Bench Dips – Triceps Builder Or Shoulder Destroyer?

Bench dips are quite often seen in home workout DVDs such as P90X. However, it’s a dangerous exercise to do because of the extreme shoulder stretch. You are risking an injury to the rotator cuff as well as shoulder impingement.

Without a doubt bench dips work your triceps muscles really hard and you are going to get a great arm workout but at what cost?

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Believe it or not regular parallel bar dips place less stress on the shoulder joint compared to the bench version.


Of course, parallel bar dips require more strength to do initially and that’s the reason many people, especially women, are performing bench dips instead in order to ‘tone’ the back of the arm.

This is wrong and it’s better to do push-ups which will actually help you get stronger for dips much faster and safely.

I don’t experience shoulder pain during bench dips. Should I stop doing them anyway?

In general there’s not much value in doing bench dips, especially if you are strong enough to do the classic parallel bar version. The triceps stimulation during regular dips is even higher.

I like doing bench dips as a triceps finisher. I don’t use added weight. Is that ok?

Close grip push-ups on handles are a better triceps finisher. Additionally, bench dips should never be done at the end of a workout when the shoulder joint and muscles have been fatigued from the previous work. This is when wrecks happen.

Does this mean that Tony Horton has been doing it wrong?

Many of the exercises presented in P90X are poorly engineered as far as joint safety is concerned. The program is based on the so-called muscle confusion principles and targets the uneducated population.

That’s why it’s full of many different exercises because in the in the mind of the ignorant variety equals progress. This is not the case.

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