Titans of Training: Tricep Dips vs Overhead Extensions
When it comes to looking at the best tricep exercises, we already know you're spoiled for choice. There are some incredible exercises out there at your disposal, and that's awesome (like the top 5 here). When we take things further though, you only have limited room in your workouts. Picking the best exercise isn't an easy feat. As a result, one of the biggest toss-ups comes from this: tricep dips vs tricep rope extensions, usually, overhead extensions at that. It's a big question and an even bigger answer.
They're both titans of training your triceps and they’re possibly the most effective exercises available to you for both strength and size, but which of them is the more effective exercise and ultimately better for you?
We're here to take a serious look at both of these heavy tricep hitters and find just that. Let's do it.
Overhead Rope Extensions
We'll start with the more common exercise. Overhead rope extensions are a great exercise that you’ll often see in arm or push workouts, but may not always be so keen to try. Other exercises like kickbacks or pulldowns are a lot easier to do and a lot more popular after all. (Not to mention that the rope is a rare thing to come by).
Despite all this though, overhead rope extensions, especially vs dips, do bring your tricep training into a different light. It's rare to replicate that kind of angle elsewhere after all, so it's bound to have its benefits.
Once you do add overhead extensions into your workout, you’ll quickly see why it is likely to be the best cable exercise for your arms and a top-tier exercise. The movement is reasonably simple, and it allows you to really hit the long head triceps. They are so often ignored even though they are essential to true arm strength and will help you in most of your chest exercises, too.
On top of that, overhead extensions have another big point too. The exercise is one of very few that actually enables you to work all the heads of the triceps in one exercise without having to vary in equipment or in technique. This makes it extremely efficient as well as effective in increasing your overall arm strength.
As with all tricep exercises, technique can be a big issue. It’s incredibly important that you use the right form. Make sure that you’re in a split stance with your elbows around head height and pivoted so they don’t move as you extend your arms. Also, try to look forwards to ensure that you’re only using your triceps and nothing more to get the best results from the exercise.
There is also a lot more room for mistakes during this exercise as your elbows try to flare naturally and you might rely on your back too much for stabilisation. This means that it can be hard to really overload the tricep muscles, even when you think you might be.
On the other side of the dips vs overhead rope extensions, things are different. Dips are a huge contender when we’re thinking about arms. There is a range of variations you can do to make sure that you’re getting the most out of them, even if you need to start smaller by keeping your feet on the floor as you do them from a weight bench rather than a tower or bars.
Tricep dips open a range of possibilities to use weight outside of your own bodyweight, too. You can add the weight of your choice just by utilising a dumbbell so that you’re hitting the triceps that little bit harder and giving you a real arm workout. They really force the triceps to overload which is where the results of the exercise will become clear as you see an increase in growth and strength on a larger scale than can extensions offer.
One disadvantage the tricep dips do pose though is how easy it is to rely on your chest as you begin to do them. If you use a dip tower, it becomes extremely easy to begin leaning forwards as you’re doing them, which takes the focus off your tris and into your pecs. This defeats the object of the exercise, so you need to pay extra attention to your posture and keep yourself upright.
Dips also pose a risk to injury with bad form, too. All exercises can be dangerous if you don't do them properly, that's a given, but with dips, it can be very easy to lower yourself too far and risk damages to your rotator cuffs. Make sure that you're only reaching a 90-degree angle with your arms, lean back, and don't flare your elbows for safety and good technique.
Tricep dips have to be the overall winner here due to their more natural movement and the increased muscle activation that they offer. They also give you a more realistic sense of strength over rope extensions, which are more isolated and are generally easier to perform properly once you have got the technique properly mastered.
Rope extensions are still more than effective and should definitely be considered for a place in your tricep workout, even if they’re just used to hit your triceps at the beginning or the end of your routine workouts. As always, variation is the key to real muscle strength, so it’s a good idea to mix up your workouts.
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If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.