Dips vs Bench

There are many exercises meant for building upper body strength, which focus on muscles like pectoral muscles, deltoid muscle, latissimus dorsi muscle, trapezius muscle, abdominal muscles, erector spinae muscles, triceps, and biceps. However, dips and bench presses are two exercises recommended primarily for building the pectoralis major (chest), triceps and anterior deltoid (delts), where rhomboids (back) are the secondary muscles.

One of the greatest arguments on upper body development is whether dips are better than bench presses or vice versa. The techniques, benefits, and differences of both the exercises will be covered in this article to ascertain the better upper body exercise.  

Dips – Techniques and Benefits

Dips are sometimes referred to as the squats of the upper body. The exercise primarily emphasizes the chest, triceps and delts. It is one of the fundamental exercises included in many strength training and bodybuilding programs. The dip posture determines the primary muscle group that will be worked upon. Two variations can be performed with a parallel dip bar namely tricep dips and chest dips. In a tricep dip, one hops on to the dip bar platform and lifts oneself by grabbing the bars with straightened arms. Then the body is lowered by bending arms while maintaining an upright torso and keeping feet below the body.

One must go down till the shoulders are below the elbow level. Subsequently, one returns to the former position by lifting oneself. Whereas, in a chest dip, the torso is in a forward-leaning position and the feet are kept behind the body. Another difference between the two variations is that there is more elbow flexion in a tricep dip. The exercise can also be performed on a bench or a sofa in the absence of dip bar equipment. The range of motion is greater in dips and makes the chest wider and thicker. Dips are great for enhancing the strength and flexibility of shoulder muscles. The exercise is also beneficial for improving the overall functional strength of the core. Furthermore, dips are excellent for building muscle mass, increasing strength and improving functionality.

Bench – Techniques and Benefits

The bench press is a popular workout choice for building muscle mass and increasing core strength in a short duration of time. An interesting aspect of this exercise is that it gives the individual the liberty to increase the weight that is being lifted, apart from the number of sets and repetitions.

This type of upper body workout is versatile, thanks to its numerous variations, range of motion and focus on different pectoral muscles. The barbell bench press and the dumbbell bench press are the two popular variations of the bench press. The barbell bench press is a great compound exercise that works on multiple muscles. The flat barbell bench press is a great compound exercise that primarily targets the middle pecs and lower pecs. The incline barbell bench press works on the upper muscles of the chest and the decline barbell bench press works on the lower region of the chest. Anterior delts and triceps also get worked during the bench press exercise as they are the main movers that facilitate the movement.

The dumbbell bench press is a good isolation exercise that has better muscle activation and a greater range of motion. Similar to the barbell bench press, there are flat, incline and decline variations for the dumbbell bench press. In general, the bench press is an amazing exercise for the overall development of the pectoral muscles along with delts and triceps, which increases the upper body strength.

Dips vs Bench

Both dips and bench presses score well when it comes to upper body development. These exercises have their own distinct set of advantages and disadvantages that would help one in making an apt work out plan. When it comes to the bench press, it would be the ideal exercise for increasing upper body strength. However, shoulder flexibility would be lost in this upper body exercise. The dips on the other hand focus on various muscle groups like the chest, shoulders and triceps. They make the pectoral muscles wider as well as thicker. Dips are a lot tougher than bench presses, particularly when weights are added during dips.

It could be in the form of a weighted vest, dip belt or a dumbbell held between legs. Bench presses are easier because the bodyweight is stabilized by the bench. Dips are a part of calisthenics or bodyweight training exercises, where the body needs to be stabilized during the movement without the help of any support. Bench presses have lesser functionality when compared with dips. These two exercises can lead to mild as well as serious injuries when they are performed incorrectly.

One of the most common reasons for injury is due to improper form. Those benching heavy must do so with a partner so that they can safely workout. It is recommended for heavy benchers to stretch properly, focus on form and increase the strength of their rotator cuffs and stabilizers. The bench press gives better results, when it comes to aesthetics.


It is evident from the differences stated above that both exercises have their pros and cons. Nevertheless, a combination of dips and bench presses would be great for the overall development of the upper body muscles. However, some people cannot do dips or bench presses due to certain injuries or shoulder issues. They could go for alternative exercises that wouldn’t aggravate their condition such as push-ups. In the end, an individual’s personal goals determine the exercises that would be incorporated in the workout routine. People can make use of the different variations of dips and bench presses.

In a given workout session, a person could do one set of bench press followed by one set of dips or do a few sets of bench press then followed by a few sets of dips. This way the rotator cuffs are not overworked during the workout session. The only mistake one can make is not doing either exercise.