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One Of The Most Powerful Chest Exercises For Men

by Garry Davidson

One Of The Most Powerful Chest Exercises For Men

The best chest exercises for MEN focus on growing chest muscle as quickly and efficiently as possible and at the same time, widening the chest to give you that unstoppable masculine look.

When it comes to burning chest fat and losing man boobs, while at the same time, growing muscle and sculpting an unstoppable masculine chest, this one exercise is perhaps the best I’ve ever known. It’s far better than bench presses, pushups, cable crossovers, dumbbell flys and the like.

I was first convinced about using this exercise when I learned about a guy called Vince Gironda. Now let me tell you a little about Vince. Vince was a bodybuilding legend who was known as the ‘Iron Guru’, and known for getting his clients big and ripped in record time.

For 50 years, he trained more champion physique competitors than anyone in the business. He trained some of the most famous bodybuilders, as well as some of the world’s best actors and actresses. He was also known to get great results with regular joes like you and me.

Vince was the “go-to” guy for absolutely anyone who wanted to get into shape. Now you could argue that there were and are plenty of other guys around who know a lot about training, but Vince was different.

Back in the day, Vince came up with a lot of weird and controversial ideas about exercise and nutrition, a lot of people thought he was crazy and avoided taking his advice, or even going to his gym. But what we’re finding now, is that new scientific research is showing us that Vince was right all along!

One of Vince’s most controversial ideas was that the bench press is a poor exercise for the chest. In fact, he threw out all the benches in his gym and replaced them with dipping stations. Vince believed that when it comes to developing the chest, the chest dip is a far superior exercise to the bench press, and guess what? Electromyogram (EMG) studies today, reveal that he was right!

Chest Dips

If you could do just one chest exercise to carve out a set of pecs that you see on the statue of a Greek god, the Hulk or a mythological beast, it would be chest dips. Not the bench press, not pushups, and certainly not dumbbell flys.

Chest dips work the entire upper body, and really give you that hormonal boost you need to grow muscle, tone your chest and lose those man boobs. They work your arms, your shoulders, your chest and your upper back.

Chest Exercises For Men

Chest dips are a powerful exercise for building a muscular chest. They also work your entire upper body including your back, arms and shoulders.

When it comes to both performance and sculpting your body through muscle-growth and hormonal stimulation, bodyweight exercises always come on top. This is largely because unlike weight-training, which tends to isolate one particular body-part, bodyweight exercises require you to stabilize your entire body as it moves through space.

When you use your core stabilizers and other muscles throughout your body, not only do you get a bigger hormonal boost from the workout, you also lose more fat, gain a more even distribution of muscle throughout the body, which means better posture, less injuries and a better more attractive appearance.

Since most guys rely almost completely on the bench press for building chest muscle, let’s discuss…

Why Dips Are FAR Better Than The Bench Press For Building A Hurculean Chest

Disadvantages Of The Bench Press

1. A Poor Exercise For The Chest

Now don’t get me wrong, many bodybuilders DO use the bench press to build some huge muscles. But did you ever stop to think how many people fail with the bench press? Almost every guy that goes to the gym spends time on the bench press – but how many of these guys end up getting a huge, wide, stone-slab-like chest that gets women weak at the knees?

See, the trouble with the bench press is that it is more an exercise for the front deltoids of your shoulders, than it is an exercise for the chest. EMG studies reveal that the front deltoids receive the same stimulation as the pectoralis major of the chest during the flat bench press.

The front deltoids are very small in comparison to the pectoralis major muscle of the chest.

Since the front deltoids are a very small muscle compared to the huge pectoralis major of the chest, it stands to reason that during the bench press the deltoids of your shoulders will fatigue way before your chest even starts to get a proper workout. As a result you will end your workout before fully involving your chest.

2. The Most Common Cause Of Shoulder Injuries In The Gym

Due to the rising popularity of the bench press, rotator cuff surgery is at an all time high.

The bench press places too much strain on the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulders, and very commonly leads to injury, damage and wear & tear of the rotator cuff over time.

For this reason, the bench press is widely reported as being the most common cause of shoulder injuries in the gym.

3. Kills Shoulder Flexibility, Leading To More Injuries

The bench press kills shoulder flexibility. The massive strain on your shoulders from this exercise makes your rotator cuff muscles tighter and tighter over time. The first sign of this is when you start to find it difficult to reach behind your back as if to do up a bra (not that I have ever tried one on, but you know what I mean ;) ).

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t having big muscles that makes you inflexible, but rather, incorrect training. If you have read ‘Stretching Scientifically’ by Thomas Kurz, you’ll know that big muscles actually make you MORE flexible.

4. Torn Pecs (Pectoralis Major Rupture)

Yet another common injury with the bench press. Here’s a video of a guy tearing his left pec during a set of bench presses. Warning: this video is NOT for the faint hearted.

Watch as this guy tears his left pec with the bench press… Youuch!

With this injury, the tendon that attaches your pectoralis major muscle to your upper arm bone, is torn right off the bone. It can be extremely painful and in most cases requires surgical repair. It will take many months before you are lifting anything again.

Advantages Of Dips For Developing The Chest

1. Faster And Better Development Of The Chest

When doing dips, you are moving your arms in a downward motion. This downward motion ensures that you bypass the shoulders and isolate the chest muscles far better than any other compound exercise for the chest. Although your shoulders are still involved to a large extent and get an excellent workout, they are not as engaged and overloaded as they are during the bench press.

Studies have shown that the deltoids are much less involved during the decline bench press, compared to the horizontal bench press. Since chest dips are a bodyweight variation of the decline bench press, this means that more focus is placed on the chest than on the shoulders while doing dips compared to the bench press.

Wide Chest

Chest dips give you wider chest development than the bench press.

2. Wider Chest Development

I’ve seen guys with 6-pack abs who look like scrawny wimps when they have a shirt on. The key to looking like an unstoppable alpha-male is to work on widening that upper body, namely your chest and upper back.

Chest dips performed with a wide grip and the elbows flared to the sides, target the outer chest better than pushups, bench presses, or any other exercise for that matter. In doing so, they give you that huge, wide chest that resembles a set of stone slabs set on your chest sideways.

This is yet another reason why chest dips are one of the most powerful chest exercises you can do.

3. Increased Shoulder Flexibility

At the bottom of the movement your shoulder muscles are both strengthened and stretched, giving you improved flexibility.

Do be careful however, since if you already have inflexible and/or weak shoulders, you can still suffer shoulder injuries while doing dips, especially with weighted dips. The key is to only go as low as you feel comfortable. Over time, your shoulders will get stronger and you’ll be able to descend write the way down, thereby fully stretching those pecs.

4. Dips Are Functional – They Give You Strength That You Can Use

Dips require you to lift and move your entire body through space. You need to keep your body tight so you maintain your posture, and as a result you not only involve your chest, upper back, shoulders and arms, but also your legs, abdomen and lower back. It is a true whole-body workout that trains your body to function as a unit as opposed to targeting individual sections of the body.

By working your entire body in this way, dips will help you to lose weight, look better and build strength all round. They will help make you a better athlete, better able to handle yourself in a fight, better able to manage your body weight, and even help you bench more.

5. Hormonal Stimulation – Better For Weight Loss And Man Boob Reduction

Because dips engage your entire body, they result in a greater release of testosterone and growth hormone both during and after the workout. Increased levels of these hormones help to reduce man boobs, burn fat and pack on extra muscle.

How To Do Chest Dips

Dips can be modified to focus on the triceps, upper back or chest. Here I will tell you how to do chest dips.

Place your hands on two parallel bars on either side of you. If you don’t have access to parallel bars, you can also use two tables, or the top of the back-rests of two chairs facing away from each other. If you are using the chair option, it helps to wear a set of garden gloves to take the pressure off your hands.

1. Prop yourself up with your arms straight and your elbows locked out.
2. Bend your knees so your feet are behind you. This helps to balance your weight as you lean forward. Leaning forward is necessary to target the chest.

Chest Dips Upper

3. Bending at the elbows, lower your body in a slow and controlled fashion, without ever touching your feet or knees to the ground. Breath in while doing this.
4. Stop when your shoulders are level with your elbows, then while breathing out, slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.
5. Repeat steps 3-4, always making sure to maintain good posture and a forward-leaning position.

Chest Dips Lower

In case that ain’t clear enough, check out the following video:

Incorporating Dips Into Your Training

Changing The Resistance

The only real problem with bodyweight exercises is unlike with weights it isn’t easy to change the level of resistance. But not being easy doesn’t mean it’s impossible. All you need is a little creativity and you can change the resistance all you like.

If you’re not accustomed to training, or you are a little on the heavy side, you may find it difficult to perform even one repetition of dips. If this is the case with you, then all is not lost since there are many things you can do to work around the problem. This includes getting someone to help you, letting your feet touch the ground and aiding the lift with your legs, doing static holds at the top position or doing partial reps and negative reps to condition yourself until you are strong enough to do full reps.

If you find dips to be too easy, you can do weighted dips by wearing a backpack and throwing some weight plates into it, or using a weight belt with weights hanging off it, holding a weight plate between your knees, or getting your buddy to jump on your back.

Combining Dips With Other Exercises

If you just did dips and nothing else, your chest and upper body would look phenomenal. You will however get better results if you combine dips with other exercises that target different portions of your chest – like incline and decline pushups and, in the gym, cable crossovers and the pec dec.

If you are working on your chest, it’s also important to work on your upper back for good posture, symmetry and that wider look.

In order to get that truly wide, masculine and unstoppable upper body physique, it’s important also to do upper back exercises like bent-over rows, pullups and lat pulldowns.

If you only worked out your chest, your shoulders would be pulled forward in a hunched position. If on the other hand you work out your chest and upper back equally, your shoulders will be in a neutral position in the middle and to the sides, giving you a wider appearance.

It is also important to throw some whole-body training and leg training into the mix, to help get rid of those overlying layers of fat.

Dips may be a good exercise for building muscle and burning fat, but it is well known that nothing gets rid of excess fat than whole-body training and a good diet.

I go into detail about all the intricacies of perfect chest development in the Chest Sculpting Blueprint.

FAQ: “Won’t Dips Make Your Man Boobs Stick Out?”

I’m yet to see this happen. It is theoretically possible that in a minority of guys, dips will stimulate more of the lower chest than the upper chest. However, EMG studies have shown that, surprisingly enough, the decline bench press stimulates the upper portion of the pectoralis major muscle, better than it does the lower.

I’m willing to bet that dips (again, dips being like an extreme decline bench press) stimulate the upper chest just as well as the lower, since all of my clients who only do dips, end up getting perfectly even chest development.

But hey, EMG studies also show that the incline bench press does isolate the upper chest more, so if you are for whatever reason, afraid that your lower chest will get bigger and your man boobs will stick out if you do dips, then you can always do both dips and incline presses to even things out. Better yet, you can get a copy of the Chest Sculpting Blueprint and I’ll show you step by step what to do to get that perfect chest, without having to worry about man boobs or too much lower chest development.


Dips are a powerful exercise that target the entire upper body. They are arguably the fastest way to build a wide muscular chest, while at the same time making you stronger, increasing your core strength, and helping you to lose chest fat.

Not only are dips more effective than the bench press at working out the muscles of the chest, they are also safer, work out more muscle groups (effectively the whole upper body) and – by targeting the outer pecs – give your upper body a much wider and more powerful appearance. For these reasons it is easily one of the most powerful chest exercises for men.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried doing dips? What was your experience? Are you having any difficulties performing dips? What else would you like to learn about? Please share your comments, questions and experiences in the comments box below. Just type what’s on your mind and hit the reply button ;)

Where Can You Learn More?

Dips combined with a good upper back exercise like chins or pullups can be all a guy needs to build a powerful upper body. But sometimes, you can’t help but wonder, “What are some other exercises that can help develop your chest better than just the usual bench press and pushups?”

Aside from dips, what other non-conventional exercises can help you develop a powerful chest that makes you look and feel like a living tank

Discover these secrets and more, in the following article on Chest Sculpting:

{ 174 comments… read them below or add one }

Amrit December 12, 2014 at 9:33 am

I only have a pair of Dumbbells , so what to do next with it to reduce my man boobs


Garry Davidson December 14, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hi Amrit

You can do a lot with dumbbells alone. You can do weighted squats, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell rows, etc. The advantage of dumbbells over barbells, is that dumbbells allow you to make more use of stabilizer muscles, and they often allow for a greater range of motions in exercises like the bench press and bent over rows.

The problem with dumbbells, is since you rely more on stabilizer muscles, you won’t be able to lift as heavy a weight as you can with a barbell, so your main muscle groups won’t get worked as much.

I would suggest you combine dumbbells with some body weight work, like pushups, pullups, and dips.

To get a more comprehensive outline of how to lift weights for a ripped and muscular physique, pick up a copy of the Chest Sculpting Blueprint.


Ali December 18, 2014 at 12:08 am

Hi Garry,
Very interesting article, thanks.
Nevertheless, I have a practical question : are the bench dips efficient too ?
Thanks for your help and excuse my basic english :)


Garry Davidson December 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

Bench dips are not nearly as effective at working the chest. Bench dips put more focus on the triceps, and also reduce the load significantly due to the fact that your feet are resting on the floor or on a raised platform. A good exercise to do if you can’t do full body weight chest dips, but do try and transition to chest dips as soon as you are able.


Ash December 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

I hate lifting weights. Firstly, they strain the joints too much and do not give functional strength. Free weights are more for aesthetics. I believe in doing bodyweight and bodyweight+ (BW with weight vest/belt) and from my experience, only 4 exercises are truly needed to build a strong, muscular body.

1) Pushups (and its variations): Varying from wide to close hand pushups, to diamond pushups, to handstand pushups and finally to one-armed standard and hand-stand pushups, and with added weight from vest or plates.

2) Bar Dips (and its variations): From tricep-focused to chest-focused dips, to one-armed dips, and with added weight from vest or belt.

3) Pullups (and its variations): From standard pullups to chin-ups to neutral grip pullups, and finally to one-armed versions of all 3 types, with added weight.

4) Bodyweight Squat (and its variations): After mastering bodyweight pistol squats, go to dumbbell squat. This is the only time I use weights, however, the weight is in the form of a dumbbell held between the hands. Progress to pistol squat with dumbbell held.

Just these 4 bodyweight exercises can build a powerful body with functional strength and a good physique. There is no need to go to the gym and lift free or machine weights.

Pushups will work the chest, triceps, shoulders and strengthen the core.
Dips will work the chest, triceps, shoulders, strengthen the core and also minor upper back and lats work.
Pullups will work the upper back, biceps, shoulders.
Squats will work the core, entire lower body.


Garry Davidson December 31, 2014 at 11:58 am

Hi Ash

I’m making the switch-over to bodyweight exercise myself. I’d much rather have a good physique combined with functional strength that I can use in real life. I agree with your exercise recommendations, though one thing I would add in there is handstand pushups for the shoulders.


Andy January 7, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Dear Garry, great website, especially dips recommedation.

But I have a doubt reg. dips … With weights (backback) I can do roundabout 25-27 reps in 4 sets. Without weights obviously I can do more. My question is, is it better to continue doing with weights even though I am doing less reps? Common sense says this is better than simply adding more reps without weights.

Would the same logic apply to regular pushups as well? Since I am able to do more regular pushups, I am using backback so I can do only 20 or 25 reps per 4 sets. Point is, whether dips or pushups I am adding weights to my backback in order to do only around 5-8 reps per set…. is my logic correct? Since I can’t currently train at the gym, I am trying to apply weight training principle to bodyweight exercises at home. Please advise.

Thanks again, Garry.


Garry Davidson January 7, 2015 at 7:58 pm

Hi Andy

Your logic is totally correct! I always advise to eventually start adding weights to a backpack with bodyweight exercises, especially when you are able to do more than 3 sets of 10 reps with your boy weight alone.



Andy January 9, 2015 at 3:05 am

Dear Garry, thanks for confirming. Two doubts, if you don’t mind. When I follow your method – more weight, less reps – I don’t feel the pump…. but without backpack/more reps, I feel the pump. Is this normal?

Second …. consider pushups. Some ppl advise me to do difficult variation of pushups rather than adding backpack since both methods will yield less reps. What do you think, Garry? Increasing difficulty versus adding weight …


Garry Davidson January 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

Hi Andy

The pump is not necessary for muscle growth. There is enough proof for this if you look for it online. Don’t go TOO heavy though, remember that muscle growth happens best in the 6-12 repetition range, with multiple sets (ideally 3-4).

It depends on what type of difficult variation. I generally prefer adding weight via backpack, because difficult variations usually involve changing the angle of the movement, and the muscle areas/groups involved. Hindu pushups for example, might be tougher than regular pushups, but they work your arms and shoulders more than your chest. Pushups with your feet elevated are tougher, but they hit your upper pecs, rather than your entire pecs like flat pushups do. Single handed pushups are tougher, but they target the outer pecs a lot more, and neglect the inner pecs. Diamond pushups are tougher, but they focus on the inner pecs, and neglect the outer pecs. You might do pushups with pushup bars to increase the range of motion – there’s a tougher variation with no drawbacks.

Hope this answers your questions.


Andy January 9, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Dear Garry, thanks for the information. It is very useful. You mentioned your experiences in India where gym goers there had a great physique without cardio…. how is that possible? Everyone says without cardio no fat can be shed (even with clean diet), and that weights are only for adding muscle and NOT for losing fat.


Garry Davidson January 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Diet is the single most important factor when it comes to reducing body fat. Cardio is better than weight training at reducing body fat, but only at first, because where cardio leads to diminishing returns (due to loss of muscle mass, reduced metabolism, and adaptation), weight training leads to the opposite – an improvement in fat burning ability over time. This is because as you become more trained with weight-training, your body’s ability to boost testosterone levels increases.


Andy January 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Dear Garry, some ppl say that if we diet, then the body will cling to fat even more desperately. Is there any truth in this?


Garry Davidson January 18, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Hi Andy, thanks for the question.

It depends on how you diet. If you go on a low fat diet, then the body will cling onto what fat it can, and make your life difficult when you want to reduce body fat. If on the other hand, you go on a low carb diet like I recommend, you train your body to get better at burning fat, so it gets easier and easier to lose more fat over time.


Alex January 9, 2015 at 4:04 pm

hello Garry!
I’m training my chest with push ups since 1 year ago, and i have already gained 15kg! (most is muscle, because i got low body fat)

And my question is: are chest dips better than push ups for muscle gains?


Garry Davidson January 9, 2015 at 6:30 pm

It depends on what you want Alex. A chest built with pushups will give you a different appearance from a chest built with dips. This is because each exercise works the chest form a completely different angle.

If you experience good muscle gains with pushups, and you like the look, then stick to pushups. Generally though, I find that people experience better muscle gains using dips. If you have been successful with pushups, I would advise you give dips a try, and see if you like the new look this exercise gives your chest. You may like it, you may not. Give it a go and see how you like it.


Alex January 9, 2015 at 6:05 pm

Also one more question Garry:

that is my chest program routine:

3-4 sets of:

15 normal push ups

15 spartan push ups

15 inner/normal/outer push ups

15 clap push ups

5 slow motion push ups (10 sec each)

10 chinese push ups

please let me know if i’m doing something wrong and how to fix my routine

thanks a lot!:D


Garry Davidson January 9, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Looks like a real challenge!

Do what works for you Alex. I personally like to keep it simple, especially for my beginner and intermediate trainees – one style of pushups, later using a weighted backpack to increase resistance. Later, as an advanced trainee, you can change it up to attack your chest from different angles. I would be careful about overtraining though, but as long as your muscles are responding, then keep doing what you’re doing.


Oscar January 27, 2015 at 2:32 am

Hi Garry, this is a great idea, adding dips. Just a question on volume.

How many sets or reps per week is enough to stimulate the upper body or chest? Not dips specifically but exercise in general, how many sets for chest would be optimal? I can only work out twice a week, so I am wondering how many to include.

If I can only do one exercise for upper body, can I do dips alone twice a week? If so, how many sets?


Garry Davidson January 27, 2015 at 11:23 am

Hi Oscar, thanks for the question.

This varies on the individual, and I recommend you do some trial and error to find what works best for you. But a good guideline to go by is to do 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise, 3 non-consecutive days a week. Dips alone would be great, but you would do better if you also included a good upper back exercise and a shoulder exercise.

You can get more information on how to train for a fantastic upper body here.


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