Great triceps are built from a combination of compound exercises and shaping exercises. You need to have a few core exercises in your routine that works all three muscle heads with a high level of resistance to make them grow. The shaping exercises then help round out the edges and flush that great horseshoe shape we all love to see.
So what is the best compound exercise you always need to include in your program? It has to be bar dips, hands down.
The Greatness of Bar Dips
While some might argue that close-grip bench presses are a superior mass exercise for triceps, I will always stand behind bar dips. With the proper type of bar you can assume two wrist positions which allow you to hit more of the triceps. Additionally you get a much better stretch on the muscle from the dipping bar.
As we all know the muscle needs to be worked through a full range of motion which includes a maximum stretch, the middle, and then peak contraction. Also bar dips are great for peak contractions in the lock-out phase.
From a perspective to the rest of your body, dips really stress the lower chest, front deltoids, and side deltoids. For people who combine chest, shoulders, and triceps in a single workout this exercise is a great tie-in when switching body parts because it finishes off everything involved.
You can use two distinct body positions when doing dips on parallel bars. One version stresses the triceps much more severely and the other allows more use of the chest and shoulders. A great way to do bar dips for maximum triceps development is to start in the upright position and focus solely on the triceps until exhausted and then shift the position to allow more chest and shoulder assistance.
Why Don’t More People Do Them?
The simple answer that people don’t do dips is because they are hard. Your body weighs a lot and doing dips is like doing chin-ups, you need to be strong. People prefer to use the dip machines. But, while the machines are a decent substitute, they just don’t hit your triceps in the same way. The freedom you have in motion along with range and stretch makes bar dips a far superior exercise to their machine counterpart.
Also hardly any gyms stock a good set of parallel bars anymore for doing dips. Most gyms still carry a multi-purpose chin-up, leg raise, and dip station but not the classic bars that go from wide to narrow to allow people to easily fit to their size.
Incorporating Bar Dips
If you want great triceps then do bar dips and do them often. This is an exercise you should focus on at the beginning of your routine. If you can’t use bodyweight yet then work hard until you can. As soon as you can handle your bodyweight for 12 repetitions start to add weight in the form of a dumbbell between your ankles or a weight belt for holding plates.
This is one of those exercises that you can’t really cheat at (like chin-ups) and can quickly make you bigger and stronger.