Chest Dips Vs. Triceps Dips: What’s The Real Difference?

chest dips vs. triceps dips

While both of these are dips, the approach is very much different.

Our chest and triceps have tons of exercises we can perform to pack on some great muscle mass, but the debate over chest dips vs. triceps dips is a real one, which one is better? Both of these exercises will work to build muscle in each respective muscle group, but is one better to perform over the other for the mere fact that it makes more sense?

Your chest and triceps are those two pushing muscles to take seriously. While each provides for functional and sport specific movements, for those of us bodybuilders, they only add to our already shredded and sculpted physique.

If both are dips, then aren’t they the same exercise? It’s a fair question, but the difference lies in the approach. Yes, these are both dip exercises, and yes, both muscle groups do get work done with each, however, the emphasis and sole focus of targeting each muscle is what matters. And with so many exercises out there, knowing which ones to use are perfect for seeing those gains you want most.

Let’s jump into this and see what the real difference is between chest dips vs. triceps dips. We all want the same goal and by working towards optimizing our gains with a host of different exercises, we can better get to the point where we are comfortable with our decision. At the end of the day, one must ask the question, is one of these better than the other?

chest dips vs. triceps dips

Chest Dips

Chest dips are a nice alternative exercise to perform when looking to sub out the bench press, incline press, or decline press. How this exercise works is your body is vertical but you are leaning forward with your elbows flared out, but don’t go too far as it can risk injury. Also, your feet should be behind your body. By doing this, you target the chest muscle.

The benefits of performing chest dips are that you have the chance to get an alternative exercise into your routine to substitute out a traditional press or some other variation. By taking away the weights, you get to use your bodyweight which will only add to your routine (1). You also build strength and size in your chest, and funny enough, your triceps as well, although the main emphasis is on your chest and developing this muscle.

chest dips vs tricep dips

Triceps Dips

Very similar to chest dips are triceps dips, although this time the emphasis is on building those triceps. A great exercise, this has many variations and can be performed on a dip machine, chair, bench, or some other stationary object that allows this movement. With proper form, you really work to target your triceps and build them up in a way other triceps exercises can’t (2). This exercise will see you more upright with your elbows tucked in, as opposed to chest dips where they are flared out. Also, your feet are below as opposed to behind your body.

The benefits you will see with triceps dips are a real increase in strength and size for your triceps muscle as it is really targeted when done correctly. It is also a versatile and convenient exercise to perform for as long as you have a machine, chair, bench, or some other stable object, you can perform them.

And because of the many variations with triceps dips, you keep things fresh. This allows you to create resistance from different angles, so your triceps are always challenged, forcing them to strengthen and grow. So whether it’s a chair in your office, or a low table at home, the variation of these dips is limited only by your imagination.

chest dips vs. triceps dips

What’s The Difference Between Chest Dips and Tricep Dips?

The difference between both chest dips and triceps dips is the positioning and execution of each exercise. Chest dips will see you a little more forward, your elbows flared out and feet behind you. Triceps dips have you positioned more upright, elbows tucked and your feet under you. This forces the emphasis to shift from chest to triceps, so while both exercises technically work both muscles, the targeted muscle is what changes.

For what you will get out of chest dips, it may be wise to just stick with other chest exercises that will work better, or even just using chest dips as a finisher exercise. Maintaining proper form and having to rely on the use of a dip machine may be a drawback considering there are other exercises that are easier to perform with less headache. On the other hand, triceps dips really target your triceps and can have a great effect on strength and size. This being a harder muscle group to work, having a solid go-to exercise to get great work done can be a game changer for all your goals.

As we try to find some resolution to the debate over chest dips vs. triceps dips, it safe to say that both will work to help you build muscle and reach your intended goals. However, triceps dips may be a better move given that they target your triceps in a unique way and allow you to build efficient muscle over what chest dips can do.

chest dips vs tricep dips

Best Supplements For Additional Growth

When we work out, having the right supplements can make or break our gains and by working to optimize nutrition and give ourselves the best when it comes to supplements, we can better see those results we want most. Three popular and worthwhile supplements to take are pre-workouts for energy, BCAAs for intra workout, and protein powders to help get enough of the muscle building macro.

Using these three supplements will allow you to hit all three phases of your workout being pre-, mid-, and post-workout. For those wanting to really increase strength and mass, consider taking creatine, mass gainers, and casein protein as these will get the job done.

Chest Dips vs. Tricep Dips Wrap Up

The debate over chest dips vs. triceps dips is an interesting one for both exercises can work for you in a big way. But at the end of the day having the right exercises are what matter most. Chest dips may be a nice alternative, but there are other exercises that will allow you to get way more out of a chest workout. On the other hand, triceps dips are a great exercise to target your triceps so you see real growth. Feel free to try both exercises, but at the end of the day, you may find the triceps dips are a better option in the dip debate.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Langton, B.; et al. (2018). “Utilizing Body Weight Training With Your Personal Training Clients”. (source)
  2. Coyne, J.; et al. (2015). “Reliability Of Pull Up & Dip Maximal Strength Tests”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.