Top 16 Very Effective Alternatives to Dips for Bigger And Stronger Triceps

Dips are upper body pressing exercises that build your muscles for bigger and stronger triceps. We will, in this guide, look at a selection of some effective alternatives to dips that you can do to help you achieve similar goals.

woman exercising with dumbbells

My arms were sore, my body was under stress, and I wasn’t even doing it right. And that was my dilemma for many months until I discovered there were some very effective alternatives to dips exercises that could help me build my triceps

But if done right, dips are arguably some of the most dynamic exercises for strength training. They engage the triceps, anterior deltoids, chest, and back muscles.

What Are Dips Exercises?

dips exercise

The dips exercise is an exercise for developing upper body strength.

You can do the exercise in two ways: either with narrow dips or wide dips.

Narrow dips target the triceps with minimal emphasis on your chest and shoulders. On the other hand, wide dips work out the pectoral muscles to give you a leaner V-shaped upper body

Benefits of Dips Exercises:

  • Strengthens the upper body.
  • Adds muscle mass to the body.
  • Works opposing muscle groups simultaneously.

Equipment

  • Dip bar.
  • Weighted dip belt.
  • Weight plates.
  • Bench
  • Chair

Muscles Worked

  • Triceps.
  • Anterior deltoid.
  • Pectoral muscles.
  • Rhomboid muscles.

Limitations of Dips

  • Requires expensive equipment, though you could opt to use a chair or bench.
  • Challenging for beginners.

Top 16 Highly Effective Alternatives to Dips

If you’re anything like me and can’t, or don’t know how to do the dips, then read on. I have prepared a list of the 16 best alternatives to dips exercises.

These alternatives to tricep dips can engage the same muscle groups and keep your triceps toned. And you don’t need any equipment for some of them.

Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is one of the best alternatives to dips. It develops both the triceps muscles as well as your pressing strength.

Steps to Follow

  • Lay down flat on the bench, keeping your feet on the floor.
  • Keep your shoulders tucked.
  • Grab a bar and keep your palms shoulder-width apart.
  • Now, lower the bar down to your chest.
  • Then, push towards the ceiling so that your arms are fully extended upward.
  • Do not overextend the arms, or the shoulders may get damaged.

Diamond Push-Ups

diamond-push ups - alternatives to dips

Much like the close grip bench press, diamond pushups will also help increase your pressing power. And this exercise doesn’t even need a lot of equipment making it a good alternative to dips for budget-conscious fitness enthusiasts.

Steps to Follow

  • Start with your hands flat on the floor and your body straight.
  • Then, turn your palms inwards towards each other so that the index fingers and thumbs form a diamond.
  • Keep the hands beneath the upper abdomen in a comfortable position.
  • It’s better to start the exercise in the down position.
  • From here, push up from the ground until you fully extend your elbows. Do not overextend.

Cable Chest Flys

alternatives to dips - cable chest fly


If you want some good alternatives to dips targeting the pecs, there can be none better than cabled chest flys.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a cable machine and grab both handles.
  • Ensure your posture is upright. Keep your chest facing up and your shoulders facing down and leaning slightly back.
  • Perform a hugging motion with your hands, keeping the handles gripped tightly in your hands.
  • While doing this, keep your elbows slightly bent and not completely straight.
  • Once that’s down, go back to your original position, gently bringing back the handles. Bring them back till they appear to be parallel with your chest.

Iso-Lateral Chest Press

Like the close grip bench press, the iso-lateral chest press targets the same muscle groups as dips. Hence, it’s a viable alternative to triceps dips.

Steps to Follow

  • Find the right chest press machine in your gym.
  • Sit with your back and neck flat against the seat and your feet wide apart. Keep your feet planted on the floor.
  • Grab the two handles, ensuring that they stay at the chest level. If not, adjust the seat accordingly.
  • Now, press on the handles away from your body. Keep doing so until your elbows are completely extended. Again, do not overextend, or you could get injured.
  • Then, bring the weights gently back down and repeat.

Single-Arm Resistance Band Extensions

A good alternative to dips for people who have minimal equipment is the single-arm resistance band extension. But, it requires a resistance band that will specifically target the long-head triceps.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand upright, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. In this position, take a light step forward so that one foot leads the other ever so slightly.
  • Now, take your resistance band and slide it under the foot that’s not extended forward. Strongly step on the band so that it doesn’t snap back.
  • Where you place your foot on the band decides how much resistance there is in the band.
  • Then, extend your arm (the one holding the band) upward and keep extending until your elbows are straight.
  • Now, ensuring that your arm remains straight, lower the resistance band behind your head very slightly. Keep lowering it so that your elbows form a 90-degree angle.
  • Stay in this position for a few seconds, pause, and extend the arm again.

Dumbbell Triceps Kickbacks

The dumbbell triceps kickbacks are an alternative to tricep dips that give results. You’ll need an incline bench fixed at a 45-degree angle.

Steps to Follow

The triceps kickbacks with dumbbells are one of the alternatives to dips exercises that work your long-head triceps. It can help increase your range of motion.

  • Engage your core and keep your
  • Hinge forward at the waist, making sure your spine is straight. Make your torso as parallel to the floor as you can
  • Lift your elbow and bring it in line with your torso. You elbows should bend 90 degrees when you do so
  • Extend your arms fully while keeping your elbows in a fixed position. You will feel like the weight is touching your hips.
  • With your elbow still fixed and your arms parallel to the floor, bring the dumbbells back to your starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you can, while ensuring your shoulders are relaxed, and your spine stays long and strong

Dumbbell Hex Press

dumbbell hex press - alternatives to dips exercises

The dumbbell hex press is a highly versatile alternative to chest dips. This exercise not only targets the triceps but the deltoids (shoulders) and the pecs as well.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a flat bench and lie on it with your back against the bench.
  • Pick up two dumbbells of a suitable weight and hold them with an overhand grip.
  • Hold the dumbbells an inch or so above your chest and make them touch by bringing them close together.
  • Now, push the dumbbells together and squeeze as tight as you can. While doing this, extend your arms towards the ceiling until you can no longer move them. Make sure to press the dumbbells the whole way.
  • Now, bring the weights back down slowly, still ensuring that they’re touching each other. Do not bring them completely down but pause at the 1-inch mark above your chest.

Ring Or Straps Chest Press

straps chest press - alternative to triceps dips

The ring or straps chest press is another one of the effective alternatives to dips exercises. You can easily do this at home. You’ll need strap handles or rings.

Steps to Follow

  • Hold the rings with an overhand grip and keep them away from your body.
  • Lean your body forward into the straps, making sure that the arms and elbows remain straight.
  • Keep the wrists stacked, so they support the weight of your body.
  • Now, tuck your shoulder blades back and gently lower your body into the rings.
  • Keep lowering until you no longer can, which is usually when the chest comes down to ring-level.
  • Take a short pause, and then gently pull yourself back to where you started.

Overhead Triceps Extension

The overhead triceps extensions also make a great alternative to dips for your chest. They target the triceps and increase your range of motion.

You can do this exercise either sitting on a seat with your back flat or standing with your spine straight.

Steps to Follow

  • Grab a dumbbell of any suitable weight and hold it with both hands behind the head.
  • Make sure you bend your elbows, and the dumbbell is perpendicular to the ground behind your head.
  • Keeping your elbows in the same position, bring the dumbbell up over your head. Your elbows should be straight but can also be slightly bent.
  • Now, lower the dumbbell behind your head back to where it was in the starting position. Repeat for about 12-15 reps.

Incline Push Up

Incline pushups are like regular pushups with a few changes. They help engage the triceps and the shoulders and account for good full-body workouts. Aside from a bench, you don’t need any other equipment for the exercise. Thus you can regard it as a great alternative to dips at home bodyweight exercise.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a flat bench and lean on it with both your palms on the bench at shoulder-width. Keep your chest facing the bench and your feet on tip-toes. In this position, your body and spine should remain straight and inclined to the bench.
  • Now, bend the elbows outward and gently lower yourself into the bench, stopping just above the bench.
  • Bring yourself back up by lightly pushing the bench. It helps to place a heavy object at the feet of the bench to prevent it from sliding out. Or, use an exercise mat to prevent your feet from slipping.
  • Repeat for 12-15 reps.

Skull Crushers

skull crushers - alternatives to dips

This morbidly named exercise is one of the best alternatives to dips. It not only engages the triceps but adds little stress to your back.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a flat bench and lay down on it with your back to the bench.
  • Then, grab two dumbbells, one in each hand, and bring your arms straight up. The weights should be directly above your chest in this position, with the palms facing each other. Alternatively, you can use an EZ curl bar instead of dumbbells
  • Now, gently lower the weights down to your face via bending the elbows. Again, make sure to keep them at a safe distance from the face.
  • Extend your arms back up again and repeat for ten reps.

Pec Deck Machine

crossover alternative - pec deck resistance machine cable

The pec deck machine exercise requires a pec deck machine and is best for people who struggle with proper form.

Steps to Follow

  • Sit on the seat and adjust the height so that the handles are at level with your chest. Keep the spine and head pressed against the seat.
  • Adjust the weights.
  • Now, grab the handles and gently push them forward so that they extend out.
  • Then, gently lower the weights back down by pulling your hands in. Repeat as many times as needed.

Rope Kickbacks

Although looked down on by many trainers, this exercise is a great finisher for your triceps. Also, it keeps the triceps in a shortened position for quite some time.

Steps to Follow

  • Adjust the weight rack and bend over so that your back is almost parallel to the ground.
  • Grab a rope with one hand.
  • Keep your elbow in line with your body (parallel to the ground).
  • Now, pull the rope back so that the arm is fully extended behind you. Keep the elbow in the same position and only move the forearm.
  • Bring the rope back forward, keeping the elbow in the same position.
  • Repeat.

Triceps Cable Pushdown

triceps cable pushdown - alternatives to dips exercise

The triceps cable pushdown is a safe alternative to low-impact dips and builds the triceps medial and lateral heads.

Steps to Follow

  • Find an adjustable cable machine and get a V-bar or a rope.
  • Maintain a slight bend in the knees, bend slightly forward and grab the V-bar.
  • Keep the elbows slightly forward, in front of your hips. They should be straight and pointing downward.
  • Now, only moving your forearms, push the bar down until the arms are fully extended.
  • Then, let the rope go back up, keeping your elbow straight.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Burpees

To many, the burpee is a complete exercise as it targets almost every major muscle group. And as such, it’s also one of the effective alternatives to dips at home.

Steps to Follow

  • Stand up straight.
  • Now bend the knees and jump upward and land down.
  • As soon as you come down, go into a squat.
  • Keep the head aligned with the tailbone and bend your knees wide so that you’re squatting. Squat down till the thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • From here, lean downward, keeping your knees wider than your elbows. Place your hands flat on the ground.
  • Then, extend your legs behind you quickly, breaking the squat posture. Ensure you incline your body with the ground, and extend your feet behind you.
  • Go straight down, bending the elbows like you would in a pushup.
  • Come back up. Now jump your legs forward, so you’re back into a squatting position.
  • From here, jump back up into your starting position.

Tip: It’s important to perform the burpee quickly as even the slightest break can ruin the tempo.

Overhead Press

overhead press

Finally, we have the overhead press, a fantastic exercise, and one of the potent alternatives to dips. It works out the triceps, upper pecs, rear delts, and delts.

Steps to Follow

  • Find a barbell and fit it with the appropriate weights.
  • Stand up straight with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the barbell in line with your shoulders. Your hands should be slightly farther apart than shoulder-width.
  • Now, gently raise the barbell above your head. Bend your elbows at 90-degrees midway through the exercise.
  • Extend the arms up and then gently bring the barbell back down to the starting position.

FAQs

What Is the Best Alternative to Dips?

There is no best alternative, but the easiest that people find is a close grip bench press. It works out the same muscle groups as dips and enhances your range of motion.

Can You Do the Alternatives to Dips Without Equipment?

Yes, there are many dips alternatives without equipment. Some suitable substitutes include diamond pushups, incline pushups, and burpees.


Final Words from LiveLife

While dips work out several muscle groups at once, they’re still too hard to perform for many people. But don’t worry. Many good alternatives to dips work out the same muscle groups and provide the same benefits. And you can even do some at home without using any equipment.

  1. Ace Fitness, Follow-up Q and A: Dangerous Dips, (n.d.) https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/1657/follow-up-q-and-a-dangerous-dips/
  2. Lockie RG, Callaghan SJ, Moreno MR, et al. An Investigation of the Mechanics and Sticking Region of a One-Repetition Maximum Close-Grip Bench Press versus the Traditional Bench PressSports (Basel). 2017
  3. Matthews J. (2013). Bench press grips: Choosing your grip for success.
    acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/3670/bench-press-grips-choosing-your-grip-for-success
  4. Lockie RG, Callaghan SJ, Orjalo AJ, Moreno MR. Loading Range for the Development of Peak Power in the Close-Grip Bench Press versus the Traditional Bench PressSports (Basel). 2018
  5. Schanke W, et al. (2012). Top 3 most effective chest exercises.
    acewebcontent.azureedge.net/certifiednews/images/article/pdfs/ACE_BestChestExercises.pdf
  6. How to: Diamond push-up. (n.d.).
    vidinfo.org/video/13294177/how-to-diamond-push-up
  7. Chest press. (n.d.).
    acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/19/chest-press
  8. Scott Herman Fitness. (2012). How to: Diamond push-up.
    youtube.com/watch?v=J0DnG1_S92I
  9. Boehler B, Porcari JP, Kline D, Hendrix R, Foster C, Anders M. ACE-sponsored research: Best triceps exercises. American Council on Exercise. 2011.
  10. Ferreira D, Ferreira-Junior J, Soares S, et al. Chest press exercises with different stability requirements result in similar muscle damage recovery in resistance-trained menJ Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(1):71-9. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001453
  11. Seated chest press. (n.d.).
    acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/188/seated-chest-press
  12. Triceps kickback. (n.d.).
    acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/exercise-library/55/triceps-kickback

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