Big arms are not only about bulging biceps. In fact, the guys you see with straining sleeves spend a lot of time to train their triceps, too. Located at the back of your upper arms, the tricep muscle is also larger than the biceps. Together, they constitute the thickness of your arms. One of the best exercises for targeting the triceps is the assisted dip – a compound move that also works your shoulders and chest.
The Assisted Dip Machine
The assisted dip machine has an adjustable counterweight that provides upward pressure while you perform the exercise. “This makes it easier if you’re not yet strong enough to hold your body weight unsupported while doing the dip,” says Lee Kong Ee, personal trainer at Pure Fitness. “To build strength and size, select a weight that will enable you to do 8 to 12 repetitions. And aim to do 3 sets as part of your workout.”
How To Do It
Select the appropriate weight. Ensure that the handles are adjusted close to your body. Stand on the bottom step and grab the handles using an overhand grip (fingers pointing inwards). While holding on to the handles, place both knees on the kneepad one at the time. As you inhale, allow your body to be lowered, keeping your elbows close to your sides and your shoulders back until you feel a slight stretch in them.
Begin to exhale slowly and, using your arms and contracting your core muscles, push your body up until your arms are almost straight, without locking your elbows. Ensure that you do not hunch your shoulders by keeping them down. Pause briefly. As you inhale, slowly return to the starting position. You’ve completed 1 rep. Repeat the movement – lowering your body as you exhale and pushing up as you inhale – until you complete your set.
A. Wide Grip Dip
Adjusting the handles so they are further away from the body engages the chest or pectoral muscles more.
B. Leaning Forward
If the dip machine handles cannot be adjusted, you can also lean slightly forward as you perform the dip to work out your chest.
Avoid These Rookie Mistakes
Three ways newbies can avoid getting it wrong and sabotaging their gains.
1. Leaning Too Far
Apart from taking the focus away from your triceps, leaning too far forward causes your shoulders to curl forward or hunch, says Lee. “This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise on the targeted muscles – mainly the triceps.”
2. Dipping Too Low
Shoulder flexibility varies in different men, Lee says. “However, lowering your body too low until it hurts your shoulders can lead to injury.”
3. Going Too Fast
When you push through a dip quickly instead of going at it in a controlled movement, you’re using momentum, says Lee. “It can make it easier, but comes at the expense of recruiting your muscle fibres fully, and causes tension in your elbows when you jerk.”