October 09, 2021 9 min read
Bodyweight exercises are an extremely handy tool as they build functional strength. Many of these workouts are so effective because they’re compound exercises and work multiple different muscle groups. Take push-ups and dips, for example.
They’re both excellent for building a balanced upper-body physique and strength training. However, that then begs the question: Which of these is the overall better exercise? In this article, we’ll answer just that question, while also teaching about both of these exercises and how they can benefit you.
Before you learn how to do these exercises, it’s important to know which muscle groups are targeted by them. This way, you’ll know whether or not you should include them in your routine to reach your goals. Luckily, this is pretty straightforward.
Dips and push-ups actually target the same muscle groups: chest, shoulders, anterior deltoids, and triceps.
With that being said, you’re probably wondering what the difference between these two exercises is, especially since they seem to engage the same muscle groups. Well, there are a few catches that we’ll go over in just a second.
At first glance, these two exercises seem like they could easily be swapped out for one another. They’re both convenient as they only require your body to do, they’re compound movements and hit most of your upper body, and they’re both straightforward. However, they actually have some big differences that can affect which one you should pick for training.
The angle of your body is the biggest difference between the two of these exercises. But why is this such a dividing factor between the two? It’s because the different motions will actually hit different parts of your chest. For those of you who are unaware, your chest is made up of two main areas: The pectoralis minor (the upper chest) and the pectoralis major (the lower chest).
By changing the angle of your body, you’ll work on developing a different part of your body.
The push-up is really more of an upper chest, if not an entire chest exercise. The dip, on the other hand, is really great at isolating the lower chest muscles. This is because a push-up utilizes a horizontal pressing motion, whereas the dip uses a vertical pressing motion.
Another difference between these two exercises is the range of motion involved with them. With dips, you’ll actually have a larger range of motion, as your shoulders are able to go below your hands during the exercise. With a normal push-up, this is impossible as the floor stops your shoulders from going beneath your hands. There are variations that you can do if you’d like your push-ups to have a greater range of motion, but we’ll get to that later.
This is actually quite a big difference between these two exercises and explains why dips are generally more difficult to do than a push-up. A dip requires you to lift your entire body weight during the exercise. Meanwhile, a push-up only requires you to lift about 60% of your total body weight. This can make a big difference when choosing which one to do as some lifters may need assistance for doing dips.
Knowing more about these exercises, is there a clear winner? The answer is, unfortunately, no. Both push-ups and dips are extremely useful exercises that are effective upper-body bodyweight workouts. That being said, each of them can cater to your training needs.
For instance, chest dips, as we mentioned, are great for working your lower pecs. Additionally, they’re excellent for lifters who are looking to maximize strength gains as it requires you to lift your entire body. That being said, dips are somewhat notorious for causing shoulder pain due to poor form or if you dip too low in the exercise. Additionally, the exercise can be difficult to attempt without dip bars.
Push-ups, on the other hand, are a lot easier to do than dips.
They’re great for building endurance because you can do more reps and are just a good exercise to do for general fitness. Additionally, you don’t need bars to perform them. You can actually do a lot of different variations of this exercise as well, making it very versatile.
To quickly summarize, dips are best for lifters who are looking to maximize strength gains and build a nice lower chest. Push-ups are something for lifters who want to test their endurance and improve their overall fitness. However, there are other variations of the push-up that can isolate different parts of your body for a potentially more effective workout.
Now that you know all about dips and push-ups, it’s time that you learned how to properly do them. As with any exercise, form is extremely important. This is doubly true with dips as the exercise is somewhat notorious for shoulder injuries.
Because this exercise is quite difficult to do, here are some tips to help you perfect your form and make sure you get the most out of them.
While the push-up is not as difficult as the dip, it’s still important to practice proper form when doing this exercise. Without proper form, your run the risk of injuring yourself and you won’t work your muscles properly!
Because it’s a bodyweight exercise, the dip has some other variations that you can try out that will emphasize other muscle groups and give you a more rounded upper body workout.
As we previously mentioned, the push-up is an extremely versatile calisthenic exercise that can be modified to fit a variety of needs.
Here are a few to help spice up your workouts:
When it comes down to push-ups and dips, neither exercise is better than the other. They each have their own place in a lifter’s exercise routine and are convenient as they don't need any equipment like barbells or dumbbells. Push-ups are great for beginners who are looking to build up some strength or endurance.
Meanwhile, dips are great for building strength because of how difficult and demanding they are. Choose whichever pressing movement and variation are good for your workout routine.