How to Do Bench Dips Correctly

Performing bench dips correctly involves a precise setup, controlled execution, and awareness of common mistakes to ensure safety and effectiveness.

To do bench dips properly, sit on the edge of a bench with hands beside your hips, extend your legs, lower your body by bending your elbows until they form a 90-degree angle, then press through your palms to lift back up.

Keep reading for a more detailed explanation on mastering this exercise.


Setting up for bench dips correctly is essential for maximizing the benefits of the exercise while minimizing the risk of injury.

This section covers everything from choosing the right equipment to proper positioning and getting into the starting position.

Choosing the Right Equipment

To perform bench dips effectively, selecting the right equipment is crucial.

The primary requirement is a sturdy bench or surface that can support your weight without wobbling.

A weight bench is ideal, but if one isn't available, alternatives like stable chairs or parallel bars can be used.

Ensure that whatever you choose is stable and doesn't move when you place weight on it.

Proper Positioning

Once you have the right equipment, positioning yourself correctly is the next step.

Sit on the edge of the bench or surface, placing your hands beside your hips.

Your fingers should point forward, gripping the edge of the bench firmly.

This hand placement helps to keep your shoulders stable and prevents unnecessary strain.

For beginners, it’s often easier to keep the knees bent with feet flat on the floor.

This reduces the load on your triceps, making the exercise more manageable.

As you progress, you can extend your legs forward with your heels on the ground, which increases the difficulty and engages your triceps more effectively.

Advanced users might elevate their feet on another bench or stability ball to further increase the challenge.

Getting into Starting Position

After positioning your hands and feet correctly, lift your buttocks off the bench.

Move slightly forward to ensure your torso is clear of the bench and remains close to it throughout the exercise.

Your arms should support your weight, and your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels or knees, depending on your leg position.

Engaging your core is vital to maintain this alignment and prevent leaning too far forward or backward.


Proper execution of bench dips is key to maximizing the effectiveness of the exercise while minimizing the risk of injury.

This section provides a detailed guide on performing the lowering and raising phases correctly, ensuring you engage the right muscles and maintain proper form throughout.

Lowering Phase

The lowering phase of a bench dip begins once you are in the starting position with your body lifted off the bench and your arms supporting your weight.

Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body towards the ground.

It’s crucial to keep your elbows pointed backward and close to your body throughout this movement.

This positioning ensures that your triceps are doing most of the work and reduces strain on your shoulders.

Descend until your upper arms are approximately parallel to the floor or your elbows form a 90-degree angle.

Going beyond this point can increase the risk of shoulder injury, especially if you are new to the exercise or have existing shoulder issues.

Throughout the lowering phase, maintain a slow and controlled pace to maximize muscle engagement and reduce the risk of injury.

Inhale as you lower your body to help maintain control and stability.

Raising Phase

Once you have reached the bottom of the movement with your elbows at a 90-degree angle, begin the raising phase by pressing through your palms.

Extend your elbows to lift your body back to the starting position.

Focus on engaging your triceps during this upward motion to ensure they are the primary muscles being worked.

Maintain proper form by keeping your torso close to the bench and your shoulders down and back, away from your ears.

This helps prevent unnecessary strain on your shoulders and promotes a more effective triceps workout.

As you push back up, exhale to help with the exertion and maintain a steady breathing pattern.

Form Tips

Proper form is crucial for performing bench dips effectively and safely.

This section provides comprehensive tips on maintaining shoulder position, ensuring correct torso alignment, using proper breathing techniques, and controlling the pace of the movement.

Maintaining Shoulder Position

Keeping your shoulders in the right position during bench dips is essential to avoid strain and injury.

Ensure your shoulders are pulled back and down away from your ears throughout the exercise.

This positioning helps to stabilize your shoulder joints and reduces the risk of impingement or strain.

One common issue is allowing the shoulders to shrug up towards the ears, which can lead to discomfort and injury.

Focus on engaging the muscles in your upper back and keeping your shoulder blades retracted and depressed to maintain proper shoulder alignment.

Torso Alignment

Maintaining an upright torso and engaging your core are key to performing bench dips correctly.

Your torso should stay close to the bench, and your body should remain in a straight line from your shoulders to your feet or knees, depending on your leg position.

Engaging your core muscles helps to stabilize your body and prevent leaning too far forward or backward, which can place unnecessary strain on your shoulders and lower back.

To achieve this, consciously tighten your abdominal muscles throughout the movement and avoid arching or rounding your back.

Breathing Techniques

Proper breathing is essential for maintaining control and stability during bench dips.

Inhale as you lower your body, filling your lungs to help stabilize your torso and maintain a controlled descent.

Exhale as you press through your palms and lift your body back to the starting position.

This breathing pattern not only helps you maintain a steady rhythm but also supports your exertion during the upward phase of the movement.

Controlled breathing ensures that you remain focused and can perform each repetition with precision.

Control and Pace

Performing bench dips with a slow and controlled movement maximizes muscle engagement and minimizes the risk of injury.

Avoid the temptation to rush through the exercise, as fast, jerky movements can lead to poor form and increased strain on your joints.

Instead, focus on a deliberate pace, especially during the lowering phase.

Lower your body slowly, counting to three as you descend, to ensure that your muscles are fully engaged and that you have complete control over the movement.

This approach not only enhances the effectiveness of the exercise but also reduces the likelihood of injury by promoting better form and muscle coordination.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even with the best intentions, common mistakes can hinder the effectiveness of bench dips and increase the risk of injury.

This section outlines the most frequent errors people make when performing bench dips, providing actionable advice to help you avoid them and ensure you get the most out of your workout.

Shallow Dips

One common mistake is performing shallow dips, where the body isn't lowered enough to engage the triceps effectively.

Shallow dips reduce the range of motion, diminishing the exercise's benefits and limiting muscle engagement.

To achieve the correct depth, lower your body until your upper arms are approximately parallel to the floor or your elbows form a 90-degree angle.

This depth ensures that your triceps are fully engaged and working throughout the movement.

Avoid going deeper than this, as it can place undue stress on your shoulders.

Improper Hand Position

Incorrect hand placement can lead to poor form and increased strain on your shoulders and wrists.

Placing your hands too far forward or allowing your shoulders to rotate inward can compromise the stability of the exercise and increase the risk of injury.

To maintain proper hand position, ensure your fingers are pointing forward or slightly outward and your hands are directly beside your hips.

This alignment keeps your shoulders stable and helps distribute the load evenly across your triceps and shoulders.

Always check your hand placement before starting your dips to ensure you're positioned correctly.

Speeding Through the Exercise

Performing bench dips too quickly is another common mistake.

Rapid, uncontrolled movements reduce muscle engagement and increase the risk of injury due to jerky motions.

A fast pace often leads to poor form, which can strain your joints and muscles unnecessarily.

To avoid this, focus on a slow, controlled pace throughout the exercise.

Lower your body slowly, counting to three as you descend, and then push back up at the same controlled speed.

This deliberate pace enhances muscle activation, improves coordination, and ensures each repetition is performed with precision and control.


Adding variations to your bench dips can help you adjust the difficulty level to match your fitness level and keep your workout routine engaging.

This section explores easier and harder variations of bench dips, providing detailed guidance on how to perform each variation safely and effectively.

Easier Variations

For beginners or those new to bench dips, starting with easier variations can help build strength and confidence.

One effective technique is the bent knee dip.

To perform bent knee dips, sit on the edge of a bench and place your hands beside your hips, fingers pointing forward. Instead of extending your legs, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Lift your buttocks off the bench and move slightly forward, then proceed with the lowering and raising phases as described earlier.

The bent knee position reduces the load on your triceps, making the exercise more manageable.

As you become more comfortable and your strength improves, you can progress to the standard bench dip by gradually extending your legs forward.

Start by extending one leg while keeping the other bent, and as you gain strength, extend both legs.

This gradual progression helps you adapt to the increased difficulty without compromising your form or risking injury.

Harder Variations

For those looking to challenge themselves further, several advanced techniques can increase the difficulty of bench dips.

One popular method is elevating your feet on another bench or a stability ball.

This variation increases the range of motion and places more load on your triceps, enhancing the exercise's intensity.

To perform this variation, set up as you would for a standard dip but place your feet on the elevated surface.

Ensure that the bench or ball is stable to prevent slipping during the exercise.

Another advanced technique involves adding weight to your lap.

You can use a weight plate or a dumbbell, placing it securely on your thighs.

Ensure the weight is balanced and does not move during the exercise.

This added resistance increases the intensity of the dips, providing a greater challenge for your triceps and upper body.

When performing these harder variations, safety is paramount.

Always start with a manageable weight and gradually increase it as your strength improves.

Ensure that your form remains impeccable, as poor form with added resistance can lead to injury.

Focus on maintaining a controlled pace and proper alignment to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.


Mastering bench dips involves proper setup, execution, and form to maximize effectiveness and minimize injury.

By avoiding common mistakes and incorporating variations, you can tailor the exercise to your fitness level.

Keep practicing and refining your technique to achieve the best results and strengthen your triceps effectively.