Dips vs Close Grip Bench (Is One Best For Strength?)


Dips vs Close Grip Bench Press

When it comes to developing strength and mass in the upper body, Dips and Close Grip Bench Press are two popular exercises to consider. While both exercises target the triceps, they differ in the equipment required.

In this article, we will compare Dips and Close Grip Bench Press, including their benefits, muscles worked, and variations.

We will also provide tips on how to perform each exercise correctly to get the most out of your training. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced lifter, this article will provide valuable information on these two effective upper-body exercises.


Dips


Man Doing Dips on Dip Rack Attachment

Equipment Needed

  • Squat Rack
  • Dip Attachment
  • A Dip Station can be used as well if you have access to one.

Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Shoulders (Anterior Delt)
  • Triceps

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.

Coaching Points

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.

Don’t have a dip attachment? Here are 10 alternatives for Dips you can do instead.

Benefits of Dips

There are several benefits to incorporating Dips into your workout routine:

  1. 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.
  2. Enhanced functional strength: Dips require you to support your own body weight, which can help improve your functional strength and stability.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Close Grip Bench Press


Close Grip Bench Press (1)

Equipment Needed

  • Multi-purpose lifting rack
  • Bench
  • Barbell
  • Bumper or Iron plates

Muscles Worked

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Biceps (Isometric and eccentric contributors)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Set the height of the barbell so that when you unrack the barbell, you are only doing a very short upward concentric movement.
  • Lie flat on your back on the bench.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. (Some do find it comfortable to pull the feet back toward their butt as they arch).
  • Keep your butt on the bench.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together and keep the back of your head on the bench. You will slightly arch your back. Keep your core tight and keep the shoulder blades pulled back tight.
  • Take a narrow grip, right at the start of the knurling and completely close your grip. Keep your knuckles pointing toward the ceiling and squeeze the barbell.
  • Unrack the weight and take a deep breath.
  • Control the barbell down during the eccentric movement and draw the barbell in, keeping the elbows tight to the body.
  • The barbell will make contact with your torso right at the nipple line on the chest.
  • Once contact is made, drive the barbell back up to the starting position.

Coaching Points

By far the most common mistake with bench pressing (and almost all compound movements) is improper form. Because the lift is very technical, uses the whole body, and requires patience and persistence, lifters can have incorrect form without realizing it, go up in weight too quickly, and potentially injure themselves.

Technical tips:

  1. In regards to your setup and form; treat every rep like it’s a 1 rep max
  2. Put a tremendous amount of detail in your setup (Do it the exact same way, every rep)
  3. Make small gains in weight over time.

Common Mistakes

  1. Do not overarch the back or let your butt come off the bench. Most professionals will not accept repetitions if the butt comes off the bench but also you will likely injure yourself with poor form.
  2. Do not let the back of your head come off the bench because you are pulling down on your neck to watch the bar hit your chest. You will get used to the movement and your peripheral vision will allow you to know when the bar makes contact.
  3. Do not let the elbows flare out away from the midline. The shoulders are incredibly vulnerable in these positions and the sheer force placed on the shoulders will lead to injury if the technique is not made a priority.

Benefits of Close Grip Bench Press

Here are a couple of benefits of the Close Grip Bench Press:

  1. Increased triceps strength: By using a close grip on the barbell, the Close Grip Bench Press emphasizes the triceps muscles more than a regular bench press would. This can help to increase triceps strength and mass.
  2. Improved chest and shoulder development: While the Close Grip Bench Press primarily targets the triceps, it also works the chest and shoulders. This can help to improve the overall development of these muscle groups.

It is important to note that the Close Grip Bench Press should be performed with proper form to maximize these benefits and minimize the risk of injury.

Dips vs Close Grip Bench Press: Which is Better?

Now, let’s take a side-by-side look at the two exercises to see if one is better than the other for a few common lifting goals.

Better For Developing Size and Strength: Toss Up

Both Dips and Close Grip Bench Press are effective exercises for developing size and strength in the upper body. Saying that one is necessarily more effective than the other would really be splitting hairs.

Ideally, you should include both exercises in your training program to maximize training benefits.

Better For Beginners: Close Grip Bench Press

There are a few reasons why Close Grip Bench Press may be a better choice for beginners than Dips:

  1. Equipment requirements: Close Grip Bench Press requires a barbell and weights, which may be more readily available at a gym, especially a home gym. Dips, on the other hand, require a dip attachment or a dip station, which may not be as widely available. This can make Close Grip Bench Press a more convenient exercise for beginners to perform.
  2. Progression: Close Grip Bench Press allows for progressive overload more easily, as the resistance can be increased simply by adding weight to the barbell. With Dips, it can be more difficult to progressively increase the resistance, as the only way to do so is by using a dip belt or weighted vest. This may make Close Grip Bench Press a more suitable exercise for beginners who are looking to progressively increase the difficulty of their workouts.
  3. Form and technique: Close Grip Bench Press is generally a simpler exercise to learn and perform correctly than Dips. Dips require proper body positioning and control, which can be challenging for beginners to master. Close Grip Bench Press, on the other hand, is a more straightforward exercise that can be learned with less difficulty. This can make it a better choice for beginners who are still working on their form and technique.

It is important to note that both Dips and Close Grip Bench Press can be effective exercises for beginners, and the best exercise for any given person will depend on their individual goals and current strength.

It also may be a good idea for beginners to start with Close Grip Bench Press and then progress to Dips once they have developed the necessary strength and technique.

Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent the last section of this article comparing which is better – Dips vs Close Grip Bench Press. 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 excellent exercises for developing upper body strength and muscle mass. 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 Close Grip Bench Press in your training plan.

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Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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