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Dips vs Push-Ups: A Complete Breakdown (+ How to Choose)

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As more people shift to working out from home, it is important to know what workouts to do and why. 

People want to work on their arms, and two main exercises focus on the arms that don’t require weights. When planning a workout routine at home, you should become familiar with dips vs push-ups. 

Dips and push-ups are seen as very similar workouts that allow you to use your body weight to focus on the shoulders and triceps. 

Both exercises also help you work with your back and chest. 

Both types of exercises can work out the same muscle group in different ways, and any workout routine should include both types to work out the arms, chest, and back fully.

Depending on the exercise, you will work out the arms, chest, and back through a different range of motion. 

If you have poor chest mobility, both pushups and dips can help you open up the muscles. Both movements have benefits and downsides to them.

They also complement each other in workout routines. If you want to strengthen your shoulders and triceps, both of these exercises are necessary. 

There is no need to choose a side in the dips vs push-ups debate.  

Dips

Dips may look difficult at first, but there are many ways to complete dips that make it easier to complete and gives you flexibility on what muscles to focus on. 

Dips do not require a lot of expensive or big equipment to do correctly. With a bench or any raised surface, dips can be a great addition to any workout routine. 

The range of motion during this exercise is the best way to focus on the triceps and shoulders. 

You can also focus on the chest by moving the arms further away from your body, and keeping your arms in contact with your abdominal muscles will focus on the triceps. 

Correct Form

If you want to perform dips to build strong pecs, it’s crucial that you focus on nailing the correct form from the first rep to the last.

Just like learning pronunciation in a foreign language, if the first time you learn how to do dips you do so incorrectly, you’re going to have a hard time unlearning the poor form later down the line.

As such, you should make every effort to execute perfect form before you even set foot in the gym. That means watch videos, read guides, and study images if you have to. Learn which muscles should be activated, and what the most common mistakes are when performing the exercise.

Since dips are a bodyweight movement, it’s easy to underestimate them and assume that you’ll be able to do them with ease. Don’t make this assumption, approach the exercise with a humble attitude and learn with every workout.

Here are some of our top tips for nailing perfect dip form and avoiding injury:

  • Avoid rolling your shoulders forward as you descend back down to the bars, as this can lead to shoulder pain over time. Instead, make sure they are back and down for the duration of the movement.
  • Your shoulders should go just below your elbows at the bottom of the movement but no further. 
  • Lock your elbows out at the top of the movement.
  • Don’t attempt to perform dips on a mobile object like gymnastic rings until you have mastered static bar dips.

Benefits of Dips

There are several benefits to a dips workout. Once you become familiar with how to complete dips you will be able to do them in many ways in different locations. Some benefits of dips include

  • Able to adjust for different skill levels
  • Can be completed with minimal equipment
  • Strengthens the back of the body without specifically focusing on it
  • Can complete in any surrounding
  • Requires very little space
  • Easy to do when traveling
  • Can focus on different muscle groups

As you can see, a dips workout should be key in any workout for a focus on triceps and shoulders. 

One study showed that a program of weight training and dips can improve performance on the baseball field, which speaks to the versatility of the exercise.

The range of motion can be easily adjusted to focus on different muscle groups and is easily done with just your bodyweight. However, you can add more weight for more resistance. 

Downsides of Dips

Even with all of the listed benefits, there are some downsides to dips and should be taken into consideration before adding them to a workout routine.

Some people will struggle to do them correctly, and equipment is required to complete some variations of dips. Some downsides include

  • Requires balance and stability to complete successfully
  • People with wrist or elbow injuries will be unable to do them
  • Will need gym gloves or another form of protection from developing blisters
  • Will need to have parallel bars or rings to do those kinds of dips
  • The equipment will need to be adjustable for more variation in workouts

Dips are a useful workout tool for many people, but they can cause problems and be restrictive depending on how you want to do them. 

They also require a certain level of skill that some people may not have.

 That is nothing that some practice won’t be able to help you with though.  

Push-Ups

The other side when discussing dips vs push-ups is push-ups. Push-ups are a familiar workout that focuses on your arms that can be done in different ways to strengthen different muscle groups, including the shoulders and triceps.

Many people think that there is only one way to complete a push-up, but by adjusting your hand placement you can change the range of motion and focus on different muscle groups. It is a staple in many routines for a reason. 

Correct Form

You might think pushups are the easiest exercise in the world.

And while that may well be true for some, the chances are if you think this and you aren’t a professional athlete or haven’t served in the military, you are doing it wrong.

Pushups are simple, yes, but they shouldn’t be easy.

This is a movement that brings a lot of muscles into play, and it can be one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for building a strong chest.

Yet most of the time when you challenge your friend to a pushup competition, you’ll notice that their form is questionable at best, and they probably ‘cheat’ the movement in order to be able to do as many as possible.

That’s fine, but if you want to get the most out of the exercise, you should focus on slowing things down and controlling the movement from start to finish.

As a general rule with bodyweight movements, the slower and more controlled you perform them, the more you can get from them. This trick is an excellent way to make simple moves like the squat and the pushup infinitely more challenging.

Here are some of our top tips for maintaining rock solid pushup form:

  •  With each pushup, you want to guide the movement with your breath, so you can supply rough oxygen to the muscles. That means you should try to inhale on the way down, and then as you explode up you should align the push with your exhalation.
  • Go slowly with each rep. If you can only manage ten pushups with a count of four seconds up, two seconds rest, and four seconds down then that’s completely normal. It doesn’t matter if your friend claims that they can do 100 in a single session, since they likely aren’t controlling the movement fully.
  • Keep your body aligned from head to toe at all times. To do so, keep your glutes and core engaged to stabilize your spine. This will reduce the risk of injury and bring more muscles into the exercise.

Benefits of Push-Ups  

Push-ups are a great workout that can be completed with just your body weight. 

There are also many different variations to push-ups and each one is adjustable for your left or right sides and gives a great planking workout. Some of the benefits of push-ups include

  • Works out every muscle in different variations
  • Various equipment can be added for more difficulty
  • It can be completed without any equipment
  • Easy workout to travel with
  • Easy to modify the range of motion
  • Doesn’t need much space
  • Works in many already established workout routines
  • Easy for people new to workouts to complete
  • Multifunctional exercise

It is easy to see why this is a workout that has stood the test of time. It is an adjustable exercise that works for many people. It should be incorporated into any workout for the majority of people.  

Downsides to Push-Ups

Even with these benefits, there are some downsides to push-ups. While it does provide many different ways to workout different muscles, it can be difficult for some people to complete and present problems for people looking for intense strength training. 

Some of the potential downsides to push-ups include

  • Maximum strength training exercises can be difficult
  • Advanced push-ups might be dangerous
  • Can be difficult for people with balance issues

When incorporating push-ups in your workout routine it is important to know what your limitations are. It is a great addition when used correctly and you understand your limitations. 

Dips vs Push-Ups

Now that you know the basics of dips and push-ups, it’s time to discuss which workout is best.

 The two exercises are very similar and give people engaging in these workouts a variety of options that differ in the range of motion and focus on different muscle groups. 

Like many debates in exercising, dips vs push-ups is a decision that can boil down to personal preference. 

There are some considerations to take into account in this debate though. 

Push-ups offer more variation in the range of motion and focus on different muscle groups. It is also typically easier for new people starting a workout routine to get used to completing push-ups. 

There are benefits to dips as well. 

They can offer a full-body workout as well and can be varied quickly. For a triceps and shoulders workout, dips are typically the most straightforward way to strengthen those muscles. 

Both of these exercises also travel well so you can keep up with your routine while on the road. 

No matter which exercises you focus on, you will be able to strengthen your muscles using just your body weight in different ways with both of these workouts. 

Both are workouts that should be incorporated into anybody’s workout routine to strengthen key muscles.

Variations of Both Exercises

Both the pushup and the dip are outstanding bodyweight movements in their own right, but did you know that you can enhance the effectiveness of both exercises with variations?

Explosive Pushups

If you’ve been doing pushups for long enough, you might want to ramp up the difficulty.

One of the best ways to enhance the chest-building effects of the movement is to do explosive pushups.

Plyometric pushups, as they’re otherwise known, can be much more effective for muscle growth than regular pushups.

Build fast-twitch muscle fibers by pushing off the ground explosively at the top of the movement, making sure to keep your hands out to catch your fall.

Wide and Narrow Pushups

If you’re looking for a simpler variation, give narrow or wide pushups a go.

While narrow pushups target the triceps more, wide pushups engage the outer chest more.

Include both variations in your workout routine friom time to time, and you’ll soon notice the results.

Weighted Dips

The simplest way to increase the difficulty of your dips is to add some weight into the equation.

The safest option is to wear a weighted vest, and then perform the exercise as usual.

The slightly riskier and more challenging option is to hold a weight plate between your feet for better core activation.

Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are one of the only reliable ways to build your triceps without the assistance of weights or resistance bands.

To perform a tricep tip, all you need is a chair.

Placing your hands on the chair facing slightly outwards, move out until your thighs are parallel with the ground and your feet are flat on the floor. In this position lower yourself until your shoulders are level with your elbows, and then push yourself back up.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dips & Push-Ups

Which is better, dips or push-ups?

Though both exercises are very similar, push-ups offer more range of motion that makes it easier to vary and workout different muscle groups. Dips are a great exercise, but push-ups are easier for people to start their workout journeys and can be modified easier for all strength levels. 

Do dips improve push-ups?

Dips help improve your arm strength, a key part of doing push-ups successfully. Doing one workout will likely improve your ability to do the other since they work on similar muscle groups. The range in motion differs in how the muscles are strengthened but both workouts will strengthen your arm muscles. 

Why are dips harder than push-ups?

Dips require more balance and stability to be completed successfully than push-ups. Since you need to balance on your hands and not many people are used to balancing this way, it is harder to get familiar with how to do dips. 

Dips may also involve working on muscles you’re not used to working with. 

Should I do dips and push-ups on the same day?

There is no reason to avoid doing dips and push-ups on the same day unless your routine calls for an intense day of one specific set of dips or push-ups. 

When starting, you may want to focus on one over the other each day but as you get used to them it is okay to do both in one day.   

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A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle

Dips and push-ups are both great workouts that can give your workout routine several options to strengthen your key muscles. 

Both exercises are needed to make sure your triceps and shoulders get proper workouts. 

Both are also simple enough that different ranges of motion can be added to work the muscles in different ways. 

When planning your workout routine, there is no reason to pick a side in the dips vs push-up debate. 

Both are easy workouts that can be done with your body weight and pair with other workouts well. 

If you are struggling with developing a home workout routine, adding these to your routine will make sure that you work on the essential muscles.  

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Article by:

Energetic Lifestyle Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Energetic Lifestyle Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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