Chest Dips – The Most Powerful Chest Exercise?

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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 testosterone 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

  1. 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.
  2. Stop when your shoulders are level with your elbows, then while breathing out, slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.
  3. 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.

“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.

How To Use Dips To Get Rid Of Man Boobs

Dips can help you build a powerful chest, but when it comes to losing man boobs, dips are just one piece of the puzzle.

Man boobs are caused by a hormonal imbalance–too much of the female hormone estrogen and too little of the male hormone testosterone. Though dips help do boost testosterone levels, you’ll see far better results if you combine dips with other powerful exercises as part of a whole body training system.

The following link will take you to a free video where I reveal some unusual methods you can use to get rid of your man boobs:

Click Here To Watch A Free Video On How To Lose Man Boobs Naturally


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330 thoughts on “Chest Dips – The Most Powerful Chest Exercise?

  1. Awesome article! I started today a new upper body routine and included dips for the first time in my short lifting life. I do have a question though, do one ditch the bench press completely, or is there still room for it, depending on the frequency or intensity? Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Edgar

      You don’t have to ditch the bench press.

      Ideally for the chest and back, you should do one horizontal exercise and one vertical exercise.

      Dips are a vertical exercise for the chest and the bench press is a horizontal exercise.

      For the back, pull-ups and chin-ups are vertical exercises, while bent over barbell rows are a horizontal exercise.

      If you had to choose one from the other because of time constraints, I would choose a vertical exercise. In my experience, vertical exercises hit the muscle harder and end up with greater muscle development.

  2. Heavy weight, low volume for chest dips or any chest workout (cuz it’s fast twitch)

    High volume for pullups or any back workout (cuz back is slow twitch).

    Correct me if i am wrong. What works for chest (low volume), the exact opposite high volume works for back. right?

  3. Garry,

    What is the ideal number of reps to develop both size and tone? At this point I am doing a very good strict dip for 25 reps, I want to know what is a good target reps to start adding additional weight to have the best of both size and tone please.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Walter

      For size, I recommend sticking to 3 sets of 10 reps.

      With tone, it depends on what you mean by the word. Most people’s perception of tone is when you have decent muscle size with low body fat count, so you can see the shape of the muscle beneath the skin. For this, you would stick to the best set/rep range for growth (i.e. 3 sets of 10 reps), and work on body fat reduction via diet, high intensity interval training, and whole body weight training.

      The other perception of tone is neurogenic tone, where your muscles are partially contracted at rest. You get neurogenic tone when you do strength training, so 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

      If you want size and both types of tone, I suggest training for size first with 3 sets of 10 reps, while cutting down on body fat with the methods mentioned above. Once you’ve got a great body with big muscles and low body fat count, THEN focus on building neurogenic tone through strength training in the 3 to 5 rep range.

      For the first part, where you increase muscle size, you can follow the training system in the Chest Sculpting Blueprint, which you can learn more about here:

      https://chestsculpting.com/how-to-lose-chest-fat

      For the second part, where you do strength training to increase neurogenic tone, I suggest you check out the Advanced Chest Sculpting Series here:

      https://chestsculpting.com/how-to-shape-your-chest-flat/

  4. A couple of questions, if that’s alright.

    1) I’ve been following your advice, and now I am able to put plates in my backpack and do it. But since the backpack is in my back (obviously), the weight probably makes me upright and doesn’t allow me to lean forward. Is this normal, can we continue moving in an upright position with weights? Without weights in the back, it is possible to lean forward. With weights in the back, it sort of makes you upright.

    2) What’s the muscle right under the armpit (side of chest)? Is it a portion of the lats? I thought lats were in the back and couldn’t be seen (in the mirror I can see this portion and I don’t mean outer chest or seratus)

    • Hey Ahmed

      I personally find I can still lean forward with a backpack full of weights. If you can’t lean forward so much, it’s no big deal, the exercise still hits your chest really well when you’re vertical.

      In the armpit, from front to back, you’ve got: pec major and anterior deltoid, biceps, coracobrachialis, teres major and lats, and long head of triceps.

      If your lats are big enough, you can see them from the front. I’ll let Bruce Lee show you:

      • Jesus, r those lats for real? Is it really possible to have Bruce Lee Lats through pull ups alone? Seems like lats r a lot cooler than even pecs ( can’t believe am saying this)

          • Awesome article, Garry, it makes perfect sense although unfortunately we focus too much on mirror muscles and develop imbalance.

            Garry, if I may suggest, can u please write an article on pullups someday? The same way you’ve explained dips in such amazing detail … I feel pullups training is perhaps even more important bcuz not many can do it easily.

            So it would be great if you can explain in detail like dips. We’d really appreciate it.

  5. I am a flat-chested skinny guy, I have been working out for 6 months and got minimal results. I do inclined/flat barbell and dumbell presses only. I want to have those bigger chest.

    • Hi Oscar

      You can use heavy partial reps to help you break past plateaus. You can even use them to build some decent muscle bulk. But the only way to FULLY develop your chest is by doing the exercise through a full range of motion.

      • You’re right, Garry, the temptation to use heavy weights doesnt really go away.

        ALso I notice I need more and more recovery time as I improve on any exercise (not only dips but any exercise whatsoever).

        Is this normal?

        • Hi Oscar

          This is perfectly normal. As you get better at doing an exercise, you get better at putting stress on your body–both on your central nervous system (causing central fatigue) and on your peripheral systems (peripheral nerves, muscles, and vascular system).

          Here’s my poor attempt at an analogy. Say you’ve got a thin plank of wood that’s 1 inch thick, and you’ve got a thick plank of wood that’s 10 inches thick. Both get broken in half and you have to repair them. Which plank of wood would take more glue and more time to repair? The thick 10 inch plank of wood, right?

          In the same way, when your muscles are small, you’ve got a smaller mass of muscle you’re damaging with exercise. When your muscles are big, more damage is being done–simply because there’s more muscle, more volume of stuff to repair. Not only does it take more time to repair that bigger muscle bulk, it also takes more resources–more “glue” from our plank of wood analogy.

          When you’ve got multiple large well-trained muscles and you work them in the same workout, the “glue factory” that supplies the resources for repair (i.e. your central nervous system) can get overloaded too, leading to central fatigue.

          As a beginner, you only have to worry about short periods of peripheral fatigue. Hence most beginners can get away with training daily.

          As an intermediate and advanced trainee, not only do you have to worry about longer periods of peripheral fatigue, but you also have to worry about central fatigue.

          • Very good point, Garry, I wish someone had explained all this earlier. I wasted a lot of time before, not knowing this.

            For example, my back is weak and my chins aren’t that good. My chest is strong and my weighted dips are good. Now that I think about it, I should have increased pullup frequency to get good at it (just like I did the opposite for dips). Instead I allowed the same recovery time as dips and couldn’t progress much.

            Hope that makes sense. Now I have uneven development, chest/triceps looks excellent but my back and biceps are playing catch up.

          • Hey Oscar.

            A common piece of advice in success circles is “focus on your strengths, not on your weaknesses”.

            But when it comes to building your best physique, you have to focus more on your weaknesses.

            If you start focusing now on your pulling performance (pull ups, chin ups, rows, etc), and bring your pulling performance up to the level of your pushing performance, you’ll find that you can perform even better in your pushing exercises.

            This is because to prevent serious imbalance and injury, your body will prevent progress in your pushing performance if your pulling performance is far behind.

            Hope that makes sense.

  6. Going below parallel works the delts more than chest, whereas staying at parallel (or even slightly above) puts more emphasis on chest.

    Has this your experience as well?

    • Hey Gordon, depends on which area of the chest you’re talking about. Going below parallel is the only way to fully activate that triangular portion of your pecs that attaches to your shoulder, to make your chest look wider.

    • Hey Mike, it depends on the kind of volume you are doing and on how well-trained you are. The less trained you are, the less you will be able to tax your central nervous system, so you can train more frequently.

      If you are a beginner and you can only do partial reps for example, then you can train daily, or even as frequently as twice a day.

      When you are more advanced and you’re doing, say, 3 sets of 10 full reps, or 5 sets of 5 full reps, and if you’re using added weight, then I suggest cutting back to doing dips every other day or 3 non-consecutive days a week.

  7. Is it true that for lats (because it is slow twitch), high frequency pullup would be better? But for chest (which is fast twitch), low frequency dips is right? So basically the opposite method for chest and lats?

    • Hi Oscar.

      Change the word “frequency” to “rep” and my answer will be a resounding “yes” :).

      High rep pullups are better for the back, and low rep heavy dips are better for the chest.

      • Hello Garry, thanks. At this stage I can only do 5 pullups in a row. Do I just do many, many sets every day hoping the high volume will lead to hypertrophy? Any tips? Your dips techniques work very well, I am adding weights and doing low reps. But pullups are confusing. I just keep doing 4 or 5 reps and that’s it, I can’t do more in a set. This thing continues week after week with no progress.

        • Hey Oscar

          I know exactly what you mean. I was stuck doing 3 sets of 5 reps on pullups for a LONG time. Eventually I realized that if I kept just trying as hard as I could every time, I’d never do any more than 3 sets of 5.

          So I decided to look into periodization, and here’s what ended up working in the end.

          I used a weight belt to add a small weight and did 3 sets of 3 pullups using an added 2.5 lb. This is easier than doing 3 sets of 5 reps with your bodyweight, but it doesn’t matter. Since your muscles in this exercise are so underdeveloped, you can get away by doing it as often as twice a day, every day. Once a day every day is enough, but twice a day is better, every other day is not enough.

          I did this for a week, then I added another 2.5 lb and did 3 sets of 3 pullups with 5 lb. I did that for a week, and then added another 2.5 lb, and again and again until I was doing 3 sets of 3 with 15 lb.

          Then I tried doing bodyweight pullups and they were EASY! I still couldn’t do 3 sets of 10 reps (the gold standard for muscle hypertrophy), but I was well on the way. I carried on adding more weight and doing more reps, until I could do 3 sets of 10 bodyweight pullups.

          So when you get stuck, change it up. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

          • Hi Garry, thanks so much for the insights. I am going to give this a try, seems to be the only logical course of action.

            Just curious, did u notice any hypertrophy by the time u reached 15 lb? I am sure you were a lot stronger at 15 lb than u were when u started out at 2.5 lb. Did this difference in strength translate to some muscle gain as well?

          • I noticed very slight muscle gains, not much, and I didn’t expect it either, since 3 sets of 3 reps is very much training in the realm of neuromuscular conditioning and myofibrillar hypertrophy, where you develop neurogenic tone and muscle density rather than an increase in muscle size as you do with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy at higher rep ranges.

            The real gains in size happened when I started doing higher reps.

  8. Hi Garry, I have a very interesting question for u based on my experience.

    I tried a variation called atlas pushups or pushups between two chairs (while keeping feet on bed). You get a nice stretch because unlike the floor the chairs give you room to go further down. To my surprise, my lats were the sorest part (not chest or triceps or any part).

    I find this surprising because pushups, like dips, is a pushing exercise, yet my lats were sore from doing pushups between chairs. Is it because of the stretch we get at the bottom? Have u tried these, or have some insights into this? The reason I am asking is, I could include this in my lat workout along with chins and keep dips for chest/pushing day.

    Please Let me what you think.

    • Interesting… I’ve experienced the same via pushups, namely while on vacations as there is usually not an adequate gym to use. I was very surprised at the amount of Lat soreness the following day(s). I’m now thinking what was actually sore was not necessarily my Lats but my Serratus Anterior (this was after lengthy research.) I’m not sure, however am thinking this was the case… Could be the case with you as well.

      • This was years ago. I no longer experience this soreness as I’ve incorporated lots of bodyweight exercises into my routine. At this point, I’m almost solely using a variety of bodyweight exercises (dips, pullups, pushups) in lieu of freeweights & machines. For legs, I continue to use weights & machines. Plus, I lunge steps (2 at a time) at every opportunity. Escalators included when there’s no alternative.

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