When it comes to building upper body muscle groups like the chest, triceps, and deltoids, there are two exercises that always appears as the two top recommendations: dips and bench presses. These two exercises were specifically designed to work on developing our upper body muscles. However, a question that always manages to spring up in any conversation regarding upper body workout is which of the two offer the better benefit?
In this article, we will take a closer look at dips and the bench press to figure out which one reigns supreme at the top as the best chest exercise.
Bench Press – What Makes it Great?
The bench press is one of the most popular weight training exercise around. It helps to improve core strength and build muscle mass quickly. However, is it a good exercise for building chest muscles? Let’s find out.
The bench press is primarily utilized by bodybuilders due to its muscle mass building benefits. However, while it does greatly improve on overall strength and help you sculpt those muscles, it does come with several downsides.
One of the biggest issue bench press has when it comes to developing chest muscles is that both deltoids and pectoral muscles are worked on evenly. Chances are your deltoids will already be gassed out before your pectoralis major manages to obtain any significant gains.
Another downside to bench presses would be its affinity to shoulder injuries. For example, flat bench press has a relatively high percentage of causing rotator cuff injury. Bench presses must be done properly. One wrong move can lead to catastrophic injuries.
Also, doing bench press regularly and exclusively will greatly inhibit your shoulder’s mobility and flexibility. Numerous bodybuilders who primarily do bench press will experience problems with their shoulder flexibility. Ask any bench press enthusiast to reach behind their back and you will see what I mean.
The fact that the bench press contributes to shoulder inflexibility can also lead to other injuries in the process. Also, there is a common misconception that this inflexibility is due to your muscle mass being too large. On the contrary, bigger muscles improve flexibility. This inflexibility is mainly due to how the bench press exercise is designed and conducted.
Dips – What Makes it Great?
Dips are designed primarily for developing chest muscles. Not only does it develop thickness, but it also improves the overall width of the chest. This is the biggest advantage dips have against bench press. While bench press can also develop the width of your chest muscles it will need to utilize flies to do so. Dips, on the other hand, already offer that benefit by default.
Another benefit that dips offer that bench press does not revolves around shoulder flexibility. Doing bench press can actually limit the flexibility on your shoulders in the long run. Dips, however, helps improve flexibility and strength of your shoulder muscles.
Dips also help improve your core functional strength. Not only can dips improve muscle mass, but it can also help build up your strength. Basically, if you prefer muscles that are not just for ‘show’ then I highly recommend you incorporate dips into your daily exercise routine. There is a reason why the bench press is not usually utilized by most athletes as they require an exercise that helps develop the entirety of the body. Or at the very least, offers practical benefits as well.
Dips VS Bench – Blow for Blow
Both dips and bench presses focus on building up your upper body quite well. As you might have figured out from reading the basics on both exercises above, each has their own strengths and weaknesses which will help you figure out which exercise to utilize.
For example, the bench press is perfect for building up your overall upper body strength but you will lose flexibility on your shoulders. The dips put several muscle groups through the wringer and also builds chest muscles incredibly well. While bench presses can make your chest muscles thicker, the dips can make it thicker and wider.
Basically, dips will provide a solid exercise for those looking to improve upon their pectoral muscles while also taking care of their triceps and shoulder muscles. Another difference between the two revolves around the difficulty. Both can be quite strenuous but dips can get significantly harder, especially if you incorporate weights as well.
You should also note that both exercises can lead to injuries, both mild and serious. More so with bench presses. It is essential that you perform each exercise properly and with all safety precautions followed to the letter. Remember that the key to the best possible gains is to conduct each exercise using the correct form.
Conclusion – Dips gets the Win
All in all, I would place dips (and its variations like the triceps dips) as the better overall upper body exercise between the two. It evenly spreads its benefits to more than a couple of muscle groups and improves the flexibility of your shoulders as well.
However, not everyone can perform dips. People who have pre-existing shoulder problems or injuries should refrain from doing dips as it can exacerbate the problem. An alternative for people with shoulder problems would be push-ups.
Of course, at the end of the day why choose only one? As stated earlier, both offer exclusive benefits. The best course of action here would be to utilize both equally. A great routine would be to do dips and flat/incline bench press as well. Dips will work on your lower chest muscles while the flat bench press will have the pectoralis major muscles covered.
I have been doing dips for a couple of months now and can attest to its effectiveness. It is simple and easy to perform. It can also be done without dip stations as there is a multitude of alternatives you can find at home. If you are looking to balance out and improve your upper body, you can’t really go wrong with doing dips. As long as you don’t over exert yourself and do it properly, it is one of the most rewarding exercises you can do within the comfort of your own home bar none, pun intended.