Cable Crossover vs Dips (Which is Better for Strength?)
Are you trying to decide between Cable Crossovers and Dips for your chest workout?
Both exercises are popular choices for improving strength and building muscle mass in the chest, but they differ in terms of the muscles they target and the equipment needed. Cable Crossovers involve using cables attached to a pulley system to perform a cross-body motion, while Dips are performed using a dip attachment (or a dip station).
In this article, I will compare Cable Crossovers and Dips in terms of muscles worked, range of motion, and other factors to help you determine which exercise is best suited to your training goals.
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- Cable Machine
- Chest (Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor)
- Place single-handle attachments on both sides of a cable crossover machine.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight forward lean through the torso.
- Hold handles with your arms spread and a slight bend in the elbow.
- Press the cables forward until your hands touch. (crossing the arms in the front will add more emphasis to the upper pectorals)
- Slowly bring the hands back to the starting position and repeat.
Make sure both pins on each side of your machine are on the same notch.
If you’re simply looking for Cable Crossover alternatives, check out my 10 favorite Cable Crossover alternatives for chest day.
Benefits of Cable Crossovers
Some potential benefits of incorporating Cable Crossovers into a workout routine include:
- Targeted muscle activation: Cable crossovers allow you to focus on specific areas of the chest, such as the upper, middle, or lower chest. This can help to develop muscle balance and symmetry.
- Greater range of motion: Cable crossovers allow for a greater range of motion than traditional bench press exercises, which can help to improve flexibility and mobility in the shoulders and chest.
- Variety in workouts: Cable crossovers can be a great way to add some variety to your pressing workouts to keep your program from getting stale.
- Squat Rack
- Dip Attachment
- A Dip Station can be used as well if you have access to one.
- Shoulders (Anterior Delt)
Step By Step Instructions
- Attach your dip rack to your rack. This process will vary based on your rack and dip attachment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
- Set your dip rack just above waist height. This will allow enough room for your feet not to hit the ground while doing reps, but not so high you feel you have to jump up into your first rep.
- Starting position is hands on bars, arms extended, knees slightly bent and feet crossed (crossing feet is optional but does help with unwanted swinging in my experience.
- Descend down by bending the elbows and slightly leaning forward.
- Lower yourself under control until the triceps become parallel with the ground and then drive yourself back up to the starting position.
- Repeat until all reps are completed.
The biggest mistake I see with Dips is a poor range of motion. If someone is struggling to be able to do reps, the easiest solution is to simply not lower yourself into a full rep, but this is incorrect. If a lifter cannot perform a full rep they should switch to one of the variations listed below.
The other issue I see my athletes run into is unwanted swinging front to back while doing reps. Stay under control, keep a consistent rep path, bend the knees and cross the feet. These are all solutions that I have seen help eliminate swinging while doing Dips.
FYI: If you don’t have a dip attachment, here are 10 alternatives to Dips you may be able to do instead.
Benefits of Dips
There are several benefits to incorporating dips into your workout routine:
- Increased upper body strength: Dips require a significant amount of strength in the triceps, shoulders, and chest, and performing them regularly can help you build muscle and improve overall upper body strength.
- Enhanced functional strength: Dips require you to support your own body weight, which can help improve your functional strength and stability.
- Greater range of motion: Dips allow for a greater range of motion than many other upper body exercises, which can help improve your mobility and flexibility.
- Versatility: Dips can be performed with a variety of equipment, including bars, rings, and even parallel bars, giving you plenty of options for mixing up your workouts.
Overall, dips are a valuable exercise that can help you build strength, improve muscle definition, and enhance functional strength and mobility.
Which is Better: Cable Crossovers or Dips?
Now, let’s do a side-by-side comparison of the two exercises to see if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.
Better For Building Size and Strength: Dips
In my opinion, Dips are one of the best exercises for building upper-body strength – period. It’s why Dips are one of my favorite exercises for athletes like football players.
On the other hand, Cable Crossovers are more of an isolation exercise that uses lighter weight and poor mechanical leverage (hands wide away from the midline). While this is great for isolating the chest, it’s not as effective as a compound movement like Dips.
Better For Beginners: It Depends
Which exercise is better for beginners really depends on one thing – is the person able to do Dips?
If a beginner is strong enough to properly do Dips, then Dips is hands down the better exercise. You’ll build a foundation of strength far quicker using Dips than doing Cable Crossovers.
However, if a beginner is not physically strong enough to do Dips at all, then Cable Crossovers are a better starting point. Not only will Cable Crossovers help start to develop strength, but they’ll also be much more beneficial for a beginner’s confidence compared to the frustration of continuing to fail at an exercise.
I’ve just spent the last section of this article comparing which is better – Cable Crossovers vs Dips. The truth is, there is no reason (assuming you have the available equipment) you shouldn’t have both exercises in your training program.
Both are great exercises for developing upper body strength and hypertrophy. Incorporating both exercises into your training program can also add variety and keep your workouts from getting stale.
So, my suggestion would be instead of trying to decide between the two exercises, figure out how you can utilize both Dips and Cable Crossovers in your training plan.