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 other exercises that replicate parallel bar dips. Your best option is to try a variety of exercises and find the ones that work best for you.

A woman performing close-grip push ups. (Image: Phil Date/iStock/Getty Images)

Chair Dips

If you train at home, chair dips are a potential replacement for their parallel bar counterparts. Sit on a chair, place your hands on the front edge of the seat and walk your feet forward until your butt is 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 according to corrective exercise specialist Mike Robertson, they still hit all three heads of your triceps muscle.

Close-Grip Pushup

The close-grip pushup also replicates the movements of a parallel bar dip. Set up as you would for a normal pushup, only with your hands slightly closer together on the floor -- your thumbs should nearly be touching. Perform a pushup movement, making sure your elbows go back, rather than out to the sides as you descend. Close-grip pushups have the added advantage of being a compound movement, which means they work more than one muscle group and also hit your chest and shoulder. For an extra challenge, strength coach Chad Waterbury recommends doing the exercise with your feet on a stability ball.

Close-Grip Bench Press

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. Charles Poliquin, owner of the Poliquin Performance Center, recommends about a 14-inch gap between your hands, and not quite lifting 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.

Floor Press

The floor press is rarely seen in commercial gyms, but is extremely popular in athletic and powerlifting training programs. Like parallel bar dips, it 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. Start with your elbows straight and hands shoulder-width apart. 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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