Dips vs Bench Dips (Which is Better For Strength?)
Dips and Bench Dips are two popular exercises that target the triceps, chest, and shoulders. Even though they have similar names, there are significant differences between the two movements in how they are performed and their overall effectiveness.
In this article, I’ll go over how to properly perform both variations and explain their benefits. Then I’ll compare the two side-by-side and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of both.
In just a few minutes you should have a good understanding of which exercise you should be utilizing in your workouts based on your training goals and experience.
- 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 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.
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.
Not able to do Dips? Here are 11 of my favorite Dip alternatives.
- Bench (a sturdy box can also work)
- Triceps, Chest and Anterior Deltoids
- Sit on the side edge of a bench and place the heels of your hands on the bench, fingers wrapping down over the edge.
- Place feet out in front of you, legs straight, heels on the ground.
- Push your body up by extending your arms and position yourself so your butt and torso are just off the edge of the bench.
- Bend the elbows and lower yourself down beside the bench.
- Stay close to the bench and keep your torso upright.
- Once the triceps become parallel to the ground, drive yourself back up to the starting position.
- Repeat until all reps are completed.
The biggest mistake I see made with Bench Dips is getting the body too far away from the bench. This puts excess strain on the shoulders and can make the movement very uncomfortable. Keep your back close to the bench throughout the movement.
You can make bench dips easier by bending the knees and placing your feet flat on the floor. Bench Dips too easy? Try one of the variations listed below.
Benefits of Bench Dips
Bench Dips are a triceps exercise that needs little to no equipment (basically anything solid that can support you). This gives them a ton of versatility to be able to be done almost anywhere at any time.
Bench Dips are a great Dip variation for beginners. Bench Dips are much easier than other variations and allow beginners to start to build the strength and confidence to progress on to more challenging movements.
Ready for something more challenging? Here are 12 Bench Dip alternatives you can try.
Dips vs Bench Dips: Which is Better?
Now, let’s look at the two Dip variations side-by-side and discuss if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.
Better For Strength and Hypertrophy: Dips
To be fair, this one isn’t really close. Dips are far and away the better exercise to build strength and muscle mass.
If you’re sure about this one, do a set of ten of both movements. Which was harder? Was it close? You need resistance to create stress which is what promotes growth. Dips are the superior movement here.
Better For Beginners: Bench Dips
However, because Bench Dips are the easier of the two movements they can be more accessible for beginners. By the way, if a brand-new lifter can knock out a set of 10 quality Dips then my answer would then be Dips. That’s not usually the case though.
Bench Dips can allow a beginner to begin to build the strength and confidence needed to then progress onto more difficult variations.
Both exercises target the chest, shoulders and especially the triceps.
I would suggest that beginners start off with Bench Dips until they are able to do sets of 20 to 25 reps. At that point (assuming you have the necessary equipment) they should be ready to progress on to regular Dips. If not, go back to Bench Dips and continue working on your chest and triceps strength.