The Best Dips Alternatives- A Guide to Building Prominent Triceps and Chest

Dips are as effective for building upper body strength as squats are for the lower body. But, not everybody is strong enough to perform this challenging compound exercise. Plus, if you are already recovering from shoulder strain or injury, doing dips can aggravate your condition. 

Even if you are perfectly healthy and strong, doing dips would require you to have a dedicated dip machine or a squat rack; not squat stands or half racks. If you don’t have one in your home gym and are not in the mood to buy one, you must be looking for the most effective alternatives to tricep dips. That's what this article intends to cover. 

Here I am going to discuss 5 highly effective tricep and chest dip alternatives that you can do at home without investing too much money or space. 

1. Diamond push-ups

The perfect dip alternative exercise for people who want to use only their bodyweight  

best dip alternatives

As you can see in the image above, this type of pushup requires you to place your hands quite closely instead of shoulder width apart. Due to its close placement, it helps activate and create tension in the tricep muscles as well as the chest and shoulder muscles. It also requires you to use all your balancing and stabilizing muscles, especially the core muscles. What I like the most about this tricep dip alternative exercise is that it is significantly challenging and that's why it is more effective than standard pushups. 

Since it is a bodyweight exercise, you can do it anytime, anywhere even when you do not have time to do a proper workout. It is a good option for people who are low on budget and those who live in small homes and do not have a dedicated workout space.

📖 Related Article: You can use pushup bars and handles to make your diamond pushups even more challenging. They are pretty inexpensive and yet they can add versatility to your workouts. If you are interested, you can check out my list of the The Best Push-up Bars and Push-up Handles

2- Single arm resistance band tricep extensions-

The easiest tricep dip alternative 

Tricep dip alternative

I admit that this exercise is not enough to help you grow your triceps within a few weeks. But, it is still a good option for people who can’t do complex workouts like diamond pullups, chest fly, decline bench press, etc. It is also a good option for those who travel a lot and do not often get time to workout in their gym. 

Resistance band workouts are safer than free weights, especially for beginners. You can start with tricep extensions and when you have gained enough strength, you can try more difficult moves with weights. 

💡 Quick Tip: If you are already an active person, the low-cost resistance bands may not provide enough resistance to challenge you. That's why I recommend Rogue resistance bands that provide up to 120lbs of resistance.

Rogue resistance bands

3- Tricep pushdown-

Beginner-friendly alternative to tricep dips 

tricep dip alternative

You can do this by using a cable pulley system, a LAT machine or a functional trainer/cable crossover machine

If you don’t have any of them, I would recommend you to buy a cable pulley system, provided you have some weights to add. You will also need a hook or a pull up bar to hang it. Here are some screwless doorway pull-up bars that I have reviewed. 

LAT machines and functional trainers are good for people who are already in a good shape and are dedicated enough to invest in such expensive heavy-duty machines. They need a lot of space too, so be prepared for that. 

Tricep pushdown is not as easy as it looks. Pushing down weight and releasing it gradually keeps your triceps in constant tension and gives them a decent workout even with just a few reps. Just make sure you do not lean forward as it can shift the pressure from triceps and chest to just biceps. 

4- Dumbbell fly and dumbbell rows-

A simple and doable chest dip alternative for people who have a compact home gym 

chest dip alternative

If you are fit enough to use some free weights, I would recommend you to buy a pair of dumbbells and start doing dumbbell flys and rows. For dumbbell fly, you may want to buy a flat bench or adjustable bench or you may use a reclining chair or any other furniture in your home. Whatever you use, just make sure your shoulders and head are well supported and your hands get a free range of motion. 

You may want to stand while doing dumbbell fly instead of sitting but I do not usually recommend that unless you are experienced enough to maintain your form in the standing position. Standing is perfect for rows but can be done using a bench as you can see in the image below. 

Chest dip alternative

Wondering what makes these two exercises perfect alternatives to tricep dips?

They keep your triceps, shoulders, and chest muscles in constant tension, which helps strengthen them. They open up the chest and help build the pectoral muscles too.

💡 Quick Tip: Have you heard about adjustable dumbbells? You can adjust their weight as and when needed, so you don’t have to buy multiple ones. Check out Flybird adjustable dumbbells to get an idea of how they work.

Flybird adjustable dumbbells

5- Decline bench press-

The most effective chest dip alternative for people who want to build significantly visible pectorals and triceps

chest dip alternative

The above-mentioned exercises are suitable for beginners and people recovering from injuries. But, if you are already an active person lifting a decent amount of weight, they may not be enough for you. That's when I recommend decline bench press; not the flat bench ones. It is easier than dips but more effective for building pectoral muscles and triceps. 

By putting your body in a declining position, you will be able to engage more muscles; especially the stabilizing muscles. It isn’t as easy as it sounds so start with as low weight as you can. You can start with dumbbells although a barbell is easier and safer.

📖 Related Article: Decline bench press is a challenging exercise so it’s not meant for everyone. If you want to try, you must know how to do it safely at home without a spotter. For detailed instructions, read my informational guide on How To Do Decline Bench Press The Right Way

Wrap up 

Any exercise that lets you target your chest and tricep muscles can be considered a good alternative to dips. If you are a highly committed person, you can invest in a pec deck machine or a functional trainer but if you don’t have space, don’t worry. The above exercises should help you build stronger triceps and pectorals. 

The only advice that I have for you is to go slow and focus on holding your position instead of rushing and finishing as many reps as possible. 

That's it for this article. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please share an email or leave a comment. Keep reading my other articles for more such interesting information. 

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