By: Jimmy Peña, MS, CSCS; Photography by: Alex Ardenti; Model: Brandon Williams
Most machine dips are equipped with seat belts, because the movement means one wild ride for the back of your arms. However, the machine dip is an almost-forgotten gem among bodybuilding exercises. One of the many advantages of the dip machine is the fact that you don’t need to worry about balance. You can simply blast away at the target muscle. The upright bench ensures you have perfect form throughout the set, while the handles rotate inward and outward ensuring you’re targeting the triceps correctly according to your body size. Your main concern is simply making sure you’ve set the apparatus to fit your height, as most seats adjust up and down. You don’t want the weight plates to touch between reps, so make sure the seat is high enough. This adjustment might take a few practice reps.
A classic triceps exercise, the bench dip is an excellent way to flush the muscle at the end of a grueling day of skullcrushers, overhead extensions and pressdowns. It can often prove tough on trainers with pre-existing shoulder problems, but even if their shoulders are healthy, many guys go so deep that they actually lose tension in the target triceps and injure their rotators. You want to lower your glutes until your arms form 90-degree angles before pressing yourself up to full arm extension. Also, you must take each set to failure, seeing as you’re using just your bodyweight. For increased intensity, and if you have a partner, you can add weight to your lap to help overload the triceps. At the end of a weighted set your partner can remove the weight, allowing you to bust out a few more reps after the initial point of failure.
Advantage: Machine Dip
As we said, because machines don’t require much attention to balance, they allow you to simply overload the target muscle with as much weight as possible. The machine dip lets you destroy the triceps with a lot of weight (it’s a multijoint exercise) and you can do it safely with or without a partner. Since the machine is pin-loaded, you can very easily apply intensity techniques like drop sets and rest-pause, whereas the bench dip uses only your bodyweight. Even compared to the weighted version of the bench dip, the machine dip has advantages like being able to lean forward as you begin to fatigue, allowing the chest and delts to help the triceps squeeze out a few more reps. So for triceps mass, even when compared to the weighted version of the bench dip, the machine dip wins by a nose.