< View Blog

Dips vs Push Ups – Information on Which One is Better

Nov 06, 2017

dips vs push ups how they differDips vs Push ups is an article written by our Dark Iron Fitness writer, Tina Ngai.

When it comes to dips vs push ups we’re mainly talking about the impact it has on your pecs.

Your pecs are a big deal. They make those catchy, sarcastic T-shirts look good, are the powerhouse behind big, solid hugs, and make celebratory chest bumps extra effective.

Strong chest muscles are a necessity whether you are trying to be a better athlete or just trying to make daily activities easier, such as pushing one of those big Costco shopping carts around.

When you are trying to balance work, family, and gym time, you want to make sure you manage your time effectively and get the most bang for your buck.

This includes choosing the right exercises for your fitness routine so that you get the results you want quickly and effectively.

When you want to focus on growing those chest muscles should you choose dips vs push-ups?

No matter what, dips are a great exercise and using a dip belt to do weighted dips will show huge benefits when trying to dip heavier weight to increase gains.

We highly suggest our weightlifting dip belt: Dark Iron Fitness Dip Belt

Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weightlifting Dip Belt

Our dip belt has been one of the highest rated and reviewed dip belt out on the market for a while now so you definitely won’t go wrong with choosing ours.


Target Muscles of Dips vs Push ups

target muscles dips vs push upsFirst, we need to focus on which of the chest muscles need to be worked on to help us reach our goals of effectively growing our chest muscles. The chest has 4 muscles:

  1. pectoralis major
  2. pectoralis minor
  3. subclavius
  4. serratus anterior

To develop our chests, we need to focus on the pectoralis major, which is made up of two main muscles, the clavicular head (upper chest) and sternal head (lower chest).


Dips vs push-ups are mainly chest exercises that really focus on growing our pecs.

They are both flexible exercises that you can easily modify to increase or decrease in intensity.

They can also be adapted to hit the triceps more and can be converted from chest exercises to tricep exercises.

Dips vs push-ups can both be done at home, although dips do need an elevated surface, such as a couch or bench.

Since both exercises can be done at home without having to go to a gym and waiting your turn at a piece of equipment, let’s try to clarify how they differ and which movement best fits your exercise program.

Related Article: 6 of The Best Dip Belts for Chin Ups, Pull Ups, and Dips

Dips vs Push ups – How Do They Differ?

Dips exerciseThey are both ideal for those involved in strength training, and some form of them can be done by people of all levels.

Both the dips vs push-ups are very core-intensive movements.

The push-up is a horizontal pressing exercise where your pectoral muscles, triceps and shoulders have to contract hard to get you back up.

The dip is a vertical pressing movement.

Think of dips as a vertical bench press, and you have to push your body up during a dip as if you are pressing the bar away on the bench.

push ups exercise

In general, dips require more shoulder mobility than push-ups, and can be “harder” on your shoulders.

So those with shoulder problems, shoulder mobility issues, and poor thoracic extension should be conscious of these concerns when including dips in their routines.

Image sources: here and here.

More info

The differences between dips vs push-ups may be insignificant for the beginner strength-trainer but for the exerciser who wants to make the most of his training routine, or focus on building up certain muscles, knowing the difference may help in designing the ideal work out plan.

The standard version of each of these exercises can vary in levels of difficulty, but in general push-ups are easier to perform.

Advanced athletes might find push-ups too easy to do and move on to dips.

This is often due to the fact that in a push-up your legs are holding up a large part of your body weight; but with a dip, you can use your upper body to support all of your body weight.

Those advancing to a dip without any foot support may find it almost impossible to do for the first few weeks because strength is lacking in the needed muscle areas.

For those who are not used to training, or are a bit heavy, they might find it difficult to do even one repetition of dips.

Dips require many more other muscles than push-ups.

Besides the muscles used for push-ups, dips require the use of your pectoralis minor, rhomboids, levator scapulae, latissimus dorsi, and teres major.

Dips hit the sternal and clavicular areas of the chest muscles, so they really use your chest muscles.

They also use more of the shoulder muscles.


Dips vs Push ups – the Comparison

muscles targeted by push upsPush-ups:

  • Easier to do and often a prerequisite for dips
  • More versatile with lots of options: incline/decline, hand distance placement, one arm progressions, stability tools, plyometrics
  • Easier to master for different skill levels
  • No need for equipments and you can do it almost anywhere


Dips:muscles worked during dips vs push ups

  • More advanced than push-ups due to less support, less muscles targeted and more body weight being lifted.
  • In general targets the triceps, anterior deltoids and lower pecs
  • It is less versatile where there is fewer variations and only few equipment you will need
  • More shoulder mobility needed
  • Can aggravate joints more than push-ups, often due to poor shoulder mobility which is a common issue
  • You can increase the difficulty level by adding weight to the belt



Various types of dips you can perform

wide chest dips vs push upsWith the various types of dips that you can perform, the most common are probably the parallel bar dip and bench dips.

With the parallel bar dip, your arms can support your entire body.

This version works mainly your chest muscles, triceps, and deltoids.

Most dips place the emphasis on the pectoralis sternum.

The angle of your upper body during a dip can affect how your target these muscles.

If you keep your body upright as your lower down for a dip this can switch the targeted muscles from your pecs to your triceps.

You can do bench dips to support your feet when needed which will relieve some of your body weight.

A bench dip is a workout bench you can use as a brace as you can lower your body into a sitting position.

A chest dip uses parallel bars as a brace, enabling you to dip in place while your legs hang freely beneath you.

Image Source: here

Push Ups variations you can perform

push up variationsLike dips, push-ups offer many variations.

With most push-up exercises you are parallel to the floor.

The main focus of a push-up is the pectoralis sternum. Although your anterior deltoid, triceps and clavicular muscles all come into play.

Your push-ups can target more of either your triceps or your chest. It depends on the positioning of your arms and how far apart they are.

The easiest push-up for those who need the most support would be to do wall push-ups.

With these you are standing about 2 feet away from a wall. The reason is that you are able to keep your arms straight. You can press your palms flat against the wall.

Keep your body straight and your core tight. You can do this as you slowly bend your elbows to bring your chest to the wall. Make your upper arms parallel to the wall.

Press against the wall until your arms are straight and repeat.

Another option for decreasing the difficulty level would be to do push-ups with your knees on the ground.

On the other hand, you can make them more challenging by elevating your feet on a bench. You can also use stability ball as you do a push-up.

Furthermore, you can perform specialty push-ups, such as the diamond push up, which will challenge you like no other.

Image source: here

Conclusion for Dips vs Push ups

You can perform dips to focus more on the lower pecs. While push-ups were among the best exercises for working the upper and lower pecs

Bodybuilders often go by this philosophy:

Mainly use dips as a general strength and muscle builder for the upper body. However, push-ups is an excellent movement for increasing the chest muscles.

Both these exercises still “hit” every part of the chest.

Overall both dips and push-ups effectively work the chest muscles. Assuming that you do them safely and on a regular basis. Add weights and challenges progressively, and have a healthy diet that is sufficient to support this growth.

So when it comes down to dips vs pushups it really depends on you.

Some people feel a better muscle contraction during dips, other during pushups. So this makes it tough to say which one is specifically better.

The best thing to do is try each on our for yourself to see which one gives you the best muscle contraction for your pecs personally.

We hoped you liked this article about dips vs pushups.

If you’re wanting to start adding weight to your dips and you’re looking for a dip belt then definitely check out ours:

 Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weightlifting Dip Belt