How to Do a Bench Dip

Three Parts:Getting in the Starting PositionPerforming the ExerciseSeeing Results

A bench dip is a medium-intensity exercise that uses your own body weight to strengthen your triceps. Bench dips are fairly simple to learn and can be done almost anywhere, making them a great exercise for home-workout aficionados. Be aware that bench dips or any tricep dips can be extremely hard on the shoulders, so talk to your doctor before attempting bench dips, especially if you have previously injured your shoulders. Add bench dips to your workouts if you're looking for new ways to strengthen and tone your arms.

Part 1
Getting in the Starting Position

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    Find a bench to use for your bench dips. A regular exercise bench is preferred, but you can also use a wide chair or your couch if you don't have access to an exercise bench. Whatever item you're using for your bench dips, it should be two to three feet off of the ground. Make sure that whatever you're using for a bench is at least as wide is your shoulders and is absolutely stable.[1]
    • All gyms have exercise benches, and they can also be purchased online or at most fitness stores or big box stores.
    • You will be placing all your weight on one side of the bench, so make sure that whatever you use, it will not tip over.
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    Grip the edge of your bench with your hands. Place your hands onto the edge of your bench, one hand on each side of your hips. Your palms should be down, fingertips pointing forward and towards the floor, and thumbs next to your hips.[2]
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    Lift your butt off of the bench. Use your arms to push your butt up and off the bench. Firmly grip the edge of the bench as you straighten your arms and extend your legs forward so that your knees are no longer bent. Walk your feet out slightly so that your butt is in front of the bench. This will be your starting position.[3]
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    Try a more difficult version of a bench dip. To increase difficulty, do this exercise with your feet propped up on another exercise bench or chair instead of the floor. This will add more weight for your triceps to lift, resulting in a more intense workout. Make sure that the other bench or chair that you prop your feet on is sturdy, otherwise it could flip over.

Part 2
Performing the Exercise

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    Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows. Inhale as you lower your body towards the floor, and stop once your upper arms are parallel to the floor. You should have a right angle between your upper arms and the forearms, and your butt should be a few inches off the ground.
    • Keep the elbows pointing backwards, instead of out to the side, throughout the movement. Your forearms should always be perpendicular to the floor.[4]
    • If you are a beginner, start by reducing how far you lower yourself. This will allow your shoulders' connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) to build up strength as well, so they can, in time and with practice, eventually support the full range of motion down to a 90 degree bend.
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    Push yourself back up to starting position. Straighten your arms to slowly lift your torso back up and into starting position. Your legs should remain still. Once you've reached starting position, you will have completed one repetition of a bench dip.[5]
    • Make sure you keep your shoulders back and squared. The shoulders will want to roll forward, but this puts them at risk for injury. Engage the rhomboids before you start by pulling your shoulder blades together in the back. This will help keep the shoulder in a safe position.
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    Repeat the exercise. You should try to do 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise per set. Start off by doing two sets of bench dips in each of your workouts. Once you feel you can complete that with ease, move on to three sets of 10 to 15 reps, and then on to four sets.
    • This should be challenging, but not impossible. If it is too easy, then you should increase your number of repetitions or sets.[6]

Part 3
Seeing Results

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    Do bench dips two to three days per week. In order to start seeing results in your triceps, aim to add bench dips to your workouts two to three days per week. Stick with this workout regimen for a minimum of six to eight weeks.
    • For faster results, increase the number of sets and/or times per week you do this exercise.
    • Bench dips are a great addition to any workout, so don't stop doing them after six to eight weeks. If you don't want your triceps to bulk up, start doing your bench dips less often after the six to eight week period.[7]
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    Give yourself a break. Weight lifting actually damages your muscles' fibers, which is what creates that sore feeling after workouts. This is why it's important for you to rest your muscles for 48 hours before returning to them. Those rest days are when your muscles rebuild — and when they get stronger.
    • To do this, rotate your workouts. For example, do arm and chest exercises on Monday, leg and glute exercises on Tuesday, core and back exercises on Wednesday, back to arms and chest on Thursday, and back to legs and glutes on Friday.[8]
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    Track your progress. Sometimes working out can be discouraging if you feel like you're not seeing results. Since you look in the mirror every day, you won't see your progress like other people will. Consider documenting your progress with photos.
    • Take a "before" photo at the beginning of your bench dip journey. Make sure the photo is taken from an angle that shows the body part (in this case, the back of your arms) that you're working on.
    • Take photos every week from the same angle.
    • Look through your collection of photos when you are feeling discouraged, and you'll be able to see the progress that you're making.[9]


  • The benefits of these exercises are increased strength and flexibility in your triceps.
  • As bench dips require a lot of energy, it's best if you do it towards the beginning of your workout. This will allow you to get the most out of your workout without over-exhausting yourself.
  • To make this exercise less challenging, don't lower yourself to the full 90˚. Instead, stop about halfway down.
  • Again, keep your shoulders square during the whole exercise. Many people tend to let their shoulders cave forward during dips. Remind yourself to keep the shoulder blades pulled back a bit, engaging your rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades.
  • If you exercise at home, the dip works really well with the hands placed on the side of a bathtub!


  • Remember to check with your doctor if you have previously injured your shoulders, as bench dips (or any tricep dip) may not be appropriate for you. Start cautiously, reducing the range of motion. Slowly over weeks, gradually increase the range of motion to work up to 90 degree bend at elbow. It's OK if you never reach 90 degrees.

Things You Need

  • Exercise bench (or two if you wish to make the exercise more challenging)
  • Towel (optional)
  • Water

Article Info

Categories: Upper Body Strengthening and Toning