• You're all caught up!

Dips Vs. Push Ups

author image Paula Quinene
Paula Quinene is an Expert/Talent, Writer and Content Evaluator for Demand Media, with more than 1,500 articles published primarily in health, fitness and nutrition. She has been an avid weight trainer and runner since 1988. She has worked in the fitness industry since 1990. She graduated with a Bachelor's in exercise science from the University of Oregon and continues to train clients as an ACSM-Certified Health Fitness Specialist.
Dips Vs. Push Ups
Make sure your hand placement is correct during pushups. Photo Credit alexeyrumyantsev/iStock/Getty Images

Dips and pushups are bodyweight exercises you can do at home. According to a 2010 article by Jeffrey Harrison, published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, bodyweight training exercises are closed-chain movements. This means your limbs are stationary while the rest of your body is moving. Bodyweight exercises are functional exercises in that they more closely mimic your everyday activities compared to exercises that use pulley machines.

Muscles Used

Dips and pushups engage your pecs, your triceps and your deltoid or shoulder muscles. Your pecs and deltoids cross only at your shoulder joint. Your triceps muscles cross your shoulder and elbow joints. The degree of muscle activation for each muscle group depends on how you position your hands and your body while doing dips and pushups.

Work Your Pecs

Pushups are typically done on the floor balancing on your hands and on your toes or knees. Emphasize your pecs during a pushup by placing your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your elbows out to your sides and in line with your shoulders throughout the entire movement. Contract your core to maintain a straight line in your body. Perform dips on dip bars in order to focus on your pecs. Lean forward from the bar to strongly engage your chest muscles. You may use the assisted chin-up and dip machine if you are not strong enough to lift your body weight. As you're doing your dips, don't drop down too far, as you risk injuring your shoulders.

Work Your Triceps

In order to focus on your triceps when you do pushups, your hands must be directly under your shoulders. You must also keep your arms right next to your rib cage throughout the movement. To focus on your triceps while you do dips, keep your body in an upright position, barely leaning forward. Use a flat bench or sturdy chair to do an easier version of triceps dips. Sit on the chair with your hands right beside your buttocks. Bend your knees to place your feet flat on the floor. Lift your buttocks off the bench and lower your body until your arms are parallel to the floor. Return to the start position and repeat.

Exercise Variations

Increase the intensity of dips and pushups by a elevating your feet on a chair or a bench. You may also place your hands wider during a pushup to work your chest muscles harder. If you bring your hands closer than shoulder-width, you will make the exercise more difficult for your triceps muscles. Use a dipping belt to add weight when you use the dip bars. Straighten your legs or elevate your feet to increase the intensity of triceps dips on a bench. The American College of Sports Medicine encourages you to do progressively harder multi-joint exercises to continue to improve your fitness.

Convenient Exercises

You can do bodyweight exercises at home, in the gym or in a hotel room. While you may not have a dipping machine, you can easily use a chair or the edge of the bathtub. Dip bars are available for purchase online to install on any durable wall. Do pushups for your triceps and chest muscles against the wall if you are unable to support your body weight on your hands and knees. Then, you can use the edge of the sink or the edge of the bathtub as your strength and endurance improve.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media