Dips vs. Bench Press For Working Triceps

Dips vs. Bench Press

In this article we take a look and see how Dips compare to bench press for working the triceps muscle. First lets take a detailed look at each exercise.


What Muscle Group Do Dips work?

The primary muscle that Dip exercises target are the Triceps Brachii, which is the large muscle at the back of the arm.

There are secondary muscles that are used and assist with this Dip exercise too like, the anterior Deltoids (The Shoulders), the Pec major and minor (The Chest), the Rhomboids and the lats (The Back).

How to Perform Dips Correctly?

Dips are a compound exercise that uses body weight.

Dips need to be performed correctly in order to maximize efficiency of the exercise and target the correct muscle group but also importantly to prevent injury of the shoulders and chest.

Dips can be performed in a couple of different forms.

One example is:

Dips on a step, Bench or a Chair –

  • Begin in a seated position with your hands shoulder width apart behind you on the piece of stable equipment that you are using and your fingers pointing forwards.

  • Slowly slide your body off of the piece of equipment whilst keeping your hands stationary and arms extended. Straighten your legs out in front of you for a more challenging position, or bend your knees for a modified version.

  • Keep your back flat against the equipment, eyes forward and chin off of your chest. This will be your starting and finishing position.

  • Slowly bend your elbows as you lower your body towards the floor, when your elbows are at a 90 degrees angle push your body back up to the starting position and repeat for 15 repetitions.

Key Notes:

  • Relax shoulders and keep them downwards to enhance the use of the Triceps

  • Do not lock elbows in order to relive tension in your elbow joints and keep the tension in the Triceps muscle.

  • Inhale as you lower your body and exhale as you push your body back upwards.

Another example is:

Dips on Dipping bars –

  • Hold up your whole body weight by holding onto the dipping bars, keeping your arms straight with a slight bend in the elbow. This is your starting and finishing position.

  • Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body downwards keeping your body in a straight line and your elbows tight against your waist.

  • When your elbows get to a 90-degree angle, push yourself back up to your starting position.

  • Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Key Notes:

  • Relax shoulders to enhance use of the Triceps

  • Keep elbows close to the body to isolate the Triceps and prevent injury to the elbow joint.

  • Inhale as you lower your body downwards and exhale as you push yourself upwards.

Dips vs. Bench Press

Bench Press

What Muscle Group Do Bench Presses Use?

The primary muscle used in a Bench Press is the Pectoralis Major (The Chest).

There are also secondary muscles used as accessories, these muscles are the Anterior Deltoids (Shoulders) and the Triceps Brachii.

How to Perform a Bench Press Correctly?

In order to perform a Bench Press a bench will be needed as well as a weighted barbell.

  • Lay your body flat on a bench. Your hips, back and neck should be in a straight line. Your back needs to be flat to the bench, your core muscles contracted and your feet flat and planted into the ground. The Barbell should be over your breastbone area.

  • Grip the barbell in a neutral position with your hands shoulder width apart. Arms should be extended with a slight bend in the elbow, ensure wrists are straight and not hyperextended. This is your starting and finishing position.

  • Lower the bar to mid chest level with your arms at a 45 degree angle so you protect your shoulders and maximize the use of your chest muscles.

  • Just before the bar touches your chest push the bar back to starting position.

  • Repeat for 15 repetitions.

Key Notes:

  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and pulled downwards throughout the whole move.

  • Inhale as the bar is lowered and exhale as the bar is pushed upwards.

  • When pushing the bar upwards, drive your feet into the ground and push your back into the bench, this enables the maximum force output.

Is One Exercise Better Then The Other?

All exercises are great within their own means as all exercises serve a different purpose and work different muscles of the body.

While these two exercises target similar muscle groups of the upper body, they both have their separate benefits.

The Bench Press works the Pectoralis Major muscle (The Chest), which is a very large muscle in the body. The advantage of training the chest is the ability to lift heavier weight then smaller muscle groups. Working the bigger muscle groups in the body helps to burn more fat and increase the metabolism.

Dips isolate the Triceps muscles more. The advantages of training the Triceps are for appearance, tone and definition of the arms, and as the Triceps are involved in all pushing movements in daily life, the more you work the muscle, the stronger it will become and the easier daily tasks will also become.

In conclusion, one exercise is not better then the other. Although dips targets the triceps more than bench press, so  if your focus is solely on the triceps this probably the better option. Bench press works the triceps more as a secondary muscle and it's main target error is the pectoral muscles.