You can make seated dips extremely intense; don’t just settle for high volume “baby” reps on a bench as you become stronger.
1. The first obvious way to add intensity to the seated dip is to put weights on your lap. This is a no-brainer. If one 45 pound plate isn’t challenging enough, then put two on, or even three.
2. The next way to make seated dips more intense is to hold the down position for longer before straightening back up. I never see anybody doing this.
Seated dips can really build the triceps and make them quite strong; don’t think of this compound exercise as just another light, high volume move. Hold the down position for two or three seconds each time you go down.
3. Another way to make seated dips more intense is to do a slow negative; that is, lower slowly; take five or more seconds to lower into the down position.
4. Add intensity to seated dips by placing hands as close together as possible. This will further isolate the triceps and minimize help coming from other muscles.
5. Add intensity to seated dips by propping the feet up high, way higher than your hand placement, and keep the legs straight (but don’t lock out the knees).
In fact, combine this strategy with the one of placing the hands as close together as possible. If that isn’t challenging, then hold the down position while you’re at it.
6. Do “plyo-dips.” Talk about intensity, this will do it. As you proceed to straighten out, add a “jump” with your arms and release your hands from the bench for a split second.
Work up to this move first by pushing back up explosively. When that feels very doable, then do the jump with your arms.
7. Add intensity to seated dips by doing them immediately after parallel bars, or immediately after bench presses or chest dumbbell presses.
8. There is yet another way to make seated dips more intense: Take only 30-45 seconds in between sets, and make sure that the sets are designed for muscle failure within 8-12 repetitions. Your triceps will burn like mad with this kind of protocol.
9. Finally, instead of placing hands on a bench, place them on a stability ball.
To prevent the ball from rolling, either have a partner hold it, or wedge the ball into some gym equipment.
For some reason, when hands are placed on the ball rather than a bench, this adds intensity to seated dips; they are more difficult and your triceps will really burn. Make sure your feet are propped up rather than on the floor.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.