One of the most fundamental areas in which the average bodybuilder lacks is the chest. Some people find the pectorals a very tricky area to train, and try all manner of exercises in order to build a solid, commanding chest. In this article, we’ll take a look at the two leading chest exercises, and see if we can determine which is most effective. The exercises in question are the bench press, and dips.
If only one exercise could be done to add strength and mass for the upper body, it would have to be the bench press. Primarily an exercise to hit the pectorals, it also hits the deltoids and triceps, not to mention several stabiliser muscles such as the abdominals, neck, and biceps.
While its widely accepted amongst bodybuilding’ oft-fractured community that a wide grip bench press definitely hits the chest more than a narrow grip, it would seem there are many conflicting ideas about the height the bench press should be performed to best target the pecs; should it be performed low on the chest, arms tucked, power-lifter style, or should it be performed high up, arms flared, traditional bodybuilder style?
Personally, I think lifting with a grip wide enough to allow the arms to be tucked, lower on the chest, is the best way, and the safest way.
Of course, a bench press doesn’t have to be performed with a barbell. It’s widely accepted that dumbbell bench pressing is superior to barbell bench pressing when it comes to building the pecs, because of the greater range of motion permitted.
Naturally, weighted dips are nothing more than dips, whilst wearing a dip belt loaded with extra weight for more resistance. For the beginner, it would be wise to simply get used to the dip movement with their own bodyweight first, as it can take a bit of getting used to.
What you’ll notice when using the dip bars is the upper body will lurch forward, really putting emphasis on the chest. Bodybuilding guru Vince Gironda said he much preferred dips to bench pressing because it helped to hit the outer pec area, like no bench pressing exercise ever could.
Whilst I certainly feel its true that weighted dips work better than bench pressing for the chest, I think it shouldn’t be so much a case of weighted dips vs bench pressing, but the smart lifter will utilise both to keep their workouts fresh and get a much more balanced chest development.