves, you need. Why? Once you’re dipping on parrallel bars (or rings), the triceps dip is one of the toughest moves you can do without weights, because one relatively small muscle group must lift and lower your entire bodyweight.

And the rewards are huge. “Your triceps are your dominant ‘push’ muscle to straighten your arms, and are far more powerful and useful for hitting a big bench than the pecs,” says Paul Carter, lifelong lifter and founder of “Make your triceps as strong as possible and you’ll get stronger in all the big pressing moves and add serious size to your arms.” Continue reading to find out how to master the triceps dip.

How To Do Triceps Dips

Wherever and however you dip, the key is arm position. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart on the surface you are dipping from, with your arms straight. Squeeze your core and glutes then raise your chin and chest to keep your body tight. From there, start the move by bending your elbows. Dip down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle.

Pause at the bottom for a one or two count, then press back up powerfully, ensuring you keep your core and glutes tight to prevent your legs swinging. Don’t fully lock out your arms at the top; keeping a slight bend in your elbows at the top forces your triceps to work far harder.

To expose your triceps to as much time under tension as possible – a key stimulus for adding new muscle tissue – lower your body as slowly as you can. Aim for two seconds at first, building up over time to four seconds. Get as low as you can without stressing your shoulders.

Three sets of eight to ten dips, perhaps pushing the third set until you physically can dip no more, should leave your upper arms in tatters for a day or two.

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