Tricep dips

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What it’s good for Strengthens the back-​of-​upper-​arm muscles and helps main­tain shoulder flex­ib­il­ity. Helps com­bat the look of bingo-​wings. Everyday bene­fits include:

  • Pushing your­self up from low sofas and chairs
  • Pushing open heavy doors
How often to do it Three times a week
Equipment you’ll need A solid, immov­able low bench or heavy low wooden chest

Note: tri­cep dips are a use­ful way to strengthen the backs of your arms without using dumb­bells, but you do need the right kind of low edge to work on: some­thing solid and safe. A park bench seat is ideal. If you don’t have some­thing solid and low, try press-​ups on knees or arm raises, straight up instead.

Lowering body off edge of bench using armsSitting perched on edge of a bench, hands holding sides of seat

  • Perch on the edge of the bench with your legs hip-​width apart, knees bent, feet for­wards and heels under knees. Don’t have your feet too close to the bench
  • Place the heels of your hands on the bench beside you, facing for­wards with fin­ger­tips over the edge
  • Slide body for­wards until your bot­tom is just off the bench, so you are sup­port­ing your­self on your arms
  • Keeping your body upright, bend elbows to lower your bot­tom straight down just in front of the bench
  • Stop just short of the ground (or wherever you feel your arms will sup­port you)
  • Push down to raise your body up until arms are almost straight and your bot­tom is back at seat level
  • Without sit­ting, start lower­ing again for your next repeat

Aim to do 12 repeats without rest. This is tough, so start off with as many as you can man­age, even if it’s only a couple. Make a note and try to do one more the next time, build­ing up to a full set of 12 repeats.

alert sign with exclamation markCaution: Some people may find this exer­cise very uncom­fort­able for their shoulders. If so, try press-​ups on knees instead; but also start doing shoulder loosen­ing and chest stretch exer­cises to reduce tight­ness at the front of your shoulders.

Varying the exer­cise for more chal­lenge

Once you can do 12 steady repeats, you need to make the exer­cise a bit harder to con­tinue strength­en­ing your muscles. Your first goal is to make sure you are lower­ing your bot­tom down smoothly to just short of the ground and then push­ing right back up again. After that, try these pro­gres­sions in order of dif­fi­culty:

The pro­gres­sions

1. Add a second set of 12 repeats
Rest for at least 3 minutes before your second set, to give the muscles time to recover

2. Slow it down
A slow count of 3 going down and 4 com­ing back up makes the exer­cise harder

Perched on bench with legs farther away3. Lengthen your body pos­i­tion
Before you start, place your feet farther away from the bench. This makes the work quite a lot harder. Hardest of all is to slide your legs out until they are straight and you are rest­ing on your heels as your start­ing pos­i­tion – bring the legs together for this ver­sion.

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