The dip, or triceps dip as some call them, is a confusing exercise. Why? Because it actually doesn’t work the triceps nearly as much as one would think and certainly not enough for it to get the tricep dip name! In this video, I break out the physics and science behind the strength to show you exactly why the dip exercise does not really work your triceps. More importantly, I show you how to make it better so you can start building bigger arms with this exercise.
When you consider the effectiveness of any exercise you have to consider whether or not the lever that the muscle in question is moving…ever crosses the line of resistance. In the case of bodyweight dips, your forearm is the lever and gravity is the line of resistance (acting straight down). In order for this exercise to maximally hit the triceps muscle your forearm would have to be perpendicular to gravity at some point. Not only does it not happen, but it actually stays parallel throughout the entire exercise! This isn’t good if you are trying to build big triceps.
In order to turn the dip into more of a triceps exercise, you have to keep your torso much more upright. I show you the upright bodyweight dip variation in this video and how it tweaks the angle to be a bit more in favor of triceps. Try it and feel the difference for yourself.
The science doesn’t end there however. You can basically take any upper body exercise and apply the same test to it, to see how good the exercise is for targeting the muscle you are trying to target. In the shoulder side lateral raise, the upper arm gets to the perpendicular point at the end of the lift. Altering the body position to one where you are lying down keeps the resistance on the delts but changes where in the range of motion it occurs.
You can see that understanding the physics behind the exercises, like the dips, allow you to tweak every exercise in your workouts to get better results faster.