I’ve been working with a client for over two years. She is 47, still quite overweight due to poor food choices, but her strength is pretty good and she is proud of herself for all her gains. We do mostly free weight exercises with dumbbells, kettle balls, HIIT, circuit training. She CANNOT do tricep dips. She keeps her fingers tented and just cannot bend her elbows. Some of it might be fear of falling, but I just can’t figure this out. She is able to do other tricep exercises without problems. Any ideas on how I can help her? thanks
the triceps dip has as much to do with shoulder stabilization as with the triceps. After all, the long head of the triceps attaches to the scapula. I would begin looking there for instability. The body often protects itself by not doing what it cannot.
On the other hand: you describe her as ‘quite overweight’, and that can mean that even the portion of her body weight is still too much for her. In that case, there is really no reason to frustrate her by asking something that is not a good option yet.
Personally, I rarely have my clients do triceps dips because of the impact on the shoulder. To me, it’s one of those exercises that are not for every body.
It could just be the orthopedic angles. Being overweight doesn’t help. A triceps dip is a tough exercise. It’s why gymnasts rely on it. But your client is not a gymnast. Just focus on the exercises that target the triceps. As you know, there are lots. With time, as you help her achieve a healthy weight, she may be able to complete a triceps dip with no problem.
My first few questions for you are 1. Does she have any shoulder injury or impingement? and 2. Is the exercise itself really necessary when there are other ways to strengthen the triceps (that are safer for the shoulder)? 3. Are you having her do body weight dips from free standing bars, sitting on a bench, or with an assisted machine?
If you are trying to have her do full body weight tricep dips, it may be too much for her, and they can place additional stain on her shoulder. They may not be the best exercise for her (I personally am not a fan of tricep dips for this reason). If she does not have any shoulder issues, you could modify the exercise by having her try them with her feet on the floor first and hands on a step/bench. She would have less body weight to start, and better control over her body versus free standing bars.
Hope this helps.
My questoin is why are you making tricep dips so important? First of all, the tricep dip is not a safe exercise, even for athletic exercisers. It requires not only considerable triceps strength (can she move 50% of her body weight to perform a cable triceps extension?), but stabilization of the entire shoulder/ribs/neck musculature. Second, the triceps dip places the exerciser in a high risk position for the shoulder/elbows/wrists. Is there a functional reason to have the client perform this exercise? Third, is the triceps dip superior to all other triceps/shoulder exercises in some way that makes it the best choice? Again, I don’t think so. Is the client capable of performing a full push up? Have you used any progression programming to get the client to the desired ability to perform the triceps dip. Regression is more appropriate in this situation. The client has shown no ability to perform the exercise. Regressing to an exercise that can be performed and progressing from there is the professional approach to this situation.
And I would like to apologize for the tone of the above response. I reread it again after posting it and it is not the tone I intended. I in no way wanted to convey a chastizing tone or tone of disapproval. I would definitely have worded it in a less confrontational manner if I had reread it from the point of view of a first time reader seeing the post in print without any other frame of reference. The content is valid, but the tone is not one that would make the reader receptive.