Your triceps comprise the largest portion of your upper arm. The muscle is made up of three distinct heads. The lateral and medial head attach to different parts of the humerus bone. The long head attaches at the scapula. The three heads together make up the triceps brachii. The lateral head is best known as the horseshoe shaped portion in well-developed triceps, noticeable when viewing the muscle from the side.
The Working Heads
The distal fibers of the triceps protects the elbow joint during extreme extension movements. Strong and defined triceps heavily contribute to the overall aesthetic of the upper arm simply because they make up most of this area. Triceps dips work the entire length of the muscle effectively. To further accentuate the lateral head, contract the muscle at the top of the movement and hold for several seconds before lowering down. Be careful to keep the shoulders and trapezius down when performing dips. The goal is to protect the joints while isolating the triceps.
Take a Dip
Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Flex your feet and bring your heels to touch. Place your hands behind you, shoulders in line with your wrists, fingertips slightly fanned out to the sides. Keep your elbows pointed back behind you. Lift your seat off the floor and bring your ribcage back between your arms while tucking your tailbone up. Bending at the elbows, lower your seat down to almost touch the floor then press back up. Do 20 reps, resting after the first 10 if you need to. To make this more challenging, lift one leg off the floor, straightening it for 10 reps, then switch legs for 10 more.
Get More Dippy With It
Try bench dips for a different variation. Sit on the edge of a bench or sturdy chair. Place the heels of your hands behind you, fingertips facing in. Place your feet flat on the floor with your legs bent to 90 degrees. Slide your seat forward until it is off the bench. Bending at your elbows, lower down several inches leading with your seat. Press back up using your triceps. Repeat eight to 12 times, keeping your shoulders down and your elbows pointing behind you. Do two to three sets.
Dip Your Own Weight
Stand in between dip bars facing the machine. There should be a platform on the floor to assist you into position. Grab each bar with your hands and lift yourself up, keeping your wrists in a neutral position. Arms should be mostly straight with a 10 percent bend in your elbows to protect the joints. Your torso will naturally tilt forward. Keep your feet under your hips, crossing at the ankle. Do not over-arch your lower back. Slowly lower down to as close to 90 degrees as you can but do not drop below this point. Press back up keeping the weight in your triceps, not in your shoulders and neck. Do two to three sets of six to eight reps. This exercise is intense and may not be suited for everyone.
About the Author
Maria Ryan has more than 20 years experience in fitness and wellness. She holds a Master of Science in counseling psychology with a specialization in psychology of sport. She has reviewed articles for "Women in Sport" and "Physical Activity Journal" and books for "Author Exposure." She has presented on such topics as overtraining and burnout in youth athletes and the psychological impact of injury, and co-authored a pending research study examining stress in college students.