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7 Dumbest Dip Mistakes Sabotaging Your Triceps Growth!


Posted by Scott_Herman - April 28th, 2017

Tricep dips are one of my favorite exercises because they not only target all threes heads of your triceps, but because you perform the movement with your palms facing in which places a bit more emphasis on the LATERAL head (which is the outside head of the triceps). So when you guys are walking around flexing, that’s the head you’re showing off the most when you’re trying to out angle your friends!

MISTAKE #1: Not Warming Up Your Shoulders

A lot of people complain about shoulder pain, and convince themselves that the reason their shoulders hurt is because they were using too much range of motion (ROM) – going down too far. Let me make this clear, doing full ROM DOES NOT cause injuries. Doing full ROM without warming up your shoulders is what causes injuries.

It’s important to make sure your muscles are nice and loose before you perform any exercises, but more specifically for the shoulder, you need to warm up the synovial fluid in your shoulder joint. Synovial fluid is what allows the bones to glide across each other nice and smooth. When it’s cold, this fluid is like sticking a spoon in a jar of honey – it’s very hard to move. When you start warming up your shoulders, it drops the viscosity levels down, and the synovial fluid becomes more like sticking a spoon in water – very easy to move.

Don’t expect full ROM with tight shoulders… period.

MISTAKE #2: Wrong Hand Placement

When you’re trying to do dips to target your triceps, you want to make sure that you’re keeping your arms as close to your body as possible. You also want to keep your hands as parallel as possible. If you have a dip station where the bars fray out, you need to grab as close to the front as you can. This allows your palms to stay facing each other. This will keep things nice and tight, and allow you to be at your strongest.

You also have to make sure you are keeping your wrists straight. You may not feel any pain when doing bodyweight dips with a bent wrist, but as soon as you start doing weighted dips, you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on your wrist joint, which can lead to a number of issues in the future. Therefore it’s important that you start doing dips with proper hand placement right away – with a straight wrist. Let the energy flow all the way through, and don’t create a bottleneck at the wrist joint that will cause pain in the future.

As you lift heavier and heavier, it is a good idea to use wrist wraps, to help alleviate some of the stress in the wrist area.

MISTAKE #3: Not Training In Full Range Of Motion

Now that we’ve covered the first two mistakes, you should know what you need to do in order to train in a full ROM. People like to say going all the way down is too dangerous, or that they got injured from going all the way down. The real reason it is dangerous or can cause an injury, however, is if you don’t warm up properly, or have people who do half reps for years, end up doing weighted dips, and then one day decide to use full ROM and blow their shoulders out.

Why does this happen? Years of training doing half reps created weakness in the bottom half of the movement. On top of that, if you want to maximize muscle damage, you get the most amount of muscle breakdown in the negative portion of the movement. So, when you start at the top, that descent is your chance to maximize the amount of muscle damage that you’re going to attack your triceps with.

This is especially true when you start doing my cheat and recover reps. You’re not going to maximize the amount of overload you can place on your triceps if you can’t get the full ROM on the eccentric portion of the movement when you have a heavy load strapped to your waist. You HAVE to train yourselves to do full ROM.

MISTAKE #4: Not Keeping Your Chest Up

In the whole ROM on dips, you need to keep your chest up. A lot of people will do dips for triceps, and they’ll have their chest up at the top of the movement, but as soon as they go down past halfway, they start to lean forward over the bar. You don’t want to do that, you want to keep your chest up as much as possible, that’s going to keep maximum tension on your triceps throughout the entire ROM.

Start with your chest up at the top position, and make sure you stay that way once you get to the bottom position. This is the number one reason why it’s so important to warm up your shoulders. If you’re shoulders are tight, you’re going to feel a lot of tension and stress in your shoulders when you’re trying to keep your chest up at the bottom of the movement.

MISTAKE #5: Not Locking Out At The Top

So often in the gym, you will see dudes do tricep dips, and then they’ll give you the excuse that they don’t go all the way to the top of the movement because they want to ‘keep tension’ in their triceps. If someone ever says that to you, especially on YouTube, you should just click away from their video, because one of the main functions of your triceps is ELBOW EXTENSION. If you’re not fully extending your arms, and fully locking out your elbow, you’re not fully maximizing the use of your triceps throughout the movement when you do a dip.

For those of you who say there’s no tension in the triceps anymore when your arms are fully locked out, I want you to strap 100lbs to your waist, then get into the top position of a dip (with your arms fully extended), and hold the position for as long as you can. See just how fried your triceps are from doing that, it will prove my point.

Now when you go to the gym, you’ll see people doing little half reps, and they kind of look dumb doing it, usually with 90lbs strapped to their waist to try and look cool and try to look big. But for those of you who want to actually utilize the exercise to get big triceps, you’re going to have to get that full extension. And I’m not saying that when you get to the top, to stop just before full lockout, I want full lockout. There’s a big difference between the two, especially in terms of tricep activation. By locking out at the top, you will also be giving yourself the ability to really control the negative for your next rep. For those wanting to do my cheat and recover method, to fully maximize the negative you will have to pause at the top and take a second to reset yourself, reset your breath and keep your core as tight as possible to handle the cheat reps.

MISTAKE # 6: Your Body Is Too Loose

You want to keep your body as solid as possible, so that the only two things that are moving are your elbows and rotating through your shoulders. That’s it. Everything else should be as stiff as possible. The way you accomplish that is by flexing numerous parts of your body. We talked about keeping a tight core before, but you also want to keep your glutes nice and tight, and you’re going to flex your quads as well. As you go up and down, you want to keep your elbows in as close to your body as possible, and you’re also going to cross your ankles.

Once you’re in the starting position, you’re going to take in a breath, keep your core nice and tight, you’re going to flex your glutes, flex your quads, and then the reason why you’re going to keep your arms in, is because when your arms are wide, it gives you room to sway side to side. You don’t want any side to side sway, you only want to be going up and down. Some people when they don’t have their legs crossed also have a tendency to go in and out, or swing forward and back for momentum. So you want to cross your ankles, that’s going to help you flex your glutes and core a bit more as well. This will all allow you to stay in that one plane of motion.

MISTAKE # 7: Not Progressing With The Lift

Just like any other muscle group, if you want to see growth and you want to see increases in strength, you have to progress with the movement, especially if you want to start utilizing my cheat and recover method. Now I know a lot of you may not be able to do a bodyweight dip yet, let alone a weighted dip, so I’m going to explain to you where you should start, and how to progress from there.

If you can’t do bodyweight dips yet, you’re going to start by doing bench dips. You’re going to do bench dips until you can complete 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps on your own. Once that starts to get pretty easy, the next progression is weighted bench dips. You can literally take a weight plate and stack it on your legs, and utilize that to add more resistance.

Once you master those, you’re going to come over to your dip station and start doing your bodyweight dips. A lot of you still may not be able to complete 8-10 reps on your own, so you have a few different options. If you have a machine in your gym which displaces your weight, you can use that, and if you don’t have that you can take a band and put it around the arms of the dip station to help displace some of your weight. Now if you don’t want to use a band, and want to do it on your own, you can self-spot yourself by making sure your feet can touch the ground, and you can jump off your toes into the top position.

The clear progression from there is weighted dips, which you can also do a few different ways. The easiest way would be to use a weighted vest, but if you don’t have access to a vest you can use a dip belt which goes around your waist with a plate attached to it. Lastly, if you don’t have those, you can grab a dumbbell and put it between your legs and hold it there by crossing your legs. Do whatever you can to make sure you’re maximizing this exercise, always progressing, and always overloading on the eccentric portion of the movement so you start seeing some serious muscle growth, as well as increases in strength as well.


So now you guys should have everything you need to REALLY push your triceps training with dips to the next level. Proper form is key to growing safely, and getting the most out of one of the best exercises for your triceps.

Related Videos:

7 Dumbest Tricep Dip Mistakes Sabotaging Your Triceps Growth! | STOP DOING THESE!

5 Dumbest Dumbbell Bicep Curl Mistakes Sabotaging Your Bicep Growth! | STOP DOING THESE!

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