Weighted Dips vs Bench Press

Weighted Dips vs Bench Press (Which is Better?)

Weighted Dips and Bench Press are two of the best exercises for developing upper body strength and size.

In fact, I would make the argument that they, along with Pull-ups, make up the top 3 upper body exercises you can do in a weight room.

But, in this battle of the behemoths – is one better than the other? Which should you be incorporating in your workouts to maximize those gains?

In this article, I will compare Weighted Dips and Bench Press – looking at technique and benefits first. Then, I’ll discuss if one is better than the other depending on your training goals.

Let’s get started with Weighted Dips.

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Weighted Dips

Weighted Dips (1)

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.
  • Choose and setup the form of resistance you are using to add weight*.
  • 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

*There are multiple ways to add weight to Dips. A couple of the most popular ways are:

  • Wear a weighted vest.
  • Wrap a lifting chain (used for bench and/or squat) over the shoulders.
  • Hold a dumbbell with the feet.
  • Using a dip belt with a chain designed to hang weight plates (pictured above).

The biggest mistake I see with dips, including Weighted 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.

Bench Press

Bench Press

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 thumbs-width grip from the knurling and completely close your grip. Keep your knuckles pointing toward the ceiling and squeeze the barbell.
  • Later in this article, I will go over other popular grips and why they are used.
  • Unrack the weight and take a deep breath.
  • Control the barbell down during the eccentric movement and draw the barbell in, keeping the elbows at about a 45-degree angle away from the torso.
  • 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

Always have a spotter, regardless of the weight. Yes, even for the lighter sets.

When you bring the bar down, lightly tap the chest and then press back up. Do NOT bounce it. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve watched Bench Press like they were mad at their sternum.

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

Make small gains in weight over time.

Weighted Dips vs Bench Press: Is One Better?

Now, let’s compare the two exercises side by side and discuss if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.

Better For Developing Size and Strength: Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press vs Barbell Bench Press

I’m giving Bench Press the edge here when it comes to developing strength and hypertrophy, but I want to be clear – BOTH exercises are VERY effective at building strength and size.

This is similar to comparing LeBron vs Jordan. One may be better, but both are the best of the best.

Bench Press is slightly better because Bench Press is more chest-dominant with triceps being more of a secondary muscle group. Weighted Dips are the opposite.

And, because the triceps (being the smaller muscle group) will always give way before the chest, the point of failure is going to happen sooner. Bench Press has a better ability to train multiple muscle groups harder than Weighted Dips.

Bench Press is also more versatile. You can change equipment (barbell to dumbbells) and change angles to vary to challenge to the body. Weighted Dips just doesn’t have that same level of versatility.

Better For Beginners: Bench Press

I’m giving Bench Press the edge here for beginners because the bar of entry, so to speak, is lower.

Regular Dips with no added weight can be challenging, or even impossible, for some beginners. Weighted Dips can challenge even the most advanced lifters.

With Bench Press, most beginners will be able to perform the exercise right away – even if it’s with just the bar.

For this reason, I would suggest that beginners start with Bench Press first before they try their hand at Weighted Dips.

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Final Thoughts

I just spent the last section of this article comparing which is better – Weighted Dips or Bench Press. But, the truth is, if you’re able to do both then I would highly recommend incorporating both in your strength training.

They are two of the most effective upper-body exercises you can do in the gym, especially if we’re talking about upper-body pressing exercises.

So, instead of trying to decide between the two, figure out how you can utilize both Weighted Dips and Bench Press in your workouts.

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