Have you ever wondered, “Are Dips and Push Ups Enough For Chest?”
It’s a question I see asked fairly often.
I would hazard a guess that those asking either don’t have access to a barbell bench press area, or simply don’t like the exercise.
I will say that there isn’t one sole exercise that is essential to perform irrespective of the body part you’re training.
So, you definitely don’t need to be benching for a great set of pecs.
However, are these two bodyweight moves enough, or should you add something more to your repertoire?
I shall cover all these points now.
Are Dips and Push Ups Enough For Chest?
Dips and push ups are certainly enough to develop your chest. If you want to add further size and strength to your chest you should add resistance and perform variations of each exercise. Weighted dips will also have a knock-on effect on your bench press, and you should notice that you are able to bench more weight. With that being said, the bench press alone isn’t great for overall chest development, so you would typically need to perform other chest-focused exercises anyway. A great place to start is with dips and push ups.
1. Pure Bodyweight Moves Will Develop the Chest
If you’re into pure bodyweight training then dips and push ups would typically be your “go-to” exercises for chest.
In fact, I’m sure most people struggle to come up with alternatives when it comes to training their pecs with bodyweight movements.
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With that being said, you actually don’t need a great deal else in order to develop your chest.
That’s right, dips and push ups are that good.
Add to this that you’ll hit the shoulders and especially the triceps to great effect as well.
Okay, you may not build massive size and strength in your pecs without hitting the weights, but this all depends on what you consider satisfactory.
But then again there are those who will completely disagree with this statement, and have the chest to prove it.
For me, dips and push ups are more than enough for chest.
However, you can take both exercises one step further and produce an awesome set of pecs.
2. Look to Add Resistance
I’ll go as far as to say that there are few, if any, exercises that will give you a massive chest as weighted dips.
Plus, you have the ability to add more-and-more weight which will help you to get really strong.
Obviously, this does depend on your starting point and what you’re specifically training for.
However, just like any other bodyweight exercise, the more you become used to dips, the more reps you’ll be able to perform.
This means that you’ll typically get into the realms of muscular endurance once you’re regularly hitting sets of 15-25 reps.
Don’t get me wrong, with an exercise like dips you’ll still be adding muscle with high reps.
But, this is the perfect opportunity to don a weight belt and lower your reps.
I can guarantee that once you get to performing dips with 2,3 or even 4 weight plates hanging off you, your chest is literally going to blow up.
The same can also be said for push ups too.
Most of us don’t typically look at adding resistance to push ups.
We either perform more-and-more reps, or look for harder alternatives.
However, you can easily strength train with push ups by wearing a weighted vest, having a weight plate on your back, or using resistance bands.
In truth, the possibilities are endless.
As with any exercise you perform, you will get bigger and stronger through progressive overload.
And the best way to do this is by adding resistance.
3. Use Variations of Dips and Push Ups
The main issue that you’ll have with performing traditional dips and push ups is that you’ll mainly be training the middle and lower chest.
This will actually develop your pecs really well, but there’s something spectacular about having a fantastic-looking upper chest.
I guess this is why most of us turn to incline variations with the bench press and dumbbell chest presses.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use variations of both dips and push ups to hit the upper chest as well.
The most obvious variation will be to perform decline push ups.
When it comes to dips in order to hit the chest more than the triceps you should lean forward ever so slightly.
Regardless of what you may have been told, the more you lean forward the more you’ll activate the separation of the chest, as well as the upper chest muscles.
I will say that you should be wary of dipping down too far and going below a ninety degree angle between your upper and lower arms.
This will put a lot of stress on the rotator cuff.
You should also try a variety of hand positions for push ups, going from normal, to wide, to narrow, to uneven.
There are even variations such as archer push ups to try as well.
The same can be said for dips, although you may be limited by the equipment you’re using.
If the dip bars don’t allow you to change from narrow to wide, you’ll need to try something else.
I actually think isometric holds are a great way to train dips for your chest.
Push Ups & Dips For Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
4. The Bench Press Isn’t Great For Overall Chest Development
The bench press is one of the “Big 3” powerlifting exercises, along with squats and deadlifts.
And even though most gym-goers aren’t powerlifters there seems to be an assumption that you have to perform these exercises.
In fact, the big 3 are often viewed as the best exercises for the primary muscle groups that they train.
However, this simply isn’t true for any three of the exercises.
The reason squats, deads, and bench are looked upon so favourably is because they’re massive compound exercises which allow you to hit a lot of muscles at the same time.
But, this still doesn’t mean they’re the best for individual muscle groups.
The barbell bench press alone is certainly not enough for optimal chest development.
You will need to add supplemental chest exercises to produce an impressive set of pecs.
So, if you’re asking whether the two bodyweight moves or the bench press is better for overall chest development, there’s no contest as far as I’m concerned.
Dips and push ups win all day long.
5. Dips Can Improve Your Bench Press
If you’re simply looking to take a break from the bench then you can’t do much better than performing push up and dip variations.
However, something that is quite interesting is that dips can definitely improve your bench press.
You could take a month or so off performing the bench press and focus on dips.
Obviously, aim for variations, such as more forward lean, straight torso, wide grip and narrow grip (if possible), as well as isometric holds.
You can also obviously train weighted dips, and work on progressive overload the same as you would with any other exercise.
By this I mean set yourself a certain number of reps to perform and once you hit these reps you can add more weight.
I can guarantee that if you focus on dip training in this way, by the time you return to bench pressing you’ll be amazed at the results.
There is a definite knock-on effect, and you should find that your bench press has gone up.
I think this goes to show what a great exercise dips are.
Plus, if you throw push up variations into the mix you’ll have a chest you can be proud of.
Increase Your Bench Press With Weighted Dips
So, as you can see, dips and push ups are definitely enough for chest.
In fact, I’d say that you’d have a better developed chest than if you performed the bench press alone.
You should look to add resistance and variations to both your push up and dip workouts.
This will ensure that you get great overall chest development.
Plus, working hard on weighted dips will definitely have a knock-on effect, and you should find that you can eventually bench press heavier.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.