Weight Loss Made Practical » Exercise

10 Of The Top Alternatives To Dips Exercises

The dip exercise can offer many benefits but you may want other options. What are some dip alternatives for growing your chest and triceps?

To do a regular dip you start with your hands at more or less at shoulder-width apart on a surface, usually dip bars, with stretched arms. You then bend your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle. Lastly, you raise yourself back to starting position.

By doing the dip exercise you mainly work your triceps and lower pectoralis (aka lower pecs, aka lower chest muscles). To what extent each muscle depends on your posture during the exercise.

Whether you don’t enjoy the regular dip exercise, you are not yet able to do one, or you want an alternative for any other reason, these dip alternatives can help you work out these muscles anyway.

1. Types of pushups

Pushups are a very convenient alternative to dips since you do not necessarily any equipment for them. That being said if you are more experienced with resistance training you likely need to do weighted pushups with external weights like a weighted vest to keep building extra muscle mass.

To do a pushup take the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor with your hand palms on the ground about shoulder-width apart and pointing forward. Your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line.
  3. Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the ground. Your arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
  4. Stretch your arms again until you are back in a straight arm plank position.

The way you do pushups influences what muscles you focus.

If you want to focus more on your tricep muscles you can do narrow-handed pushups. These are pushups where you place your hands closer together instead of at shoulder-width.

On the other hand, if you want to focus more on your lower chest muscles you can do incline pushups. An incline pushup is very similar to a regular pushup but your hands lean on an elevated surface.

2. Cable machine tricep pushdown

The cable machine is a piece of fitness equipment where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.

One example of a cable machine exercise that can serve as alternative for exercise dips is the tricep pushdown.

To do a cable machine tricep pushdown take the following steps:

  1. Adjust the bar or rope of the cable machine so that it is at about chest height. Step into starting position in front of the cable machine.
  2. Grab the bar overhanded or in case of a rope grip, place your hands at about shoulder-width.
  3. Push the weight down by moving your lower arms. Your elbows should stay close to your body and your upper arms should stay more or less static. Make sure you don’t bend your back too much.
  4. Once your arms are extended but not locked yet you can hold for a second or less.
  5. Let the bar or rope go back up in a slow and controlled manner.

Finding the ideal weight for your current skill level may initially be some trial and error.

If you don’t like going to the gym and don’t have a cable machine at home you can consider trying out this exercise with resistance bands.

3. Close grip bench press

The bench press is one of the most popular weight lifting exercises. This exercise is similar to the pushup but instead of pushing your own bodyweight up from the ground, you push up weight while your back is on a bench.

Similar to the pushup you can do the bench press in a different way so that it becomes closer to an alternative for exercise dips. By doing the bench press with a close grip you focus more on your tricep muscles. You can do this exercise with both a barbell or dumbbells.

To do a close grip bench press with a barbell take the following steps:

  1. Lie with your back on a weight bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  2. Place your hands slightly closer to the middle than shoulder-width. Your arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides.
  3. Unrack the barbell and slowly lower it to your chest.
  4. Push the barbell back up again.
  5. Place the barbell in the rack again if you are done or repeat from step 3 for more repetitions.

If you do the bench press with a barbell you likely want a spotter or safety bar in case the weight becomes too much.

Keep in mind that doing a close grip bench is generally more difficult than a regular grip bench press with the same weight. Adjust how much weight you use accordingly.

4. One arm resistance band extension

Resistance bands are a relatively inexpensive piece of fitness equipment that allows you to make certain resistance training exercises more challenging, or do new resistance training exercises.

One of these exercise is the tricep extension which allows you to work out your tricep muscles.

To do a one arm resistance band extension take the following steps:

  1. Either attach the resistance band you will use somewhere low or simply stand on it. In the first case stand over the anchor point with the leg on the side of the arm you want to train.
  2. Grab the resistance band with the arm you want to train and pull the resistance band all the way up until your arm is extended but not locked.
  3. Slowly fold your lower arm towards your back until it makes a 90-degree angle with the rest of your body. Your upper arm should stay in one line with the rest of your body.
  4. Raise your lower arm again until it is extended but not locked.

5. Pec deck fly

The peck deck fly, also known as the machine fly, is a gym machine that allows you to work out your pectoral muscles. This machine is a beginner-friendly alternative to dip exercises.

To use the peck deck fly take the following steps:

  1. Adjust the machine so that the handles are at chest height and at the right distance from your body and your feet stand comfortably on the floor.
  2. Place your arms against the pads and/or grab the handles.
  3. Press your arms together in a controlled motion while keeping your posture straight.
  4. Once your arms are fully pressed together you can hold for a second or less.
  5. Slowly move your arms back to starting position.

6. Dumbbell tricep kickback

This next dip exercise alternative can be done in a few different variations but all of them are focused on engaging your tricep muscles.

To do a standing dumbbell tricep kickback take the following steps:

  1. Grab 2 dumbbells of the same weight. Place your feet at about shoulder-width.
  2. Slightly bend your legs and bend your upper body forward at about a 45-degree angle with a vertical line. Make sure your back stays straight throughout the exercise.
  3. Bring your upper arms in line with your upper body. Keep them close to your body. During your repetitions, your upper arms should stay more or less in the same position.
  4. Raise your lower arms in a controlled motion until they are extended.
  5. Slowly let gravity do its work on your lower arms until they are back into starting position.

Instead of standing up, you can also do the dumbbell tricep kickback on an incline weight bench. You can also do this exercise with one arm while being supported by a horizontal weight bench. Lastly, you can also do this exercise with resistance bands.

7. Chair or bench dips

One reason you may avoid regular dips is that they are hard, especially if you are relatively new to resistance training. Luckily you can also do chair or bench dips which are an easier alternative since you do not have to pushup up your full body weight.

To do a chair dip take the following steps:

  1. Find 2 stable chairs. A stable bench or another elevated platform can also do the job.
  2. Place your hands at more or less shoulder-width apart on the surface with stretched arms. Your feet should rest stably on the ground.
  3. Bend your arms at your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle. The rest of your body should barely not touch the surface. Try to put as much weight on your arms as possible, your legs should be used as balance, not to move you.
  4. Raise yourself back up into starting position.

8. Decline bench press

This next version of the bench press is the decline bench press. This means your knees will be higher than your face. By doing the bench press this way you target your lower chest muscles which makes it a great alternative to dips.

To do a decline bench press with a barbell take the following steps:

  1. Lie with your back on a decline weight bench.
  2. Place your hands on the barbell at about shoulder-width. Your arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides.
  3. Unrack the barbell and slowly lower it to your chest.
  4. Push the barbell back up again.
  5. Place the barbell in the rack again if you are done or repeat from step 3 for more repetitions.

You can also do this exercise with dumbbells.

9. Dumbbell pullover

The dumbbell pullover is an exercise that will mainly work your chest muscles. To do a dumbbell pullover take the following steps:

  1. Lie with your back on a decline weight bench. Your feet should be flat on the floor for stability. Hold a dumbbell on one end above your chest with 2 hands. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
  2. Slowly move your arms backward so that the weight comes lower to the ground.
  3. Reach back as far as you are comfortable.
  4. At that point start raising the dumbbell again into starting position.

Keep in mind that the dumbbell pullover is an exercise to engage your chest muscles. If you do not feel any strain on these your technique is likely off.

10. Cable crossover

For the cable crossover exercise, you will need to attach single-grip handles to each side of the machine at shoulder level. After that to do a cable crossover take the following steps:

  1. Grab 1 handle, walk towards the other handle and grab it with the other hand. Stand in the middle between the two cables.
  2. Put one foot a small distance backward and the other foot forward for balance. Slightly tilt your upper body forward while keeping your back straight. Keep your arms slightly less than extended throughout the exercise.
  3. Slowly bring your hands to the center, instead of stopping when right before they touch each other you let one arm go above the other to go a little further.
  4. Slowly go back to starting position.
  5. When doing multiple repetitions switch between which arm goes above.

The cable crossover is a great exercise to train your chest muscles.