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Decline Bench Press vs Dips: Which is Better for Chest?
The battle of decline bench press vs dips is on, but, who will be the victor?
If you’ve ever wondered how to target your chest better to build up those pecs, you’ve probably pondered this war.
The war between chest exercises and their potential to make you look massive and be strong!
Well, decline bench press vs dips is a strong battle, indeed.
I think optimizing these exercises will make it even more interesting.
For example, using a weighted dip belt and decline bench press with resistance bands.
Trust me, I, too, have studied and researched how to bulk up my chest.
Everyone wants to suffer from swoliosis, that’s a known fact.
But, how do we contract this beautiful disease?
Before we go into depth between these two exercises, we must first understand their benefits and variations.
Let’s delve deeper into the movements of chest dips and decline bench press to decide on a true winner.
When we can understand which is actually better, then we will know which will get us the most swole!
Building a Big Chest: Decline Bench Press vs Dips
What is Bench Press?
The bench press is simply doing chest press while on a bench.
Fairly simple movement, classic, effective, and loved by almost all.
It is primarily done with an Olympic barbell, but can also be done with dumbbells.
Less common would be bench press with kettlebells or other styles of handheld weights.
Your traditional, flat bench press is a great way for beginners to learn to build their chest.
Essentially every gym has a bench press setup (if not with a barbell, there are usually benches for dumbbell press).
This is one of the reasons it is so accessible — it can be done at every gym — but also because building your chest is everyone’s favorite.
What is Decline Bench Press?
On the other hand, decline bench press is when the bench is positioned at a decline.
So, you’re head is angled down and much lower than the barbell.
What this results in is your arms completely extended at the start of the pressing movement.
Then, when you lower the barbell to your chest, it’ll naturally land near the bottom of your pecs.
The movement follows the same rules as the traditional flat bench, but just with an adjustment to the bench.
Likewise, you have various grades of decline or incline.
Similarly, you can also perform decline bench with dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. if you don’t have a bench stand for your barbell.
Related: Benefits of the Decline Bench Press
What are Dips?
Now dips are a movement that, like the bench press, can hit different areas of muscle with different angles.
When done on a bench, at ground level, you can do tricep dips.
But, what we are here for are chest dips.
Using a dip stand will allow you to angle yourself forward and hit the chest muscles.
Basically, you lower yourself on two handles down to your chest, then push back up to your starting position.
Dips are no joke!
Even with just your bodyweight, chest dips can truly be a challenging exercise.
What are Weighted Chest Dips?
Now, weighted chest dips are a whole different animal.
The same rules apply as doing bodyweight chest dips, but now you are adding more weight.
This can be done by holding a dumbbell between your feet or using something like a dip belt.
At Dark Iron Fitness, we have innovated one of the best weighted dip belts on the market.
Using a dip belt while doing chest dips can be extremely challenging.
But, the additional weight will give you some amazing results.
Sure, it’ll take some getting used to and it may be hard to reach progression, but it’s worth it.
The Pros and Cons of Decline Bench Press
Easier to Lift Heavier
When doing decline bench press, you may notice it’s much easier to get the weight up.
The position may be awkward for some and give you a rush of blood to your head.
However, the actual amount of volume you can press will be outstanding.
In comparison to incline bench press, you’ll be doing way better numbers on decline.
For me, I can lift the most on decline, then flat, and lastly incline.
This may vary from person to person, especially depending on how you train.
Give it a shot, and see if you can break your flat bench PR by doing it on decline bench.
You may amaze yourself with how natural the movement actually feels.
Targets Lower Chest Well
Decline no doubt targets your lower chest like no other.
And you will feel it!
Sometimes, on flat bench and incline, you won’t feel the chest as targeted as you’d expect.
But, the position decline puts you in, makes you really feel the force your chest uses to press the weight up.
If you’ve ever wondered how to hit your lower chest to round out your pecs, try decline.
Not Very Versatile
One problem I have with decline bench press is that it somewhat lacks versatility.
The movement cannot be done unweighted with good results.
Sure, you can lift just the barbell to warm up and practice form, but it’s overall useless.
Obviously, you can perform decline bench with different types of weights, but the movement itself doesn’t have many variations.
Hand placement is basically all you can adjust, as your feet will normally be locked into the holders to keep you from sliding.
Doesn’t Target the Majority of the Chest
As I suggested earlier, the decline bench press is great for lower chest.
However, I find it not completely effective for an overall chest workout.
One problem that can occur from only training decline bench is that your lower pecs will develop, but the rest of your chest won’t.
What this does is give off the effect of breasts, with a weak upper chest that remains flat or caved in.
Trust me, that is not the look you are going for.
So, if you plan to do decline bench press, make sure to factor in the other variations of bench press, as well.
There’s nothing worse than being unbalanced, especially on glamor muscles like chest and arms.
Related: Pros & Cons of a Decline Bench Press
The Pros and Cons of Chest Dips
Can Be Done with Various Weight Styles
Chest dips have nice versatility when it comes to the weights you can use with them.
Like I mentioned earlier, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with your feet.
You can use our genuine leather dip belt and use weight plates.
Or, you can even load weight on your back by using heavy chains.
All of these weights will make your chest dips feel very different but all will be effective.
Beneficial Even without Weights
The awesome thing about chest dips is that they are highly effective, even without weights.
Dips alone are challenging, and depending on how controlled you can be, they can produce immense gains.
Some people may not be able to completely get their chest parallel with the handles, but then tension on your chest will still be there.
Also, for beginners, I recommend implementing the use of a resistance band underneath your knees to help with the movement.
This helps “remove” some of the weight of your body and allows you to ease into the dip.
Targets a Majority of the Chest
Unlike decline bench press, chest dips can target the entire pectoral muscle.
You can also angle your body by leaning forward, back, or holding the dip for longer to change where you feel the rep.
To build an overall big chest that is even, chest dips are the way to go.
If you can add extra weight, your benefits increase basically tenfold.
Harder to Learn and Perform Properly
One downside to chest dips is that they are much harder to learn and perform properly compared to decline bench.
Decline bench press is super straight-forward and easy to get the hang of.
On the other hand, chest dips need some proper practice, knowledge of angles, and strength to control your bodyweight.
Basically, before you can even add more weight, you need to be comfortable with your own weight.
It can be daunting to learn and practice, but it’s worth it.
Usually, the gym will have the assisted pull-up/dip machine, which can be beneficial to you.
But, if you aren’t interested in taking your time to learn the movement and progressively get better over time, then you might not like dips.
Longer Process to Add More Weight
Another reason you may not prefer doing chest dips is that adding weight takes longer.
Not only from a progressive overload point of view but actually just putting the weights on.
With a dip belt, you get the most efficient way to load weight, but you still need to unhook and drag another plate over.
When you are lifting dumbbells between your feet, you need to carry all the dumbbells over and swap between each one.
For bench press, your weights are usually under stored under the barbell and they are convenient to throw on and take off.
Whereas with dips, it’s a long process to change your working weight.
But also, since the movement is much harder to perform, it’ll also take longer before you can even move up in weight (unless you’re a monster).
These are some things to keep in mind.
Decline Bench Press vs Dips — Which is Better?
Decline Bench Press vs Dips: Where Do You Train?
If you only train in the gym or prefer to train in the gym, then decline bench will most likely always be accessible.
Dips are possible, but an area to perform weighted dips in a busy gym is a little harder to find.
On the other hand, performing dips at home or a park is much easier than finding a place to bench press outside of the gym.
Furthermore, investing in a bench press setup for your home may be more beneficial than investing in a dip stand.
Your preference between these two exercises can vary greatly based on where you decide to train.
Related: How to Do Chest Dips at Home
Decline Bench Press vs Dips: What is Your Goal?
If you already are strong and have a foundation for chest, then both of these exercises are great.
For those who prefer calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, then dips will be your go-to.
Classic bodybuilders who love weights may prefer working on decline bench press with their benching routines.
But, all people can benefit from doing both movements.
If your goal is to build up your lower chest, I’d recommend doing decline bench press.
Yet, if you are focusing on overall chest development, then go with the chest dips — definitely.
Decline Bench Press vs Dips: How Much Time Do You Have?
Getting a good, well-rounded chest workout with dips takes some time.
This is especially true if you want to work in some extra weight with your dips.
But, with bench press, you can get through a bunch of sets fairly quickly.
I can do a round of incline, decline, and flat bench faster than doing chest dip warm-ups and then going into working sets.
If time is something you worry about when you’re in the gym, then go with the bench press.
However, if you can focus and take your time, chest dips will give you some great strength and results.
Time is money for a lot of people, but factoring time into these movements will also be gains.
It’s easier to invest less time in decline bench and get gains than it is with shorting your time with dips.
Final Thoughts on Decline Bench Press vs Dips
Decline Bench Press vs Dips: Work to Target Your Whole Chest
As I said, dips are more positioned to hitting your whole chest.
Balance is important and so is strengthening all parts of your pecs.
But, if you already bench a lot, then including decline will help get you well-rounded.
Participate in both movements and you’ll be golden — believe me.
Decline Bench Press vs Dips: Optimize Both Workouts to Your Advantage
For decline bench, use heavier weights, use resistance bands, and even chains.
When you do your chest dips, add more weight through the use of dumbbells, kettlebells, and chains.
But, for some real intense dips, use our leather dip belt and throw on multiple 45-lb plates.
Doing so will allow you to get the most out of these movements and make them worthwhile.
Don’t waste your time with decline bench press if you can’t work towards progressive overload.
And don’t even think about doing weighted chest dips before you learn to do a bodyweight dip first.
Now, go out there, and get a stronger, bigger chest!
Related: Smith Machine Bench Press Benefits