Physical Therapy Assistant Guide

Welcome to the PTA Guide, a physical therapy assistant education & career resource. We have everything you need to become a licensed PTA in your state. A few of the helpful things that you'll find here are information resources by state such as tools and info on PTA Schools, PTA license requirements, PTA Jobs, PTA salary data for states & major cities.
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WOW #17: Tricep Dip Workout


Work Out Wednesday #17 – Tricep Dips Exercise

Dips are a great exercise for naturally developing all 3 heads of your tricep muscle as well as your deltoids (front of your shoulder). Dips can also be modified to target your pectorals (chest) muscles. Dips are a great functional exercise that helps athletes build strength and pushing power which is used in many sports.

As a physical therapist assistant working with athletes you can recommend dips as a way for them to increase their pushing power and enhance their performance. It is important that you teach your patients proper execution of the dip exercise.

I see people in the gym performing dips improperly and this can lead to shoulder injury, which is NOT something you want to risk. So, it is worthwhile to learn the proper form for dips so that you can prevent injury. A couple tips and videos should do the trick.

Applying Tricep Dips to Physical Therapy

Tricep dips can be used in physical therapy to:

  • Help athletes improve functionally
  • Increase push power for athletes
  • Increase tricep and pectoral strength
  • Increase flexibility and mobility for shoulders, pectorals and triceps

How to do dips properly

This video shows an athlete performing dips to improve his tricep strength and pushing power. Following his motion when performing your dips is important to avoid injury while exercising the right muscles. It is important to note that as you first start out doing dips you should not go as low as he goes in this video. You will need to slowly build up to this full range of motion, and practicing with chair dips is a great way to do this (the next video teaches chair dips). The reason you don’t want to go this low at first is because you can injure your shoulder, so you need to build up some strength first by doing chair dips.

How to do dips on a chair at home

For some of your patients that may not have access to, or prefer not to go to, a gym you can teach them to do dips at their house using a chair. Chair dips are also slightly easier, so these are good for patients that are not strong enough to do a regular dip. A chair dip is an assisted dip that can aid patients in learning the proper motion and building some initial muscle and strength before moving onto a regular dip.

How to target your chest or triceps when doing dips

The athlete in this video explains and demonstrates how to adjust your motion when doing dip exercises to target your triceps versus your pectorals.

Complete Dip Workout With Warmup

This is a great video showing a complete dip workout including a warmup to stretch your shoulders which will drastically help to reduce risk of shoulder injury. Scott does a great job explaining what you need to focus on to build tricep muscle and pushing strength, which are your goals when performing dips.

General Tips for Dips:

  • Bend your knees so that your feet clear the ground
  • Keep your elbows straight but do not completely lock them out
  • Keep your back straight at the beginning of the exercise
  • Keep your body as straight as possible as you descend
  • Your head and shoulders should be aligned vertically
  • Do not lower your body quite to the point that your arm is bent 90 degrees, doing so risks shoulder injury
  • Inhale as you descend and exhale as you push up

There you go. A great exercise for developing triceps, deltoids, and pectorals while increasing upper body strength and pushing power. This is a great movement to train your athletic therapy patients on to help them prevent injury and increase sports performance.

Have you tried tricep dips? Do you tell your therapy patients to do tricep dips? If so, tell us about it in the comments below! 🙂

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