Pointless, useless, even potentially dangerous—when MH experts use these words to describe an exercise, you know it's not going to be a good use of your time. In this case, the bench dip is the overrated move in question. This ill-advised move is perhaps the worst exercise you can do for your triceps.
Don't confuse the proven benefits of the more standard dip, which you perform at a dip station or parallel bars, with this shoulder injury waiting to happen. According to Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., and MH Advisory Board member David Otey, C.S.C.S., there’s no logical reason to include bench dips in any triceps routine.
“The overall cost benefit is that over the long haul of your training just [the bench dip] isn't worth it,” Samuel says.
Why You Should Avoid Bench Dips
Some other reason to avoid the bench dip include:
Bench Dips Put Your Shoulders in a Bad Spot
According to Otey, the exercise immediately puts your shoulders in a terrible starting point, even with just your body weight. “The front part of your upper arm is literally jamming out of the socket,” he says. "So before you even get started your shoulders already in a very, very vulnerable position.”
Bench Dips Don't Allow You to Adjust Your Position
In other words, once you’re in that bad position, you’re in it for the long haul. Unlike when you perform traditional dips, during which you can shift and readjust your torso to rebalance, the bench dip's orientation prevents you from moving away from the awkward positioning, therefore putting unneeded stress on your shoulders.
Bench Dips Put Your Wrists in a Bad Spot
There’s no other way to put it: Your wrists will take a beating by the way they’re forced to hold your weight on the bench, as your arms are fully extended and your bodyweight is set in a forward position. And because you can’t adjust the load or maintain any proper range of motion, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
Bench Dip Alternatives
Instead, there are plenty of safer and just plain better triceps exercises you could be doing instead of the bench dip.
3 sets of max reps
According to Otey, the wrist, elbow, and upper-arm positioning of this move allows you to target the triceps as well as any bodyweight exercises. Plus the close-grip keeps your shoulders in a safe and solid position throughout the movement. If your strength isn’t up to snuff just yet, you can adjust by performing these by putting your hands on an elevated surface.
3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Granted, the pressdown and the bench dip aren’t exactly similar, however, a key responsibility of our triceps is to drive the arm straight, which is what makes the pressdown such a viable alternative. Here, we’re focusing on driving the arms straight and squeezing the triceps, building a solid mind-muscle connection. .
3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
The traditional dip is sort of like the squat for the upper body, says Otey. Again, if the move is too challenging at first, you can always add resistance bands or use a weighted resistance dip machine to build strength.
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