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The best alternative to tricep dips, bench dips, and chair dips

Discover the 9 best tricep dip replacements and bench dip alternatives for building muscle.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A man demonstrating a good alternative to tricep dips and bench dips

This guide proposes a variety of alternatives to tricep dips for building muscle and gaining strength. Note that these tricep dip alternatives are replacements for both bench dips and upright tricep dips performed on a pair of dipping bars.

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The 9 best alternatives to tricep dips

If you’re looking for a good alternative exercise for tricep dips, then be sure to check out these replacements.

1. Close grip bench press

A man performing a close grip bench press

The close grip bench press is an excellent tricep dip alternative for building mass and getting really strong because, as a barbell exercise, you can keep on adding weight to the close grip bench press.

Although the CGBP still works the chest and shoulders to an extent, it’s very much a triceps-dominant exercise that will strengthen the backs of your arms and increase your pressing power.

Just make sure that you don’t exaggerate your grip. Doing the exercise with your hands together will make you weaker and strain your wrists. Instead, to train your triceps effectively, you want to tuck your elbows into your sides and use a slightly narrower than normal grip.

Check out our close grip bench press vs dips comparison to learn more.

2. Diamond push-ups

A man doing diamond push ups

Diamond push-ups are a great tricep dip replacement because, like dips, you can do diamond push-ups without any weights. But just because diamond push-ups are a bodyweight exercise doesn’t mean that they’re easy—far from it.

Diamond push-ups are like a bodyweight close grip bench press, meaning that they have excellent mass building potential. If you can do 20-30 diamond push-ups non-stop, then you’ll have some very good tricep development indeed.

Diamond push-ups are definitely a step up from bench dips because they use a higher percentage of your body weight as resistance. They’re also safer for your shoulders than upright triceps dips because they don’t put your rotator cuffs in a compromising position.

See our diamond pushups vs dips for more information on how these exercises stack up against each other.

3. Bodyweight tricep extension

A man doing bodyweight triceps extensions for calisthenics

The bodyweight tricep extension is a good ​​tricep dip substitute that few people are aware of. Best of all, the bodyweight extension is even more convenient than a tricep dip because it requires absolutely no equipment.

Essentially, you just get into a push-up position but with both your forearms and hands on the floor (and further forward than usual). Then, you simply drive your hands into the floor and flex your triceps to push yourself up. The rep is complete once your elbows are locked out.

This bodyweight bench dips alternative might sound like an easy exercise. But it’s actually really tough on your triceps because you’re basically doing a push-up but without any help from your chest and front delts.

4. TRX tricep extension

A man doing TRX tricep extensions with a suspension trainer

The suspension trainer tricep extension, which you can also do on gymnastics rings, is an excellent alternative to tricep dips because you can easily modify the movement to make it easier or more challenging.

To make your triceps work harder, move your feet further away from the handles and put the handles in a lower position (this will increase the percentage of your body weight that’s used as resistance).

To make the movement easier, bring the handles further up from the ground and maintain a more upright torso position with your feet closer to the handles.

5. Lying tricep extension

A man doing a lying tricep extension with dumbbells

If you have a pair of weights (or even just one dumbbell), then the lying tricep extension is a great alternative to chair dips because it emphasizes the long head of the triceps, which is a commonly neglected triceps muscle.

While the lying tricep extension is often performed on a bench for maximum comfort and range of motion, you can also do the exercise on the floor if you don’t have a weight bench.

To really focus on the long head of your triceps, bring the weights behind your head so that you can really stretch your triceps under the tension of the weight. Then, flex your triceps forcefully to lift the dumbbells back up. Contrary to popular belief, you should lock your elbows out during tricep extensions because locking the elbows out is the main function of the triceps brachii.

To learn more about how tricep extensions compare with dips, see our head-to-head dips vs tricep extension comparison.

6. Dumbbell overhead extension

A man performing a standing dumbbell overhead tricep extension exercise

Overhead extensions are a good substitute for bench dips because all you need is one dumbbell. And really, a dumbbell is optional because you can do the exercise with bands or any decently heavy object (such as a big bottle of water or a milk jug) that you can comfortably lower behind your head.

Unlike tricep dips, overhead extensions emphasize the long head of the triceps, which is noteworthy because the long head contributes more mass to the triceps muscle than the lateral and medial heads combined.

So, in this sense, the overhead extension is arguably a better exercise than the upright tricep dip (it’s certainly better than the bench dip) because it trains the single biggest muscle in your upper arms.

7. Resistance band tricep pushdown

A man doing some band pushdowns

If you’re looking for a good alternative to bench dips that you can do at home, then the resistance band tricep pushdown is a great exercise. If you have a resistance band and a door anchor, then you can essentially create your very own band pulley system and do pushdowns like you would at the gym.

Unlike the cable version of the exercise, however, the band pushdown becomes harder as the exercise progresses since the band exerts more tension the more that you stretch it.

Therefore, band pushdowns create a really intense peak contraction in your triceps. Besides giving you a great muscle pump, this powerful contraction takes the pressure off your joints and puts it on your muscles, which is ideal if you’re looking for a safe alternative to tricep dips.

8. Tricep kickbacks

A man doing tricep kickbacks

Kickbacks are a good substitute for tricep dips because they train the long head of the triceps, which, as mentioned, is a crucial muscle for building big arms.

The key to getting the most from kickbacks is to bend over as far as you can so that you can generate the strongest possible triceps peak contraction. So when you bend over, make sure to move your shoulders back so that your upper arms are in line with your torso.

But before getting in position, make sure that you have a very light pair of dumbbells. It doesn’t take much weight to get a great workout from this bench dips replacement, so be sure to make good form your number one priority.

9. Floor press

A man doing a dumbbell floor press

The floor press is a versatile and underrated tricep dip alternative because you can do it with minimal equipment from the comforts of your own home.

And yet, you can also do the floor press at the gym with a barbell as a replacement for parallel bar tricep dips.

This version of the exercise really helps to boost your bench press because it’s a triceps-dominant press; instead of lowering the bar (or dumbbells) right to your chest, you lower it until the backs of your upper arms touch the floor. After that, you simply press the weight up until your elbows reach lockout.

Read More: Difference between dips and skull crushers

What is the best alternative to tricep dips overall?

A man demonstrating a good tricep dip alternative

So, all things considered, what is the single best alternative to tricep dips? If you’re looking for a like-for-like replacement that will really challenge your triceps, then I’d say that the bodyweight tricep extension is definitely the best tricep dip alternative because, like the tricep dip, it’s a bodyweight exercise that you can do anywhere.

It’s also an excellent mass-builder because you’re pushing your body weight off the floor purely with your triceps.

Another good tricep dip substitute for gaining size is the close grip bench press because you can load it with virtually endless amounts of weight, which means that you can keep gaining muscle and strength well into the future.

What is the best bench dip alternative?

A man demonstrating a good bench dip alternative

What is the best bench dip alternative for training the triceps? After evaluating and testing countless replacements, it’s clear that lying tricep extensions are the best bench dip alternative because they’re suited to high reps when you use dumbbells, and you can perform them virtually anywhere as long as you have a pair of weights.

Although not a bodyweight exercise like bench dips, lying tricep extensions are still an excellent bench dips alternative because they produce a really good muscle pump, which is another way of saying that they really make your triceps burn.

Unlike bench dips, lying extensions emphasize the long head of your triceps, which can help to make your arms bigger and/or more toned (depending on how heavy you’re lifting and what you’re eating to support your training).

Dumbbell extensions are also much more shoulder-friendly than bench dips, so you don’t have to worry about straining your rotator cuffs when you add this excellent bench dips substitute to your routine.

See Also: Chest dips vs tricep dipsTricep dip challenge

The verdict: How to select a good exercise to replace tricep dips

A man showing some alternatives to tricep dips

When you’re looking for a good alternative to tricep dips or bench dips, the first thing to consider is your equipment availability. If you don’t have any gym equipment, then diamond push-ups and bodyweight tricep extensions are the ideal tricep dip replacement because they require nothing other than your body weight.

Of course, these two bodyweight movements are much harder than bench dips and, therefore, might be too challenging for some people.

So, if you want a tricep dips alternative that you can do with weights, then I highly recommend either the close grip bench press (if you have access to a gym) or the overhead extension, which you can perform with just one dumbbell.

The close grip bench press is a great replacement for parallel bar tricep dips because it enables you to lift heavy and target the many fast-twitch muscle fibers in your triceps.

Similarly, the overhead extension trains the long head of the triceps, which is a critical muscle for many compound exercises and one which will dramatically improve the appearance of your upper arms when well developed.

References

  1. Ethier, J. (2022, February 27). The Best Tricep Workout Exercises for Long Heads. Built with Science. https://builtwithscience.com/best-tricep-exercises/
  2. Williams, B. (2019, October 23). How to Do Bench Dips Without Jacking Up Your Shoulders. Men’s Health. https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a29565944/bench-dip-workout/
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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