If you seek to build large and strong arms, training your biceps is not enough; you must develop your triceps even more so. Consider that the triceps make up two-thirds of the muscle mass on the upper arm. From this anatomical fact, it is clear that your triceps influence the size potential of your arms more so than any other muscle.
The triceps consists of three heads of muscle along the back of the upper arm. The primary job of the triceps is to straighten the arm. Thus, any exercise that provides resistance to the straightening of the arm can be used to stimulate the triceps muscles. Such exercises include the push-up, the bench press, the press, and “French curls.” However, arguably nothing builds the triceps better and faster than dipping exercises.
Above is shown one variation of the dip, referred appropriately enough as the “Dipping Exercise.” You don't see many bodybuilders perform this movement these days, but many year ago this exercise was favored by many physique champions for building massive triceps. Alan P. Mead, who was a famous British physi-culturist and possessor of huge arms, achieved great gains by regularly performing dips. So did Marvin Eder, once considered the “strongest youth in the world.”
You can use a weight bench or a study table to perform the Dipping Exercise. At the start of this movement, your arms should be straight and your legs should be stretched out, straight, and at an angle about 45 degrees relative to the floor. Keeping your legs without bend, dip down slowly until the upper arms are perpendicular to the forearms. Then, smoothly and deliberately straighten your arms back to the starting position. Once at the top position, hold for a one or two second count, then repeat the process until your triceps are thoroughly taxed.
IMPORTANT: Throughout the entire dipping exercise, maintain a full concentration and contract your triceps forcibly. Doing these two things will dramatically increase the intensity of the movement and magnify growth stimulation.
No reps and sets scheme can be guaranteed to work best for everyone. However, most trainees will realize excellent gains by working the Dipping Exercise once per week, 2-3 sets per workout, 10 to 20 reps per set. Each set should be taken to momentary failure, and the exercise resistance should be increased once you reach the upper rep range. This can be accomplished by securing a strapped weight around your neck, as shown by the illustration above.
The Dipping Exercise can also be performed with your feet elevated. Typically, this movement is practiced by placing your hands on one bench and your heels on another bench of equal or near-equal height. This version is sometimes called the Reverse Triceps Pushup, and it is typically performed with a slight knee bend. The Reverse Triceps Pushup is an excellent alternative to the regular Dipping Exercise, and it can be practiced either as a pure bodyweight movement or with added resistance by securing a weight on your lap or with a neck strap.
In conclusion, you can build massive triceps with the Dipping Exercise. It is a proven muscle builder that can work wonders when properly practiced. The key for making this exercise work for you is to (1) train hard and with total commitment, (2) avoid overtraining, (3) get sufficient rest, (4) eat lots of muscle-building foods, and (5) persist in your training. Keep at it and big results will come.
Yours in strength and health,