Why Bench Dips Are Bad For Your Shoulders (And What To Replace Them With)

Why Bench Dips Are Bad For Your Shoulders (And How To Replace Them)


  • Bench dips are one of the most popular tricep exercises, but they can inflict some major damage on your shoulders
  • Here are some alternatives you can incorporate into your workout
  • Check out more fitness tips here

Every guy loves training arms because big arms make a statement. But a mistake some guys make trying to get bigger arms is only focusing on training their biceps. They will hit every bicep exercise ever created every time they step into the gym, but they’ll be blown out at the end of the workout and will only hit the triceps as an afterthought.

That’s actually a big mistake, as it ignores the fact that the triceps make up the majority of the mass of the upper arms.

If you want to make it rain with unlimited tickets to the gun show, you have to add mass to your triceps and make them a priority in your arm workouts. The key is finding the exercises that are effective without sacrificing the health of your joints.

Enter one of the worst exercises you can do for building up your triceps: bench dips.

Why You Should Avoid Bench Dips

You have definitely seen someone hitting this horrific shoulder-snapping exercise in the gym.  They probably had a stack of plates on their lap and were screaming through every rep.

Bench dips are performed with your hands on a flat bench and feet elevated on another bench or box.

As you drop down into the bottom of the movement, the front of your shoulders will be driven forward which causes a massive amount of stress and strain on the front of your shoulders (look at Arnold’s shoulders in the above picture).  This is a big problem for guys who have preexisting shoulder issues or a current shoulder injury.

The lower you go and the more weight you use, the more you will strain your shoulders. Bench dips have a very high risk vs. reward ratio.

To keep your shoulders healthy and build mass on your triceps, switch out bench dips for close grip bench presses.

The Benefits Of Close Grip Bench Presses


Close grip bench presses are a serious mass builder for the triceps, and because of the grip width on the bar (narrower than when performing a regular bench press), they are a safer option for guys who want to add size to their triceps.

To get the most out of the exercise, close grip bench presses should be performed with a combination of heavy and moderate weights and a variety of rep ranges.

A common mistake some guys make is placing their hands too close together – their whole hand on the smooth part on the inside of the bar – which can cause stress and strain on the elbows.

I typically recommend taking a grip-width where the pointer fingers are right outside of the smooth part on the inside of the bar.  This will place the hand slightly narrower than shoulder width and allow heavier weights to be used.

It is important if you want to grow your arms to start making tricep training a focus in your workouts.  Simply switching the order of your biceps and triceps exercises – and performing your tricep work first – or crushing some high volume supplemental tricep exercises after your chest workout, can be the jumpstart you need to finally start adding muscle.

And just because you’ve seen guys hitting a certain exercise in the gym, doesn’t mean it is a good exercise. It just means that they’ve seen others do it and they think it will work for them.  Pick exercises that match your goals, allow you to train hard, and don’t put you at risk for injuries down the road.