Alternatives to Parallel Bar Triceps Dips

Parallel bar dips are effective in working your triceps and are often a primary exercise in many bodybuilding and strength routines. However, if you train at home, or your gym doesn't have parallel bars, you need to find dip exercise alternatives that replicate parallel bar dips.

Close push ups are a great alternative to parallel bar triceps dips. (Image: Daniel Besic/iStock/GettyImages)

Having a few substitutes for dips is also helpful when you're traveling, notes the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Your best bet is to try a variety of exercises and find the ones that work best for you, whether you're at home or on the road.

Dips Without Parallel Bars

If you have to do dips without parallel bars, chair dips are a potential replacement for their parallel bar counterparts. To perform this dip exercise alternative, sit on a chair and place your hands on the front edge of the seat. Walk your feet forward until your buttocks are off the chair, your legs are out in front and your hands are behind you.

Bend your elbows and dip down as low as you can, then push back up again. Chair dips are slightly easier than bar dips, but they still hit all three heads of your triceps muscle, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

You can also perform these dips without parallel bars using a set of stairs. You can even do them sitting on the floor — just bend your knees, lift your buttocks off the ground and then bend your elbows as you would for a chair dip.

Close-Grip Exercises

The close-grip push-up is another substitute for dips that replicates the movements of a parallel bar dip. Set up as you would for a normal push-up, only with your hands slightly closer together on the floor — your thumbs should nearly be touching. Perform a push-up movement, making sure your elbows go back, rather than out to the sides as you descend.

Close-grip push-ups have the added advantage of being a compound movement, meaning they work more than one muscle group and also hit your chest and shoulders. Compound movements also burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and elevate the heart rate, says ACE. For an extra challenge, do the exercise with your feet on a stability ball.

If you have access to a gym, close-grip bench presses are one of your best triceps-building options. The technique is exactly the same as it is with a normal bench press, but with a closer grip. For this dip exercise alternative, create about a 14-inch gap between your hands. Don't lift the bar to a full lockout when you press, as this takes some of the stress off the triceps. Lifting the bar 95 percent of the way will suffice.

Try a Floor Press

The floor press is a popular substitute for dips in athletic and powerlifting training programs, perhaps more so than in commercial gyms. Like parallel bar dips, the floor press packs mass on your triceps and helps increase their strength.

The floor press is similar to a bench press, but you perform it lying with your back on the floor. Both the floor press and the bench press recruit the triceps muscles, but more so with the floor press. In this dip exercise alternative, you position your hands shoulder-width apart, activating the triceps more than you would with a wide grip.

Start with your elbows straight, then bend your elbows to lower the bar until your triceps touch the floor. Push the bar away from you quickly while maintaining contact with the bar. Use a spotter if you're concerned about failing a rep.

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