Could This Chest Exercise Be Even Better Than The Bench?

chest workout

Build up your chest with this awesome exercise and avoid the bench press.

When it comes to crafting a complete physique, the pectorals are some of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The pectoral muscles help to fill out your shirts, and give you an overall complete look. When it comes to building that area up, chest exercises can get fairly repetitive and really not do that much for growth, as some chest exercises place a large emphasis on secondary muscles (such as triceps and shoulders) aside from the pectorals.

When most bodybuilders look to improve their chest development they tend to focus on a handful of exercises that have been popularized over the years. It has long been thought that the bench press and dumbbell flyes are two of the best exercises you can perform to build a massive and strong chest. At least that’s the school of thought from most trainers and experienced bodybuilders.

That’s not to say that bench press and dumbbell flyes are not going to be improving your overall chest development, but as the old saying goes there’s more than one, in this case two, ways to skin a cat (it’s just a saying). One chest exercise that could potentially prove to be a better option for muscle mass and strength than the bench and flyes are none other than dips.

In this post, we will detail how building your chest with this exercise can be better than the bench press.

Dips Overview

Dips have been at times cited as a potentially damaging exercise for the shoulders by some uninformed fitness gurus, stating that they are just a recipe for injury, but the reality is that it can greatly improve chest development, in terms of both muscle mass and strength. We’d go as far to say that it may even be better than if not or equal to the bench press and flyes in its importance and usefulness to chiseling the chest.

Bodybuilders all the way back to the Golden Era have utilized dips to help with the chest development. They also would angle themselves to do dips for triceps, but we are focused on chest. 7x Mr. Olympia champion, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is a big advocate of dips for the chest. He stated that they were a staple in his workout routine, to help develop the lower pectoral. However, as stated above, dips for the chest are great for overall chest development and we are going to dissect exactly why.

If you have any doubts, then just take a look at the reasons why you should substitute the bench every now and then.

Dips are a Faster Option

Dips are great for the chest for a number of reasons, one of them being that the exercise isolates the chest muscles. The motion for performing the dip requires the user to push in a downward motion with the arms while lifting your body up. There is also a great range of motion that allows for a deep stretch in the pectorals. The shoulders are also engaged in this motion but are under far less stress with dips than they are with the barbell bench press.

Since chest dips are a bodyweight exercise, they also require more tension and strength from the chest muscles in order to perform the movement All this combines to making quicker chest gains, in terms of both size and strength.

Dips Build Functional Strength Along With Your Chest

straight bar dips

Take a look at calisthenics athletes, they do mostly bodyweight exercises and it might seem ridiculous, but they have great amounts of muscle, and are freakishly strong, that is because of functional strength. Functional strength focuses on building strength in areas that you will use in every day life. Like we mentioned before, the chest dip is a bodyweight exercise, it is also largely used by calisthenics athletes. The isolation that the chest dips bring, works great for building muscle specifically in the chest. Besides that however is the fact that you must lift your own body through space which will ultimately translate to core strength. Posture is also important with this exercise.

You body must remain static, your legs must be held in the same position, preferably bent at the knee and crossed. This kind of posture ultimately engages the chest, abs, shoulders, and back, meaning you can get major gains in multiple areas. The body working in concert with other muscles means gaining functional strength for other endeavors, lifting or otherwise.

Dips Widen the Chest

Bodybuilder chest

Another great benefit from doing chest dips is the development in chest width, another reason that Arnold Schwarzenegger loved the movement. What separates dips from the bench press and dumbbell flyes is that you’re able to not only work the chest, but work the rest of your upper body as well. As we just mentioned before the dip can engage not only the chest, but the back as well. That includes the upper back as well.

The dip can build the lats up nicely which is the antagonistic muscle to the chest. When you work the antagonistic muscle it allows for better development of the opposite muscle, in this case the chest. All in all, the chest dip is a multifaceted exercise that can work wonders for your entire upper body. We strongly recommend an all in one strength machine trainer that can combine a smith machine, power rack, dip station and core trainer to build upper body strength.

Wrap Up

Overall, training the chest is something that requires more than just the bench press and flyes. While they are both great movements for developing the pectoral areas, there is no harm in switching it up to something else. Dips for the chest are a great bodyweight exercise to really force your chest to grow and gain more strength. Though it is said that dips can be detrimental to your shoulder health, as long as you are focusing on form and making sure you get a good contraction out of it, the benefits are great.

Do you perform chest dips in the gym? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.