This is a very popular tricep exercise. Here it is performed as well as possible. However, it is an exercise I loathe and detest, principally because the hands are behind the body and the arms turned inwards.
The majority of us do not have a lifestyle that encourages good posture. Maybe if we all plastered ceilings several times a week, things would not be so bad. Such an activity encourages the chest to open up. However, I can honestly say I have never plastered a ceiling in my life. But as life is normally, we sit at desks, drive, push pushchairs, spend hours playing on our i-phones and so on. All of which encourage our upper back to round, our heads to poke forwards and generally live with appalling posture. Then, in a fit of energy, we decide to do something about our flabbernated arms1 and decide to have a go at the body weight exercise, tricep dips.
The only way of succesfully doing this exercise requires good thoracic extension – this is the ability to be able to bend the upper back backwards. Then the shoulders will sit back. Now we have to have a stonking lower trapezius – an inverted triangle of muscle that holds the shoulder blades down, so that as we go up and down, our shoulders stay still and do not rise to our ears. If we go too low, then the fronts of the shoulders have to roll forwards, which excites all those muscles that already busy all day rolling our shoulders forwards and rounding our upper back, so the range of movement can only be quite small. Also the only way of putting the hands on the bench involves turning the arms inwards, and again this happens quite enough in our lives without encouraging more of it.2 Therefore this exercise is not only a waste of time and effort, it strengthens stooping.
There are two body weight exercises that will help overcome the flyceps- flabby upper arms: tricep press ups and tricep dips done between two bars. The latter also requires a very strong lower trapezius and, for most females will lead to the development of manceps – a woman with arms like a man. Mind you, better manceps than flarmies! 3
- Flabbernated – a term I found on the hilarious Urban Dictionary website: Girl, not only is your ass fat, but your arms are flabbernated. [↩]
- A simple test to perform is hold a pen in each hand and stand up normally. The pens should be pointing forwards. Frequently they point inwards, a sure sign of internally rotated arms. [↩]
- Flarmies: flabby upper arms. [↩]