Stop Doing This Exercise

I have been planning to start a video series of my thoughts about a variety of fitness related topics and with the flood of inquiries I have received over the last couple of weeks, I am getting it started!
I am going to share my thoughts and film a few awesome rants on various health and fitness topics. Mostly, things I think need to change and need someone who knows what they are talking about to break up some long held beliefs.

Belief: 1) an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. 2)trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something

Unfortunately, a lot of the fitness industry is based on just that. A belief. Even in light of empirical evidence or basic understandings of physiology and biomechanics, people hold on to things that are not effective or have a high risk of causing injury. Not to mention many things are just downright ineffective.
We shouldn’t be basing how we treat our bodies on a belief. We have to let those go and analyze everything empirically.
This first video is a look at one of the exercises residing on my BANNED list. I think that no-one should ever do this exercise. Ever. Period.
The Bench Dip.
If you like text and not video clips – here is a summation of why I believe this exercise should be banned.
If you look at the photo above you can see that Abbie’s shoulder is in a precarious position. It is fully extended and because of the hand placement, has some internal rotation. Then we add load to the joint, via bodyweight or some of the crazies out there who then add weight to their legs to make this exercise harder.
Now we have a joint (the shoulder) in a very unstable position, to which we then add load. THEN we go through multiple repetitions of this exercise.
Risk to shoulders – high. If you take the time to watch the video you will see what a rep looks like and I show a different way to look at this shoulder position. Often people don’t understand the biomechanics of a joint action in different perspectives.
What’s the point of a bench dip? To target the triceps. Ok, I can deal with that. You want to train triceps. Bootcamp and group ex instructors use this exercise all the time because it is easy to coach, easy to setup, and can they can put a large group through it easily.
But the price is putting the shoulder joint into a highly unstable position.
So instead I have presented an alternative. Tricep pushups. As noted in the video the tricep pushup doesn’t put the shoulder into such a precarious position and it still targets the tricep.
Win win!
It’s a lot harder though and may require some serious practice and training time. But hey, your shoulder health is worth it!
-Coach Taylor
Questions or comments? I would love to hear them! Anything you want me to post about in future blogs? Just ask!!

  1. Rob Wrz says:

    Jim – Thanks for the info. An additional question for you.
    Is the same motion, but on the floor vs. a bench, any better?
    Thanks – rob

  2. Dr. Barry Bass says:

    Great video on why not to do bench dips. Keep up the excellent work.

  3. Kat says:

    Thank you! I’ve had trainers try and do that with me in the past that didn’t get why I would refuse and ask for alternates. I didnt have the words for why, it just seemed like a trip to the ER if I ever hit fatigue quickly.

  4. CW says:

    Currently healing due to shoulder tendinitis, and wish I would have found this post sooner. I’ve done these dips for the past four months (body weight only) at the request of a personal trainer. NO MORE.
    This shoulder rehab business isn’t the least bit entertaining.
    Again, many thanks.

  5. Mark Steitz says:

    Thank you for this post. One of the exercises I am supposed to do is the bench dip. I would avoid it because of the discomfort to my shoulders. I was not sure what an acceptable alternative was. I’m surprised that I did not think of the tricep pushup. Thanks for the guidance. Keep doing what you’re doing. Thanks again.

  6. Sarah says:

    Thank you so much for your honest and straightforward commentary. As a distance runner, I feel clueless about weight training, so I often go to bootcamp/strength classes for guidance. For the most part this is a great solution, but sometimes I feel a little weird about certain exercises, and I’m not armed with the knowledge to know better. I’ve never felt comfortable with the bench dip movement, and now I realize why.

  7. Dave Keenan says:

    Thanks! This has always felt wrong to me. I’ll avoid & replace it in my workout!

  8. MC says:

    What’s your opinion of dips on parallel bars? Are they in the same category as bench dips?
    Also, having listened to your podcast, I know that bench press is also on your list of exercises that aren’t recommended. From a technical point of view how does bench press differ from pushups? Is it simply the weights involved?

    • Taylor says:

      I posted about parallel bar dips on my FB page in response to that question. If you can maintain a forward lean (as in you are strong enough to) then it is much less risky. A really forward lean keeps the shoulder in a safer position – so it is not as extended or internally rotated.
      Good question on the bench press – I will do a blog/video about it in the next couple of weeks. Short answer is yes – primarily the weight involved is what is adding the risk when we compare to a pushup. I believe the biggest issue is the forced lack of rotation of the arm during extension/retraction of the arm. This same issue is present in pushups as well which is actually why pushups on those fancy rotating pushup handles are actually a better option!

  9. Excellent article. I’m facing some of these issues as well..

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