Skip to content

Tips of the week Trying dips on bands for chest and triceps

Tipps der Woche Versuche Dips an Bändern für Brust und Trizeps

Perform dips on bands if regular dips don't feel right. Dips are a basic exercise for most people, but they can overload the shoulders of those with long training experience. And for some people, dips just never feel right.

However, there is a viable compromise - dips on bands. Sure, this exercise should probably be called "presses on bands" since you're pushing the load away from your body instead of pushing your body away from a solid surface, but this exercise still feels a lot like dips.

The main difference with dips with bands is that the tension is significantly reduced at the highest point of the movement, which is easier on the shoulder joints. At the lowest point of the movement there is still a lot of chest and tricep activation, making this exercise a benefit for those who cannot perform dips safely and pain-free.

Tip: Test your REAL upper body strength

Two exercises are all you need to test your upper body strength.

By Jim Wendler


Here are a press exercise and a pull exercise to test your upper body strength. I didn't opt for bench presses, however, but use strict overhead standing presses with a barbell.

While I don't necessarily think one exercise or movement is more "athletic" than another, I find it hard to justify a test where you're lying on a padded surface.

The press

You can use your 1 RM or your max weight for a certain number of reps. To convert your maximum weight for a given number of repetitions into an estimated 1RM weight, you can use the following formula:

Moved Weight x Repetitions x .0333 + Moved Weight = Estimated 1RM Weight Remember, an athlete using these exercises as a means to improve performance in their sport does not need to perform maximum single repetitions. The key to this test is not to take any momentum with the legs during this exercise. Perform the exercise as strictly as possible.

  • 100% of body weight: excellent
  • 90% of body weight: good
  • Less than 90% of body weight: you still have work to do

The pull-up test

The second test consists of pull-ups. Use the grip that you find most comfortable, which includes a neutral grip. (I'm a big fan of a wide range of grip variations, which includes the use of ropes and towels).

There are two tests you can try. Use the one you're good at. The first test is a simple set with your own body weight until muscle failure. The second is a pull-up test with 10% of your body weight as additional weight. You can use a dip belt or a weight vest. Do as many repetitions as you can manage in 10 minutes. Do I need to mention that this test should be performed with strict form?

  • 20 repetitions with your own body weight/40 total repetitions with 10% additional weight: excellent
  • 15/30: Not bad
  • 10/20: Work on it

Tip: Use box jumps in the right way

This means not using them as a conditioning or cardio workout

By Eric Bach


The absence of speed and speed-strength training in your program will likely limit the amount of weight you can use in other exercises. No, you won't build muscle with high-volume box jumps, but you will potentiate your nervous system to fire more efficiently at a higher rate. By improving the efficiency of your nervous system, you will improve your strength, which will improve your work capacity with submaximal weights for the purpose of building muscle.

But don't use box jumps as a conditioning workout!

Every exercise requires a risk-benefit analysis and box jumps perform miserably in this regard when used as conditioning training.

Jumps with a high number of repetitions and a high tempo minimize hip extension. Full hip extension is the primary driving force in a solid vertical jump, which carries over to activities like sprinting, the deadlift lockout or the end of a squat.

If you are using faulty mechanics in your training, it will show when it matters most. Leave box jumps where they belong - at the beginning of your training session as a power exercise.

Do you want to improve your fitness? Then use jumps with a lower load such as jumping rope.

Tip: Perform these dumbbell complexes

Two quick workouts to burn body fat and improve your overall athleticism. They're easy to do even in a crowded gym

By Travis Hansen


An exercise complex is a series of specific strength exercises that are combined into a continuous training cycle. This consists of performing these exercises in sequence, completing all repetitions of one exercise before moving on to the next. Traditionally, complexes are performed with barbells, but dumbbells have several advantages in this case. Try the following two complexes:

Dumbbell complex 1

  • Dumbbell burpee: 3-8 repetitions x 3-5 sets
  • Dumbbell sumo deadlift: 3-8 repetitions x 3-5 sets
  • Dumbbell rowing with both arms: 3-8 repetitions x 3-5 sets

Dumbbell complex 2

  • One-arm suitcase deadlift or shoulder press: 3-8 repetitions x 3-5 sets
  • One-arm dumbbell row: 3-8 reps x 3-5 sets
  • Single-leg Romanian deadlift: 3-8 reps x 3-5 sets

The benefits

1 - They help to restore structural symmetry

Structural asymmetry is common. Subtle but potentially devastating shifts in weight during squats, deadlifts or bench presses can lead to tissue overload and performance plateaus. Dumbbell complexes have the inherent power to address multiple deficits in movement.

2 - They burn a ton of calories

Complexes trigger a high level of metabolic disruption in the body, resulting in increased fat loss. This is especially true if an athlete has a solid strength base.

3 - They are great for high-intensity conditioning training or active recovery

Complexes can be downright nasty, but you can manipulate the training parameters (use less weight, limit sets and reps, etc.) so that you're working more towards active recovery.

4 - You improve the rotating core function

Proper development of rotational core function is important for both performance and long-term health. Most daily movements and also most exercises take place in the sagittal plane with movements from front to back. Exercises such as pallof presses, cable chops, plank progressions, renegade rowing and one-arm training/complexes can address this issue. Multidirectional stability throughout the kinetic chain is essential for health and performance.

5 - They help you master exercises more technically

Complexes typically involve a moderate to high training volume, so the repetition scheme is well suited to improve motor learning.

Tip: Build your triceps with these 6 methods

Take these tips from an insanely strong powerlifter and apply them to your training.

By Adam Bentley


Which training techniques are best for triceps?

Scientific research has examined a number of exercises regarding triceps brachii activation. Here's what we know:

1- Perform either single-joint (isolation) or multi-joint exercises

Interestingly, scientific studies have measured similar levels of electrical activity in the triceps muscles (EMG) during isolation and basic exercises. This is true for weights in the 10RM weight range for bench press, close bench press, dips and many variations of triceps presses including lying triceps press, overhead triceps press and cable triceps press (Bohler et al. 2011, Soares et al. 2016).

2 - Forget the training ball

Press exercises performed on a Swiss ball or balance cushion are inferior to exercises performed on a stable surface and are pretty useless if you are already quite strong (Saeterbakken et al. 2013). To maximally engage the triceps, use a stable position with a stable weight. In other words, you need a weight bench and a barbell.

3 - Prefer a barbell to dumbbells

In many cases, barbell and dumbbell variations of an exercise are quite similar, but this is not the case for tricep training. Dumbbell bench presses and dumbbell overhead presses cannot compete when compared to the equivalent barbell or multi-press exercise variations, probably because dumbbells limit the total weight used (Saeterbakken et al. 2011, 2013).

4 - Train heavy

You can't fool your triceps with light weights. It is well known that muscle activity increases with increasing weight, but even if you bench press with maximum acceleration, heavier weights (up to 1RM weight) are better for engaging the triceps than lighter weights (Newton et al. 1997).

5 - Use a bench with a slight negative incline or a flat bench

Barbell presses are the king of multi-joint exercises for the triceps. You should use a flat bench or a bench with a slight negative incline (the pad points downwards), as triceps activation is superior at these angles compared to variations on the incline bench (Barnett et al. 1995).

6 - Use a narrower grip

Compared to bench presses with a wide grip, the EMG amplitude at moderate weights is twice as high when you use a narrow grip (Lehman et al. 2005).

How should you train your triceps?

Heavy bench presses produced some of the best EMG amplitudes for the triceps - in addition to the fact that this exercise respects the anatomy and individual lever arms () of the muscle heads of the triceps.

We can make bench presses even better for building the triceps by using a close grip, as this variation increases the involvement of the triceps.

You can also perform bench presses in a way that emphasizes the upper part of the exercise. For example, you can perform partial repetitions such as board presses or floor presses ("bench press" lying on the floor). You should also train bench presses with variable resistance (with bands or chains).

Tip: Always start with an empty bar

Some of the strongest strength athletes in the world start their training with an empty bar. Here's why you should do the same

By Paul Carter


The more time you take to warm up on your first exercise, the better your work sets will feel, and starting with an empty bar to see how your body feels that day will tell you a lot early on. Try to get to the point where you can tell if your training session is going to be good, average or miserable by the time you use the empty bar.

Using an empty bar will allow you to make some instinctive adjustments to load patterns rather than simply sticking to the planned pattern. If you planned to do heavy sets of 5 reps, but you know from your warm-up with the empty bar that something feels tight or not right, then you should reduce the intensity that day and do more volume with a lower weight. This has saved my ass several times when it came to injury avoidance and it can help you too.

Rules for warming up with an empty bar

  1. Treat your warm-up with respect. Perform your warm-up sets in the same way and with the same care as your heaviest sets.
  2. Perform your repetitions in the same way. Yes, an empty bar will feel light, but doing reps with the empty bar where you throw the weight around wildly is stupid. Use clean and steady reps. Pay attention to how your joints feel and how your body moves. This will give you some clues for the rest of the training session. Does it need to be adjusted? The empty bar will let you know.
  3. Perform 2 to 4 sets of 20 to 40 repetitions. Yes, that's a wide range. If everything feels good after two sets, add some weight. If you feel stiff after two sets, then you don't need to add weight yet. Take as much time as you need with the empty bar until your setup, technique and repetition feel good.

By Bret Contreras

Previous article The definitive guide to preventing muscle loss