WEIGHTED DIPS VS PUSH UPS VS BENCH PRESSES AN IN-DEPTH COMPARISON
If you’re like me you want to know who wins between weighted push ups dips and the bench press.
Dips, Weighted Push Ups and Bench Presses build massive pecs, rounded shoulders, and shredded triceps!
But factions of each camp swear that “their” exercise is the best at building upper body size and strength.
So which one of these exercises is truly king?
I set upon a journey to find out.
WHY COMPARE - WEIGHTED PUSH UPS VS WEIGHTED DIPS VS BENCH PRESS
Upper body strength has always been measured by how much weight you could lift over your head.
That way, the overhead press should be part of this comparison.
In fact, those seeking aesthetics could also pursue the overhead press. Overhead pressing builds capped shoulders, horseshoe triceps and mountainous traps in one movement.
But somewhere along the line, the overhead press was forgotten.
Exercises that allowed the lifter to push more weight took center stage.
The overhead press could not keep up with the amount of weight being moved by bench presses and dips.
Bench presses and weighted dips are now the yardsticks for upper body pressing strength. The odd lift in this comparison is the weighted push up.
Let’s face it, regular push ups cannot compare to behemoths like bench presses and dips.
Even regular weighted push ups, where the weight is placed on your back is a joke compared to these monsters.
But, push ups done with a dipping belt and some plates make the weighted push up a different beast!
When loaded with a dipping belt and plates, the loading capacity of the weighted push up becomes unlimited!
And that is why the dipping belt weighted push up is part of this comparison.
It is mind-boggling to me why people don’t do their weighted push ups this way!
My experiments with dipping belt weighted push ups have exceeded my expectations.
Let’s see how this rare beast compares to the other two monsters in this comparison.
Can weighted push ups keep up with the bench press and weighted dips?
Let’s find out which lift comes out on top!
Comparing Weighted Push Ups Vs The Bench Press Vs. Weighted Dips:
This comparison is based on the ability of these exercises to:
- Use The Most Muscle Mass
- Lift The Heaviest Weights
- Take The Muscles Through Maximum Range Of Motion
- Build Maximum Strength And Muscle
- Create The Most Aesthetic Physique
- Carry-Over To Other Sporting Activities (Most Athletic Lift)
- Be Judged In Competition
- Reduce Risk Of Injury
- Use Inexpensive, Easily Accessible Equipment
- Be Done Without Any Assistance From A Spotter
CAN WEIGHTED PUSH UPS BUILD AS MUCH MUSCLE AS THE BENCH PRESS AND WEIGHTED DIPS?
Bench presses, weighted push ups and dips all work the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Lifts that use maximum muscle mass strengthen the entire body as a unit.
But, weighted push ups and dips do much more than that! They also work the muscles of the “core” – the abs and serratus anterior.
Additionally, weighted push ups and dips also move the body through space! Moving the body through space recruits more stabilizers.
Bench presses on the other hand are done lying down! Only the bar needs to be stabilized as the body lies on a stable bench.
Thus, bench presses use the least amount of muscle mass during the lift.
Weighted push ups on the other hand use the most muscle mass!
Due to the way the body is positioned as it moves through space, weighted push ups also recruits the glutes and spinal erectors.
Both these muscles are “go” muscles that are used in multiple heavy lifts.
This makes weighted push ups done on gymnastics rings a force to be reckoned with.
Dips work the same muscles as weighted push ups, except the spinal erectors and glutes.
Thus, weighted dips recruit less muscle mass than weighted push ups., but more muscle than the bench press!
CAN WEIGHTED PUSH UPS LIFT AS MUCH WEIGHT AS BENCH PRESSES AND DIPS?
The bench press is king when it comes to the amount of weight used in the movement.
Bench presses were designed to move gargantuan weights. This is because bench presses are done while lying down on a stable platform.
Insane numbers can be put up fast on this lift.
But, insane amounts of weight can be moved on the weighted dip as well!
Calisthenics athletes use weighted dips as their primary upper body strength exercise for ages.
Weighted dips are harder to perform than bench presses because your hands have to stabilize your body and the weight during the movement.
Thus, the dip falls slightly short of weights moved during the bench press.
Theoretically, weighted push ups can use as much weight as the weighted dip, if not more!
I say theoretically because there are no weighted push up competitions! No one tests their max weighted push up (with the setup mentioned above) because it is an odd lift.
During weighted push ups, the load is distributed between the upper and lower body.
Since all 4 limbs support the movement, weighted push ups are more stable than weighted dips.
But, since you aren’t lying on your back, weighted push ups are less stable than the bench press.
This is likely why the bench press moves the most weight out of these 3 exercises!
The dip comes in at a close second, and the weighted push up remains untested at max weights.
DO BENCH PRESSES HAVE LESS RANGE OF MOTION THAN WEIGHTED DIPS AND PUSH UPS?
Weighted push ups, dips and bench presses take your muscles through the maximum effective range of motion.
Although the barbell bench press has a limited range due to the bar touching your chest at the bottom of the rep.
But weighted push ups and dips are known for the stretch they provide in the chest at the bottom of the movement.
Nothing stops the chest from moving past the wrists at the bottom of weighted push ups and dips.
This stretch at the bottom of weighted push ups and dips gives additional range of motion that can spurt new muscle and strength gains.
Thus, weighted push ups and dips move the chest through a greater range of motion than the bench press.
WHICH EXERCISE BUILDS MORE TOTAL BODY STRENGTH? - WEIGHTED PUSH UPS, BENCH PRESSES OR WEIGHTED DIPS?
Exercises that build total body strength and must:
- Use the most muscle mass in the lift
- Use the heaviest weights
- Take the muscles through the maximum effective range of motion.
All 3 criteria have been discussed and scored individually above.
Bench presses lose out due to its reduced range of motion and because it is done while lying down!
Also, the amount of weight that can be moved by all three lifts varies only marginally at elite levels.
Thus, weighted push ups and dips have the ability to build more total body strength in the long run.
It is important to note that all compound exercises build more muscle than isolation exercises.
But compound exercise that move the body through space will always build more muscle mass than those that don’t!
CAN YOU BUILD AS MUCH MUSCLE WITH WEIGHTED PUSH UPS COMPARED TO BENCH PRESSES AND DIPS?
Each of these 3 exercises build certain muscles groups better than others.
Weighted dips are known to be better at building massive shoulders and triceps.
While bench presses are better at building a fuller chest.
But, weighted push ups are unique, as they are performed at an angle between bench presses and dips.
Weighted push ups build the chest, shoulders and triceps as well as, if not better than bench presses and dips.
In fact, weighted push ups also build the abs and the serratus anterior. Both these muscles are important for that shredded look from the front!
Thus, weighted push ups win in terms of building a more well rounded aesthetic physique.
The dip comes in at second as it also works the abs apart from the chest, shoulders and triceps.
While the bench press comes in at a respectable third, because of its ability to build a massive chest.
WHICH EXERCISE HAS BETTER CARRY-OVER TO OTHER SPORTING ACTIVITIES?
Strength transfer from one exercise to another is known as carry-over.
Certain exercises carry-over better than others.
Weighted push ups, bench presses and dips all carry-over from one to the other.
Arguably, weighted push ups have the most carryover to bench presses and dips. This is because weighted push ups mimic bench presses and dips very well.
Weighted push ups are more of a horizontal pushing movement like the bench press. But, they also move the entire body through space like weighted dips.
The horizontal torso angle at the bottom of weighted push ups mimics the bench press. At the top, the vertical torso angle mimics the weighted dip.
Thus, weighted push ups have excellent carry-over to bench presses and weighted dips.
The other exercise that has excellent carry-over is the weighted dip.
Weighted dips have been used to improve the overhead press for ages. This is because dips are an excellent shoulder building exercise.
Having a heavy weighted dip will also carry-over extremely well to your bench press.
Calisthenics athletes with elite weighted dips have bench pressed impressive weights with ease.
Let’s now talk about the bench press; having a massive bench press is not a guarantee of having a heavy dip.
The shortened range of motion of the bench press can limit your ability to get depth during dips.
Weighted push ups and dips need to stabilize the entire body as it moves through space.
Bench presses only require stabilization of the bar, as the body is supported by the bench!
This makes both weighted push ups and dips more athletic than the bench press.
Thus, weighted push ups and dips also carry-over well to real life and other sporting activities.
Dips carry-over to climbing sports. While weighted push ups carry-over well to grappling sports like jiu-jitsu.
In a lot of grappling sports, your opponent places all their weight on top of you, just like in weighted push ups.
Weighted push ups mimic these grappling situations very well.
Having the plates push you down during weighted push ups, builds a strong “core”. In fact, weighted push ups also carry-over well to squats and deadlifts.
This is because of the type of bracing required, along with the amount of stress on the spinal erector and abs.
NOTE: It is important to understand that strength gain in any of these 3 exercises will have carry-over in some way if the same muscles groups are being used. The degree of carry-over will vary from lift to lift and from situation to situation. The more muscle mass involved in a lift, the more carry-over it will have to other physical activities.
Thus the weighted push ups wins in terms of strength carry-over to other physical endeavors.
Weighted dips come in at a close second, while the bench press comes in last.
COMPETITION STANDARDS - BENCH PRESS VS WEIGHTED DIPS VS WEIGHTED PUSH UPS
Lifts that are competition worthy must be:
- Easily judged and
The bench press lends itself well to being judged as a lift. The standard range of motion is judged from locked elbows at the top, to the bar touching your chest at the bottom.
Thus, the bench press ticks both check boxes when it comes to a competition lift. For dips; range of motion is harder to judge.
Dips are judged by the shoulder crossing the elbow joint at the bottom and locking the elbows at the top.
Weights carried during the weighted dip also include your bodyweight.
Thus, the dip also checks both boxes when it comes to competition lifts. The range of motion is standardized and the lift can be easily judged.
This is what makes both the bench press and the weighted dip competition lifts.
The weighted push up on the other hand is an odd lift. It is not yet a competition lift and might never be one.
This is because weighted push ups have one huge flaw as a competition lift.
While the range of motion can be standardized, weighted push ups cannot be easily judged.
This is because it is easy to pull your hips back when performing weighted push ups. Thereby disguising the pressing movement with leaning back!
Thus, the weighted push up might never become a competition lift. But, don’t let that discourage you from performing the movement.
Weighted push ups have many benefits that go beyond being a competition lift.
So, if you’re looking to compete, you have 2 choices – bench press and weighted dips.
All the best!
DO DIPS CARRY A GREATER RISK OF INJURY COMPARED TO BENCH PRESSES AND WEIGHTED PUSH UPS?
Injury rates in sports are measured by the average number of injuries sustained per 1000 hours.
Studies show that the rate of injury in strength sports is far lower than even basketball or soccer.
But when it comes to strength sports (or sports in general), no exercise is risk-free.
In fact, certain exercises are far riskier than others.
The dip is a high-risk high reward exercise.
Since there is no hard stop at the bottom of the dip, going too heavy poses a grave risk.
Many shoulders have been injured at the bottom of heavy weighted dips.
But, the potential for injury doesn’t end there, the rest of the movement can be just as dangerous.
If you can’t keep your shoulder blades depressed during dips, you can injure the joint.
Dips are also notorious for causing sternum pain. Stories of cracked sternums haunt the internet.
This makes the dip the riskiest of the 3 exercises.
Bench presses are relatively safe to perform when done with a spotter.
You can get pinned under the bar if you miss a heavy rep without your spotter.
So, if you’re benching without a spotter, make sure to use safety pins.
Safety pins allow you to slide out from under the bar if it does come crashing down!
Keeping the shoulder blades pinched together and depressed (pushed downward) is one of the keys to staying risk free during the bench presses.
Maintaining proper form and technique during any of these lifts will obviously reduce your risk of getting injured.
Like dips, weighted push ups performed on gymnastics rings also don’t have a ‘hard stop’ at the bottom.
To end a failed set, all you have to do is place one foot in front of the other to distribute the load to your legs.
The ability to use your front foot as a fail-safe during weighted push ups makes it the safest of the 3 exercises!
COST OF EQUIPMENT USED - BENCH PRESS VS WEIGHTED DIPS VS WEIGHTED PUSH UPS
When comparing equipment used, the exercise with the most accessible and cost effective equipment wins.
The bench requires a barbell, some sort of rack, plates and a bench to press from.
While weighted push ups and dips need a dipping belt, plates and a platform to dip/push up from.
Equipment for the bench press is not cheap. A good barbell, bench, power rack and plates can cost you upwards of an arm and a leg.
Dips and weighted push ups both need plates too, which cost a lot. But plates can be bought as and when your strength increases.
The dipping belt required for both exercises barely costs a fraction of what a barbell would. Although dipping stations can cost a good sum of money too!
While I don’t recommend doing dips on gymnastics rings, they can be done on rings too.
As for weighted push ups, gymnastics rings are almost a must! Gymnastics rings are cheap, accessible, portable and can be used with different exercises.
So here, the weighted push up wins over the weighted dip and the bench press comes in last.
ASSISTANCE REQUIRED FROM SPOTTERS DURING BENCH PRESSES, WEIGHTED PUSH UPS AND DIPS
Exercises that need a spotter to help start or finish are annoying.
Finding spotters can be a pain and finding a good spotter who doesn’t interrupt the lift can be difficult.
Thus, exercises that don’t need the help of a spotter are good to keep in your exercise rotation. They make you and your workouts less dependent on the presence of others.
With the right equipment, all 3 exercises can be done without any assistance.
Heavy bench presses done without a spotter requires the use of safety pins, in case you get pinned under the bar.
Using safety pins is a safe way to fail your bench press without a spotter. Even spotters can mess up if the bar comes crashing down too fast.
Heavy weighted dips can be a little harder to fail safely.
Using specialized equipment like a long climbing rope can help. A rope that allows the weight to hit the ground before you reach maximum range at the bottom can help prevent injury.
But there are no guarantees here. Even having a spotter wouldn’t help much when failing heavy weighted dips, so be careful!
The weighted push up on the other hand doesn’t need a spotter. It is easy to set up and safe to fail. If you’re looking for a spotter free exercise, this is the one for you.
To safely fail weighted push ups; place one foot in front of the other, or push your hips back, thus transferring the weight from your hands to your legs.
I was fully expecting the bench press to come out on top at the end of this comparison, but boy was I wrong!
When you objectively put these exercises head to head, it is clear to see the benefits that each one brings to the table.
Here are the results of weighted dips vs push ups vs bench press: