Tricep dips are one of the best ways to tone and tighten the back of the upper arms, while indirectly working stabilizing muscles including the shoulders, back and chest.

Starting position: Seated on a stable elevated surface such as a bench or chair, place hands shoulder width apart and keep the arms straight. Carefully bring the rear end off the edge, heels resting on the floor and legs straight.

Lowering Phase: Bend the elbows and slowly begin to lower the body toward the floor until a gentle chest stretch is felt, as shown in the photo. Depending on flexibility and surface height, the rear end may or may not touch the floor. Without resting, slowly straighten the arms until you are back to starting position.

Beginners should start with one to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions, or simply complete as many repetitions as you are able to with current strength. As the muscles become stronger, add sets or reps.


Ideally, the height of the surface you are pushing against should allow for complete range of motion, without overstretching.

Tricep dips can be performed by bending the knees instead of keeping legs straight. Doing so brings the feet closer to your body, making the exercise easier to do. If bending the knees, try not to use the leg muscles to push yourself back up.

To make the exercise more challenging, elevate the feet using another chair or bench. Doing so will increase resistance significantly.

Not all exercises are right for everyone. Those with rotator cuff, elbow, wrist or shoulder problems should check with their doctor before attempting this exercise.

Keep shoulders down, and do not bend the elbows lower than 90 degrees.

Avoid fully locking out the elbows.

— Marjie Gilliam, Cox Newspapers