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Dips vs Close Grip Bench: Which is Better for Triceps?

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Are you looking to build stronger and more defined triceps? Two popular exercises that target this muscle group are dips and close-grip bench press. While both exercises are effective, there is an ongoing debate as to which one is superior for building tricep strength and muscle mass.

In this article, we will provide a complete guide to dips and close-grip bench press. We will explore the similarities and differences between these exercises, as well as their benefits and limitations. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which exercise may be best suited for your fitness goals.

We promise a balanced exploration of these exercises, so you can make informed decisions about your training routine. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced lifter, this article will provide valuable insights into dips and close-grip bench press. So, let’s dive in and discover which exercise will help you achieve your tricep goals!

Unveiling the Mechanics: A Deep Dive into Each Exercise


Dips are an excellent compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the triceps, chest, and shoulders. The movement pattern involves lowering your body down between two parallel bars or handles until your arms form a 90-degree angle, then pushing yourself back up to the starting position.

When performing dips, it’s important to maintain proper form to ensure maximum activation of the targeted muscle groups and minimize the risk of injury. Common variations of dips include weighted dips, parallel dips, and bench dips.

Bodyweight and leverage play a significant role in the difficulty of dips. As your bodyweight increases, dips become more challenging, making them an effective exercise for building upper body strength and muscle mass. However, individuals with shoulder mobility issues may find dips to be uncomfortable or painful.

Close-Grip Bench Press:

The close-grip bench press is a variation of the traditional barbell bench press that involves bringing your hands closer together on the bar. This exercise primarily targets the triceps, with some activation of the chest and shoulders.

The movement pattern involves lowering the bar to your chest, then pushing it back up to the starting position. The close-grip bench press allows for progressive overload by increasing the weight on the bar, making it an effective exercise for building upper body strength and muscle mass.

Maintaining proper form is crucial when performing the close-grip bench press to avoid shoulder strain. Common variations of the exercise include narrow grip, incline, and decline bench press. The decline bench press targets the lower portion of the chest, while the incline bench press targets the upper chest.

Weighing the Strengths: Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Exercise


Dips are a great bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. They offer multiple variations for different difficulty levels, making them accessible to anyone. Dips are a great exercise for developing functional strength and core engagement, as they require the use of multiple muscle groups in the upper body.

However, dips have some limitations. After reaching bodyweight capacity, there is limited potential for progressive overload. Additionally, dips require more upper body strength to perform effectively, which may be a disadvantage for beginners. Lastly, dips may put greater stress on shoulder joints compared to close-grip bench press, which may increase the risk of injury.

Close-Grip Bench Press:

Close-Grip Bench Press is a great exercise that allows for easier progressive overload with barbell weights. It places less stress on shoulder joints compared to dips, which may make it a better option for those with shoulder issues. Close-Grip Bench Press can be incorporated into existing chest and tricep workouts seamlessly, making it a versatile exercise.

However, Close-Grip Bench Press requires access to a weight bench and barbell, which may not be accessible to everyone. It may not offer the same level of core engagement as dips, which may be a disadvantage for those looking to develop functional strength. Improper form can increase the risk of shoulder injuries, so it is important to use proper form when performing this exercise.

Finding Your Champion: Matching Exercise to Individual Goals and Limitations

Building Tricep Mass and Strength:

When it comes to building tricep mass and strength, both dips and close-grip bench press can be effective exercises. For beginners, it is recommended to start with close-grip bench press with proper form to build a foundation and learn progressive overload. This exercise targets the triceps and chest, and can be easily loaded with weights.

For intermediate and advanced lifters, alternating between dips and close-grip bench press can provide varied stimulus and prevent plateaus. This will challenge the triceps and help to build muscle mass and strength.

Functional Strength and Bodyweight Training:

If you are looking to prioritize functional strength and bodyweight training, dips should be your exercise of choice. Dips are accessible and can be done with minimal equipment, making them a great option for those who do not have access to a gym. Additionally, dips engage the core and promote functional movement patterns.

To increase the challenge of dips, explore weighted dip variations. This can be done by adding weight plates or wearing a weighted vest.

Shoulder Considerations and Injuries:

If you have shoulder issues, it is important to prioritize proper form and choose close-grip bench press with lighter weights. This exercise targets the triceps while minimizing strain on the shoulders. It is important to consult a physical therapist for personalized guidance if experiencing pain during either exercise.

Remember, it is important to listen to your body and choose exercises that match your individual goals and limitations. If you are unsure which exercise is best for you, consider consulting a conditioning coach or personal trainer. Ryan Horton, a conditioning coach and former strength and conditioning coach at Georgia Tech, recommends prioritizing compound movements and triceps exercises for optimal results.

Beyond the Binary: Combining Strategies for Optimal Results

When it comes to building upper body strength and achieving optimal muscle growth, dips and close-grip bench press are two popular exercises that effectively target the triceps, chest, and shoulders. However, rather than choosing one over the other, incorporating both exercises into your training program can lead to a well-rounded tricep development. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your workouts.

Incorporate Both Exercises

To optimize your tricep development, it’s important to utilize both dips and close-grip bench press in your workout routine. By alternating exercises within the same or across different workout sessions, you can provide your muscles with the necessary variation to continue growing.

Prioritize Form Over Ego

While it may be tempting to increase weight or difficulty, prioritizing proper technique and controlled movements is crucial. Don’t sacrifice form for heavier weights, especially with close-grip bench press. Common mistakes include flaring out your elbows or arching your back, which can lead to injury and hinder progress.

Listen to Your Body

Pay attention to pain signals and adjust exercises or weights as needed. Prioritize rest and recovery for optimal muscle growth and injury prevention. Consulting with a certified strength and conditioning specialist can also help ensure proper form and technique.

By incorporating both dips and close-grip bench press into your training program, prioritizing proper form, and listening to your body, you can achieve optimal results in your tricep development.


In summary, both dips and close-grip bench press are solid exercises to consider adding to your workout routine if you’re looking to target your triceps. Each exercise has its own unique benefits, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual goals, limitations, and preferences.

If you’re looking for an exercise that requires minimal equipment and can help you develop natural strength to assist with bench work and joint stability, dips are a great option. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an exercise that’s easier to load and can provide more isolation for your triceps, close-grip bench press may be the better choice.

It’s important to remember that proper form is crucial for both exercises to avoid injury and achieve the desired results. Take the time to learn the correct technique and start with lighter weights or assistance if needed.

Experimentation is key to finding the combination of exercises that works best for you to achieve your fitness objectives safely and effectively. Don’t be afraid to try different variations and adjust your routine as needed.

Recap the key takeaways: both dips and close-grip bench press offer valuable benefits for tricep development. Reiterate the importance of individual goals, limitations, and proper form when choosing exercises. Encourage experimentation and finding a combination that works best for you to achieve your fitness objectives safely and effectively.

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Lauren Price

Lauren Price is the co-owner of Lava Barre, a specialized fitness boutique that focuses on achieving balance for the body, mind, and soul. With a passion for fitness and wellness, Lauren and her business partner Vanessa set out to create a unique barre class that not only challenges the body but also inspires the mind.

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