How To Do Chair Dips: Technique & Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Chair dips are a great alternative to regular dips if you want to increase arm, core and lower back strength, among others.

Chair Dips

As delicious as they may sound, chair dips are not something to scoop up with potato chips on a lazy day, but rather a variation of an exercise designed to work on your triceps. Chair dips are generally considered an easier exercise than regular dips, which use a parallel bar. This exercise is an accessible strength builder for people of many different physical skill levels that you can do almost anywhere.

Benefits Of Chair Dips

Triceps – If regular dips are out of reach for your physical abilities, only pressing a part of your own weight can be a great way to build up strength in your triceps, and also strengthen your joints. According to Dr. Nigel Sutherland, in a study published by Cambridge University, exercises like chair dips are also effective for tricep muscle recovery following injury or illness.

A man in gym clothes performing dips between two brown stools.

Chair dips are easy-to-do and can be performed anywhere. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Pectoral Muscles – This exercise is designed specifically to target the triceps, but it also stretches the pectoral muscles, encouraging the chest to build strength in a balanced way during other weightlifting exercises. It is convenient to do these dips at home or at work, and you will notice effects within a month if you incorporate this exercise into your daily routine.

Core and Lower Back – While this isn’t the focus of the exercise, there is some amount of balance and stability required to execute these dips accurately and safely, which can help to improve your lower back and core muscles, even if you don’t realize you are exerting them.

How to Do Chair Dips

You will need a strong and stable chair for this exercise and a large enough space that is free of sharp or dangerous objects. You can place the back of the chair against a wall to ensure that it doesn’t slide backward while you are performing the exercise.

  • Sit on the edge of a chair, facing forward.
  • Put your hand on the edge of the seat, shoulder width apart and in line with your hips.
  • Ensure you have a firm grip and lift your lower body off the chair.
  • Keeping your head and chest lifted, walk your feet forward until the heels are an inch or two in front of your knees. Make sure your knees don’t bend further than your toes.
  • Lower your body down, keeping a minimum angle of 90 degrees at the elbows. To make sure the joints remain safe, keep the elbows tucked into the body and try not to let them flare out.
  • Lift the hips and heart upward, straightening the arms and supporting your body weight.
  • Repeat this lifting and lowering motion as many times as feels appropriate to your body.

Side Effects of Chair Dips

It is important to do chair dips properly to avoid excess stress on the shoulders, upper back, and wrists. Don’t bend your knees past your toes. Keep your arms bent at a minimum of 90 degrees to protect the elbow joints. Maintain a micro-bend in the elbows, even when the arms are straight and don’t ‘lock out’ on the joint. Stop this exercise if you feel muscle fatigue, which will often show itself in symptoms of weakness and muscle trembling. Older individuals should take particular caution with these exercises.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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