What Muscles Do Dips Work?

Summary: Dips for triceps? Dips for chest? What muscles do dips work? Find out in this article!


How many times have you been embarrassed due to those jiggling man boobs (moobs) or humiliated in team building competitions for not being able pull your body up the tree to get that “banner” on top of it?

One of the dudes approached you and suggested, “Man, you need to build your chest and triceps muscles with dips” [and then tapped you on the shoulders and walked away with a sarcastic smile on his face]. In split seconds, he made you thinking and asking yourself, “What muscles do dips work and what’s in it for me?

But then on a second thought objecting, “I do bench press and I think that’s enough.

Not exactly.

Don’t get me wrong, bench press is a good exercise, but doing dips is superb.

With that said, let me present to you the two variations of dips--for the chest, and for the triceps--and tell you how they’re both done.

Two Variations Of Dips Exercise

Chest Dips

Chest Dips Exercise

If you’re looking to build chest muscles, I suggest the chest dips variation. It requires you to lean your body forward and at the same time flare your elbows out while slowly going up and down.

Do it by grasping the handles of the pull-up bars and then pushing your body up to the starting position. And then lower yourself to the final position while your elbows are away comfortably from your body. See to it that your shoulders are slightly stretched in the final position.While leaning forward, start pushing yourself up back to the original position.

Triceps Dips

Triceps Dips Exercise

Now if you want to give focus on the triceps muscles, do the triceps dips in which the main action comes from the triceps muscles that extend your elbows—the primary movement in the exercise.

You do this by getting to the starting position, grab the bar handles and slowly go down, making sure your elbows are not flaring out. This is the main difference between a chest dips and a triceps dips--elbows flaring out versus elbows close to the body. When your elbows are close to your body, the triceps do more of the work, and when the elbows are flaring out, the stress is placed on the chest.

Now that we know the 2 variations of the dips, let’s now see what muscles do dips really work.

What Muscles Do Dips Work?

All these muscles are still worked regardless of what dips variation you use. The stress is just shift towards either triceps or chest.

Pectoralis Major

Pectoralis Major Muscle

It is the large muscle that comprises the chest, both the middle/lower, and the upper, which is fanning from the shoulders to the breastbone. It is activated mostly at the stretch position of the dips, whether descending or ascending. You can feel the chest getting a hard stretch on the extended position of the exercise.


Rhomboids Muscle

They are responsible for the retraction of the scapula and are innervated by the dorsal scapular nerve. Like when doing Bench Press, the rhomboids is responsible for the stabilization of the torso. When the rhomboids is retracted, you will more firepower during the pushing movements.

Anterior Deltoids

Anterior Deltoids

They are the muscles involved in shoulder abduction when the shoulder is rotated externally, and they assist the pectoralis major during shoulder flexion or shoulder transverse flexion.

Like the pectoralis major, it activates mostly at the extended position. Along with the chest, you can feel the stretch once you get to the bottom position and you will feel the muscle fibers firing up upon pushing to the top position.

Pectoralis Minor

Pectoralis Minor Muscle

It is a fan-shaped muscle that originates from the 3rd to the 5th ribs, and it is innervated by the lateral pectoral nerve and medial nerves.

Pectoralis minor is a small muscle groups underneath the pectoralis major. It assists the shoulders and chest in the pressing movements.

Triceps Brachii

Triceps Brachii

It’s a large muscle group located on the back of your upper limb and is responsible for elbow joint extension. It is mostly activated during the contracted position. When you go down lower, your chest and delts are doing the work, but halfway through the ascension, the bulk of the stress shifts to the triceps.

Now that you know what muscles do dips work, let’s now discuss the benefits of doing this exercise.

Why Do Dips Exercise?

Dips Exercise
  • Strength Building: It targets a couple of upper body muscles and builds their strength
  • Complex Movement: It requires a number of joints to perform and complete the action, puts you in the strength position and tones several muscle groups. By doing dips daily, you also improve muscle coordination, not only strength.
  • Modifiable: From an easy to a difficult movement, name it. There is a dips exercise for you.
  • Injury reduction: Dips effectively develop and tone your scapulars, shoulders, chest and triceps while reducing your risk to injury, if performed properly.

Dips are the best exercises for the chest and the triceps, but I also recognize that they may not be for those who are still building strength or who are experiencing pain when performing it. Any exercise that causes pain on top of muscle soreness must be stopped and a doctor must be consulted.

Thus, start slow and progress as you build power. Now if going to the gym is your problem, then you may want to check out our "List of the 5 Best Free standing Pull-up Bars article" to help you make a sound decision when finding a pull-up bar that’s right for you.

Did you find today’s post useful? Let me know in the comment section. Finally, spread the word! Share this article with friends today!


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments