A chest and tricep workout from beginner to advanced level. Dips are great for men to pack on some muscle mass, or for women to provide more support to the breast area.
Which exercise for the Chest and Triceps?
Whilst the bench press and push-up are usually the go-to exercise for working the chest, they can tend to overwork the front deltoids (shoulders) and under-work the pectorals (chest). One of THE best Chest and Tricep workouts you will experience is with progressive versions of Dips.
Some people give dips a bad rap for shoulder problems, but a lot of people end up with shoulder problems with benching. The key to safer dips, is to ensure you lean forward.
Dips are like an upper body squat — they’re a lot harder than they look! I’ve had some training clients that can easily bang out 20 push-ups, but find that they can’t do even 1 dip. However, with the assistance of some bands, even a complete beginner can do a dip workout.
I have some progressions below that will be astonishly challenging for those who find weighted versions easy, and will make your arms quiver like there’s no tomorrow
- Aim for 6-12 reps for 3-4 sets.
- Lower reps using heavier resistance can sometimes aggravate the shoulders, so be cautious with heavy weights.
- Lean forward with your torso — 45 degrees is ideal. This puts more emphasis on your chest, and less strain on your shoulders than an upright position.
- Hinge at the hips to put your feet inline with your head (or further in front), to balance your body, and contract your abs. If the ground is too low, then it’s ok to bend your legs, but still hinge at your hips.
- Keep your feet together.
- Bend your arms behind your body (rather than out to the side), otherwise you can experience shoulder pain.
Chest and Tricep Workout Progressions
- Please read through the progressions below, and then watch the video at the bottom to see a couple of them demonstrated.
- Work your way through from levels 1 to 8. You can skip level 3 weighted dips, if you don’t have the equipment.
1. Band Assisted Dips (for Beginners)
– Squeeze a resistance loop band between your hands, and rest your knees on the band.
– Lower by bending your arms 90 degrees — roughly where your shoulders are in line with your elbows.
2. Regular Dips on Parallel Bars
- As above, but without the band.
3. Weighted Dips
– Wear a dipping belt and plates.
– A decent goal to aim for is 50% of your bodyweight in plates
4. L-Sit Dips on Parallel Bars
– If you don’t have a dipping belt to add weight, you can make this exercise substantially harder, by staying in an L-Sit position the whole time.
– Hold your legs straight out in front of your body, horizontal with the ground. Stay in that position and start dipping.
– A slight forward lean is ok and will reduce your chances of shoulder injury.
5. Single Bar Dips
– You’ll feel more unstable than the parallel bar version.
– Lean forward a lot more on the way down, aiming to get your lower-chest to the bar.
– This is a great exercise to start learning the Muscle-Up.
6. Ring Dips
– No matter how how much weight you can strap around your waist when doing parallel bar dips, the first time you try the rings will be a humbling experience!
– Your arms will shake like crazy, as you fight to keep them close to your body. … and that’s before bending your arms. No wonder gymnasts have incredible physiques!
– Lower and aim for the top of the rings to reach your armpits.
7. Ring Dips — Rings Turned Out (RTO) at the Top
– If you thought transitioning from parallel bars to ring dips was challenging, then prepare to be humbled once again!
– This little twist not only works the chest and triceps, but puts tremendous strain on the biceps. If you have any kind of biceps injury at the moment, don’t attempt this exercise.
– Start at the top of the movement, by turning your palms to the front (RTO). Hold for a second, then turn them back to neutral (palms facing your body) and dip down. Get back into the RTO position again at the top.
8. Ring Dips, RTO the whole time
– When RTO at the top becomes too easy 🙂 keep the RTO position the whole time.
– This is insanely difficult.
Try some of these exercises out on your next Chest and Tricep Workout. George
Be part of the discussion and add a note in the Comment box near the bottom of this page.
George D. Choy
Personal Trainer & Calisthenics Instructor
Gymnacity in Oxted, Surrey, United Kingdom
This blog post included a collaboration with Xorbars. I’m a big fan of their outdoor pull-up bars, as I’ve got a customised Xorbars Multi-Gym installed in my garden. For more information or to purchase, visit xorbars.co.ukAll views and opinions are my own. Best Chest and Tricep Workout