Shoulder Pain and Tricep Dips

I just got an email from an online training client.

She is testing out my upcoming shoulder pain program.

It is so cool getting emails like this:

Dear Rick,

Thank you for your email. Sorry for not replying to your email earlier. I had a friend in crisis staying at my house, I was helping her all week and she just left on Friday.

Today I have completed the first day of your program ( Sunday 1st May ) and I am very happy with the result.

Both shoulders are getting a bit more movement and I look forward to doing these exercises each day to see how much improvement I can get by next Sunday.

I will be going on my 3 month camping trip around Australia next Tuesday and I will have my computer with me. I might not be able to email you when I am at a remote location. My plan is to report to you at the end of each week, however depends on when I can get a signal to send emails.

Thank you for your help and I look forward to talking to you next week.

All the best,

It is great to get great feedback like this and also to be able to help people around the world.  Plus I love the fact she is doing the exercises where ever she is, even on her camping trip.  Camping in Australia would be fun, I have yet to do that.  Soon enough.

One other thing she said in her email was she was having difficulty with some of the stretches for the shoulder and was wondering what she could do.  I will do another blog post on what you can do if the typical shoulder stretches cause you pain.

Back to today’s post.

This past weekend at the Exercise Rehabilitation of the Lower Body course, a fitness professional asked me about the tricep dip exercise.

She had been giving it to a client and it had been causing her shoulder pain.  She wondered why it would be causing her pain and if she should be doing it.

I cringe when I see someone doing a tricep dip.  It is not a great exercise for the shoulder.  Let me explain why:


Few Thought from Rick on Tricep Dips:

I Used To Do It

This was an exercise that I was taught when I started out doing personal training.

I thought it was good for the triceps but I always did not feel right doing the exercises as I felt a lot of stress in my shoulder.

Now that I have trained a few people and have a better understanding of the biomechanics of the shoulder, I have put this exercise in the museum of exercises.  Right beside ballistic toe touching in leg warmers and spandex.

Rotator Cuff and AC Joint Injuries

Just like leg extensions are not the best exercises for a client with a knee injury, tricep dips are not the best for someone with a rotator cuff or AC joint injury.

Great Way of Sawing Your Rotator Cuff

I know we are all fans of Jillian Michael’s kettlebell technique.

How about Bob:

Can you hear her rotator cuff being sawed?

Way to go Bob!  100 reps!  CrAzY.

Can you image a client who is overweight and needs to lose 50 pounds doing Bob’s challenge?

With every repetition her scapula anterior tilts and digs into her rotator cuff.

I shake my head.

Why would anyone do 100 reps of a small muscle group?


What Range of Motion Do You Work In?

In the video I said I work within 25 degrees of shoulder extension.  If the client has not changed in the position of the scapula due to anterior shoulder tightness, I may extend this to 45 degrees.

Am I Off My Rocker

I guess a few people on my Facebook page agree with what I have to say.

If you are looking for an the exercise rehabilitation program that I use with my clients, CLICK HERE.

That is it, have a great day.

Rick Kaselj, MS

P.S. – Here are a few other shoulder pain videos that may also interest and help you:

Strength is Not Always the Answer to a Rotator Cuff Injury

Why Use the Towel with Rotator Cuff Exercises

Exercise Modification for the Lateral Raise



Facebook comments:


  1. Excellent blog post Rick. What are your opinions on parallel of v-bar dips? I personally love em, but the stronger I get on them (210 lb BW + 150 external load) the more shoulder instability I feel. You can lean your torso forward, which decreases the shoulder flexion, but it’s still going to be greater than the 25 degrees you say is the limit. Anyways, great read. That bob dude is what gives trainers a bad name.


  2. Hey Rick,

    I love the towel idea!

    It’s been almost a month, but I have to say that my shoulder is feeling nearly 100%. Thanks for all the tips and info!

    -Lean Muscle Matt


  3. OK Rick, you are the man. I could only watch that Bob Horton video for 50 seconds before my shoulders started burning. What’s up with this guy anyway? Is he like taking over the #1 position of worst DVD trainer from Jillian or what?

    Secondly, I want you to write guest posts for Project Swole. This site and your advice are both under rated, and I want to feature you monthly, if not weekly, as a guest poster. Let me know if you are interested.


  4. Oh man, this is perfect. For the last ten years, I’m always dealing with shoulder pain. Once I thought I really damaged the rotator cuff, but it pretty much healed with rest, and immobilization. Since then I always do shoulder warm-ups with a towel.


  5. As a kid growing up, my Dad always suffered from shoulder pain, so we’ve been raised to be conscious of activities that put extra stress on the shoulder. The whole thought of doing dips just kills me.

    Great advice!


  6. You can redesign the exercise, between two chairs, keeping the scapula stable and just extending the 25° and working the rest from the ellbow. you can also pronate the forearm to keep the glenohumeral joint from putting too much stress on the anterior capsule.

    e.g. mma fighters would need that movement all the time.



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