Alternative to Dips That Will Scale Up Your Triceps Level | ACE’s Ranked Exercises

A guy doing alternative to dips in a swimming pool

If you want bigger arms, you better focus on growing your triceps. The formula is simple, right? Not only is it simple, but also it is backed by the fact that triceps cover roughly 75% of the arms and is larger than biceps. Therefore, it has more ability to grow in size and add strength to your arms.

Most of the triceps exercises involve isolation or compound elbow extension movements. Cable push-downs, triceps extensions, overhead dumbbell extension are some triceps exercises which isolate the triceps. On the other hand, some compound movements like pushups, Bench press (close grips), and dips are proven effective for triceps training.

However, the best triceps exercises are the ones which involves pushing movements that allows to work through the full-range of contraction. The most effective approach to training your triceps will be to incorporate those exercises which demand fully straightening of elbow with the arms behind your body.

Why alternative to dips?

Dips are, hands down, one of the best triceps exercises I have ever done. Besides the challenges they pose for you, they’re the perfect functional movement for building triceps that don’t even require much equipment.

However, for beginners it is really challenging exercises. Firstly, it is simply hard to learn balancing on dips bar and secondly it takes a lot of knowledge about position and range of motion to keep yourself stable so you don’t harm your shoulders.

The thing is that if you’re having a hard time to do dips on parallel bars, you don’t have to worry because there are a lot of other triceps strengthening movements out there which are backed by research performed by American Council on Exercise (ACE) .

RankTop Triceps Exercises
1Triangle Push-up
2Kickbacks
3Dips
4Overhead Triceps Extensions
5Rope Pushdowns
6Bar Pushdowns
7Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions
8Closed-grip Bench Press

Check out the list of Top triceps Exercises by ACE

But whatever be the case, if you don’t have an access to dip stations or you cannot do dips due to lack of strength or shoulder mobility issues, you can reap the same benefit by doing the substitute exercises for triceps dips.

Little Insight On Triceps Dips

Triceps dips are by far the best exercise to boost the size and strength of your arms. It strengthens and tones your triceps muscles making them look more sexier.

There are three variations: Bench Dips, Machine Dips, and Bar dips. Machine dips is one of the easiest version of dips and bar dips are the hardest one to perform.

If you’re a beginner, triceps dips are very tough to perform, nearly impossible if your arms and shoulders are weak. In such cases, you can perform machine dips which is the easiest variation of triceps dips and it maintains your form throughout the movement.

Major Alternative To Dips For Triceps

1. Close Grip Bench Press

If you perform it correctly, close grip bench press are the staple exercise for your triceps. It is a compound movement that targets all the three heads of your triceps.

The form is pretty similar to bench press. Thus, it can be familiar and easy for most people to perform it correctly. Moreover, it will also enhance your bench press strength and strengthen your shoulders.

The noteworthy advantage of close grip bench press is that the bench provides you the support for your upper body and shoulders which allows you to place all the loads in your triceps.

Despite the fact that heavier weight hits your triceps hard, you should pay attention to mind muscles connection by lifting moderate weight, unless you’re an advanced lifter.

Close Grip Bench Press as an Alternative to dips

Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor and grip the barbell with your hands around shoulder-width apart. They can be slightly closer than that, but don’t move them too close together or the set-up will become unstable and you’ll risk an injury to your wrists. Brace your core and squeeze your shoulder blades together to stabilise your body. Lower the bar slowly and press up powerfully. Then bring the bar back down towards your sternum. Keep your elbows close to your sides to emphasise your triceps and don’t arch your back.

How to do Close Grip Bench Press?

2. Triceps Pushdowns 

Triceps are often overlooked muscles, but they require equal or even more priority than your biceps, infact.

For developing triceps, you dont have to depend on triceps dips and risk your shoulders. Instead, you can perform triceps pushdowns as it isolates your triceps more and possess more safety for your shoulders too.

You can perform cable, bar, or banded triceps pushdowns. The move is beginner friendly which is easy to perform at your gym, or even at your home.

Triceps Pushdowns as an alternative to dips

1.With your feet shoulder width apart, face a pulley machine with an attached rope, v-bar, or solid straight bar hanging at chest height.
2.If you are using a rope, grab the rope towards the butt end with your palms facing together. If you are using a bar, grab the bar with your palms facing down.
3.Make sure your chest is high, your shoulder blades are together, and you are bending slightly forward to initiate the exercise.
4.With your elbows tucked in tight to your sides, bring the attachment down until your arms are fully extended.
5.Pause at the bottom of the repetition and flex your triceps for maximum contraction. Make sure you maintain a neutral wrist position the entire time.
6.Slowly release the weight and return to the starting position.

How to do Triceps Pushdowns?

3. Triceps French Press

Instead of doing triceps extension, different bodybuilders have been substituting it for partial tricep extension. Although close grip bench presses and dips seem the most easiest option, they don’t provide the most muscle stimulation in your triceps.

Performing french press in targets the long head of your triceps but it is so easy to mess up with the form while doing triceps french press.

There are some points to take care of while doing triceps french press. While doing triceps extension, avoid completely locking out your elbows because that’s not the long head’s job and it simply causes unwanted issues on your elbows.

Moreover, a study showed that doing partial range of motion extension exercises increases muscles size by about 49% on constrast to full range of motion which was only able to increase by 28%.

Thus, doing triceps press in force angle exploited position with minimal joint stress, you can expect an insane pump.

French Press as an Alternative to dips

1.Slide forward in an upright seat or set the adjustable bench one notch shy of 90 degrees.
2.Grip the bar with a false ( thumbless ) narrow grip.
3.Make sure the elbows face in towards each other as much as possible – they shouldn’t flare out.
4.Let the weight of the bar pull the elbows backwards (towards the wall behind you) and then “drag” it forward while pressing up over the back of your head. Use a controlled negative and repeat.

How to do Triceps French Press?

4. Overhead Triceps Extensions

Overhead triceps extensions can strengthen the muscles of triceps brachii. It only requires dumbbells and it can be performed by standing or lying on a bench. You can even perform this at your home if you have a dumbbell.

Overhead triceps extensions helps your triceps to get contracted and actually it is an isolation movement which targets your triceps alone. Thus, overhead extensions are good alternative to dips.

What’s more convincing is that the study done by ACE using EMG machine found out that overhead triceps extension are fourth most effective exercise for recruiting the fibres of three heads of your triceps.

Tricep Extension as an Alternative to dips

1.With feet shoulder-width apart and core tight, hold a dumbbell with both hands
2.Lift the dumbbell until your arms are fully extended with palms facing the roof and elbows pointing forward. This is the start position
3.Bending at the elbows and squeezing your triceps, slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head
4.Slowly return to start position and repeat

Variations

  • Standing or seated overhead triceps extensions
  • Seated Machine Triceps Extension 
  • Lying Triceps Extensions
  • Suspension Trainer Triceps Extension

How to do Overhead Triceps Extension?

5. Triceps Kickbacks

Triceps kickbacks are commonly performed triceps exercise which is also ranked by ACE triceps study as one of the top three most effective moves for triceps.

As Kickbacks are less challenging for your shoulders and core, it wan’t hard for us to include it in our list of alternative to dips. Thus, it can be a good choice for beginners to learn the basics of targeting your triceps.

Nevertheless, as form matters the most in every exercise, the challenging part of this movement for someone can be to position the body for perfect triceps isolation while keeping it easy on your shoulders.

Tricep Kickbacks as an Alternative to dips

1.Stand facing a low pulley cable machine.
2.Bend forward slightly at the waist so your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
3.Engage your core and keep your head, neck, and spine in one line.
4.Place one hand on your thigh for support.
5.On an exhale, engage your triceps as you slowly extend your arm back as far as you can, keeping your arm in tight by your side.
6.Pause here, then inhale as your return your arm to the starting position.
7.Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps

How to do Triceps kickbacks?

6. Bench Triceps Dips

The bench triceps dips can really be a go-to substitute for bar dips. Although it is a simple bodyweight exercise, it can be properly executed to target your triceps, and chest and anterior deltoids too.

The best part of bench triceps dips is it is for all fitness levels and does not require any sophisticated gym equipment also. With just an elevated surface which can be a slab, bench, or even your stairs, you are all set to perform easy and effective triceps dips.

If you’re looking for scaling your triceps stregth, all you’ve to do is perform bench triceps dips and progress slowly into adding weights over your lap. This way you can make your way into challenging parallel bar dips.

Bench Dips as an Alternative to dips

1.Sit down on a bench, hands next to your thighs. (You can also perform a bench dip off a stair or other elevated surface; the same steps apply.)

2.Walk your feet out and extend your legs, lifting your bottom off the bench and holding there with extended arms.

3.Hinging at the elbow, lower your body down as far as you can go, or until your arms form a 90-degree angle.

Push up through your palms back to start.

How to do Bench Triceps Dips?

7. Diamond Pushups

Diamond pushups are an awesome triceps strengtheners – which are way more harder than regular pushups. Due to narrow positioning of your hands, you triceps are completely isolated, however, you become less stable due to narrow base of your palms.

Diamond pushups also called triangle pushups are ranked by ACE as the best triceps movement that produces the most muscles activity in your triceps.

This variation of pushups recruits more of your triceps than chest to perform all the work of maintaining form and stability, which is a good thing as you’re looking for a substitute for a triceps dips.

Besides that, diamond push-ups can,sometimes, be hard on your elbows and can get you injured. Thus, Beginners opting in this alternative to dips may not go crazy on doing diamond puhsups if it doesnot feel natural on your joints. 

Diamond Pushups as an Alternative to dips

1.Get on all fours with your hands together under your chest. Position your index fingers and thumbs so they’re touching, forming a diamond shape, and extend your arms so that your body is elevated and forms a straight line from your head to your feet.

2. Lower your chest towards your hands, ensuring you don’t flare your elbows out to the sides and keeping your back flat. Stop just before your chest touches the floor, then push back up to the starting position.

How to do Diamond Pushups?

8. Close grip Pushups

Although pushups are not so very great exercise when you advance in bodybuildig, close grip pushups hit your muscles differently than regular pushups.

Close grip pushups are analogous to close grip bench press. By narrowing the grips under your chest, you can target your triceps instead of chest.

Like triceps dips, close grip pushups are the multi-joint movement, however, it can make your arms considerably stronger provided that you perform several other pressing exercises along with it.

However, considering muscle activity, close grip pushups activate your triceps to greater extent than triceps dips. Its not only me telling this but research performed by American Council of Exercise(ACE) has proven it.

Diamond Pushups as an Alternative to dips

1.Keeping your body straight and your elbows tucked in, inhale as you lower your chest onto your hands.
2.Exhale as you push your body back up to the starting position.
3.Repeat.

How to do Close Grip Pushups?

Alright, that’s pretty much the list of effective exercise for triceps. However, if it is the cases that you’re looking for alternative for dips for chest, I’ve another list for you.

Major Alternative to Dips For Chest

1. Decline Bench Press

Decline bench press is particularly famous for targeting lower chest muscles and is an awesome way to add more definition in your pecs.

This is a simple variation of flat bench press which activates your lower chest muscles as you push the weight away from you.

It provides you with greater range of motion and allows you to intensify your focus on stimulating chest muscles. Some trainees also explain that it reduces a lot of the strain on your lower back than regular bench press.

How to perform Decline Bench Press?

2. Pec Flys

Dumbbell Chest fly us an awesome versatile exercise which can be done on machine, cables, and with dumbbell too. This upper body movement strengthens your chest and shoulders.

The increased range of motion that it provides makes it an excellent chest opener. You don’t even need heavy weights for reap all the benefits of flys – better use light weights or even bare hands can do the work for you.

If you do dumbbell chest flys in a proper way, it can give your chest muscles quite a good touch of stretch. However, going too fast and using heavy weights are in no less risk of injuring their pectoral fibres or shoulder.

How to perform Pecs Flys?

3. Pushups

Pushups are the starting point of all strength training routine. Some are able to drop 100 reps of clapping push ups while some are hardly capable of doing 20 regular pushups. It does not matter as you can progress your way up. The thing is pushups are the most basic of all strength training exercises.

Pushups are the most practical go-to bodyweight movement if you don’t have an access to gym. The perks of pushups is that you can alter the toughness by altering the hand positions and it will increase your strength for sure.

The most prominent pushup variations which can help you build your chest are:

  • Wide hands Push-ups
  • Decline Pushups
  • Traditional Pushups

How to perform Pushups?

4. Dumbbell Floor Press

The dumbbell floor press works pretty much the same muscles as flat bench press – chest, triceps, and anterior shoulder. They are awesome alternative to chest dips and it can be performed at home too. The downside of dumbbell floor press is its reduces the range of motion than bench press.

But you can leverage the benefit of doing presses on floor as you can use challenging weights and improve your bench press strength.

Dumbbell Floor Press are proven to be an effective chest mass builder and it also enhances your lockout strength. It boosts your chest performance and provides an option to people with shoulder injuries to perform chest workout safely.

How to perform Dumbbell Floor Press?

Safety Tips For These Alternative to Dips

All of the exercises mentioned in this article may not be suitable for your if you have shoulder mobility issues or weak shoulder issues. These instabilities in your shoulders get worse if you put stress on them.

In such cases, you may need to restrict the range of motion and perform in such a way that your shoulders are least involved.

You may opt for exercises like the french press, triceps push-downs, machine dips etc. which keep your shoulders in strong and stable position.

Complete List of Alternative To Dips

Dumbbell Exercises

  • Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
  • Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Standing Dumbbell Chest Fly
  • Dumbbell Hex Press
  • Dumbbell Skull crushers 
  • Dumbbell Floor Press
  • Overhead Dumbbell Extension
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks

Bodyweight Exercises

  • Diamond Pushups
  • Close Grip Push-Ups
  • Chair / Bench Triceps Dips
  • Classic Pressup
  • Kneeling bodyweight exercise
  • Bodyweight triceps extensions

Cable Fly Machine

  • Bar Triceps Pushdowns
  • Cable Machine Tricep Pushdowns
  • Rope Overhead Extension
  • Overhead Tricep Extension
  • Rope tricep Pushdowns

Resistance Bands Exercises

  • Single-Arm Resistance Band Extensions
  • Resistance Band Extensions

Bench Press Machine

  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Ring or Straps Chest Press

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed the list as much as I enjoyed preparing them for you. Actually, finding alternatives that can target exactly the same muscles is pretty much hard for anyone. However, if you’re a beginner or if you’re looking for adding some variety in your workout, then you can use some of these exercises to them.

As far as the effectiveness of dips are concerned, you can make your triceps training equally effective by choosing the proper exercise by focusing on the target muscles.

Although you cannot load your triceps as heavily as dips, try to incorporate the movement which is challenging for your body and easy for your elbow joints and shoulders at the same time.

Give it a try and let me know which exercises you chose for your triceps workout.

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