If you want to tone your arms, building your triceps should be one of your top priorities. Triceps dips are a simple exercise, and they work wonders for your arms and back. But that doesn't mean they are easy to do, especially if you lack upper-body strength. Although it's obvious that the target of triceps dips is on your arms, they also stimulate the chest muscles more than you might think.
Performing a few sets of triceps dips at the gym can give you an exhausting upper-body workout. The exercise targets your triceps, pectoralis muscles, rhomboids and traps. The American Council on Exercise sponsored a 2011 study on effective triceps exercises, ranking dips among the top three most effective exercises measured in the study.
Targeting the Chest
Dips do work your pectoralis muscles and your deltoids, the major chest flexor muscles, but when you perform traditional dips, these muscles support your triceps, which bear the brunt of the force. If you really want to target your chest muscles, modify your angle for chest dips by bending your knees and flaring your elbows out wide as you lean forward into the dip. Using widely spaced bars can help target your chest more effectively.
Dips have their rewards, but like any good strength exercise, there are risks involved. When it comes to dips, the risks actually outweigh the rewards to many experts. In an article published on PreventDisease.com, dips are listed as one of "Four Exercises to Modify or Avoid." Because of the weight and angle of the exercise on your AC shoulder joint, many health-care professionals are wary of recommending dips as part of a strength-training routine.
If you'd like to add dips to your workout routine, do some research to see whether or not they'll be too much for your shoulders, especially if you have previous injuries. There are plenty of other exercises that can target your chest and triceps more effectively than dips. The 2011 ACE-sponsored study listed simple triangle pushups as the most effective exercise they measured.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.