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Close grip bench press vs dips for triceps mass and strength

Learn whether you should do dips or the close grip bench press for triceps size and strength.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 2nd May 2022
A man doing a close grip bench press vs dips comparison to see which is best for triceps mass

In this close grip bench press vs dips comparison, you’ll learn which of these two movements is best for triceps mass and muscle strength. I’ll be comparing the close grip bench press to both parallel bar dips and bench dips so that you can get a complete perspective on these exercises.

Related Comparisons:

Close grip bench press vs weighted dips

A man doing a close grip bench press vs weighted dips comparison

Let’s begin with a close grip bench press vs parallel bar dips comparison because both exercises are known to build slabs of triceps mass. Which one is best for triceps hypertrophy?

For beginners, the close grip bench press is the better choice because it has a lower barrier to entry. Bar dips, on the other hand, are quite a challenging exercise to perform even with no external resistance. For this reason, parallel dips are often unsuitable for novice lifters.

Compared to the CGBP, bar dips require more core strength because you have to support your body weight. They also tend to put quite a lot of pressure on the sternum, which can be uncomfortable for some lifters.

Since dips require greater core stability, it can be harder to establish a strong mind-muscle connection, which isn’t ideal if you’re training for hypertrophy.

Both exercises are great for gaining strength because you can easily increase the resistance in manageable increments by adding small or even fractional plates to the bar/dipping belt.

Close grip bench press vs bench dips

A man doing a head-to-head bench dips vs close grip bench press comparison

I just spoke about bar dips vs close grip bench press for strength and muscle growth, but how do bench dips stack up against the CGBP?

Bench dips are easier to perform than the close grip bench press because you can do them virtually anywhere. This is ideal if you’re working out at home with minimal or no equipment.

On the other hand, the close grip bench press is much easier to load than bench dips. You can always add weight to the barbell, whereas with tricep dips, you need to elevate your legs and then put weight plates on your legs, which is hard to do unless you have a training partner.

Even though bench dips arguably provide better triceps isolation than the CGBP, they don’t allow you to lift very heavy, which means that they’re far from ideal for building muscle once you’re an intermediate lifter.

Sure, bench dips are a great finishing exercise for getting a good pump, but unless you’re adding external resistance, I definitely wouldn’t call them a mass builder. The close grip bench press is the best bench dips alternative for those wanting to build triceps size.

Is a close grip bench press safer than dips?

A man doing a close grip bench vs dips comparison to illustrate the differences

Now for the safety part of this close grip bench vs dips comparison. Which one puts less pressure on your joints?

Dips definitely put more pressure on your sternum, especially if you lean forward rather than stay upright (which is the main difference between chest dips and tricep dips).

Dips also tend to put more strain on your shoulders and rotator cuffs, but you can mitigate much of this stress by cutting the range of motion, which will also help you to keep the tension on your triceps. When your elbows make a 90-degree angle, you know that you’ve gone deep enough on your weighted dips.

In terms of elbow stress, both movements are just about equal because they’re tricep dominant (and thereby elbow dominant) exercises.

Of course, with dips, you can’t drop a barbell on yourself, whereas that’s always a possibility (albeit a very slim one) with the CGBP.

When performed properly and with a sensible amount of weight, both dips and the close grip bench press are relatively safe exercises.

Should you do both movements?

A man doing a dips vs close grip bench press comparison to show the differences

Even though this is ultimately a head-to-head comparison, you don’t have to choose between dips or the close grip bench press; you can do both exercises.

For example, you could do heavy close grip bench presses followed by lighter bar dips (perhaps just with your body weight).

On the other hand, you could train both exercises heavy but on different days of the week. This means that the movements won’t interfere with each other like they would if you performed them back-to-back during the same workout.

Dips vs close grip bench press: The verdict

A man showing that you can do dips or close grip bench press for triceps strength

While both dips and the close grip bench press are great exercises for building triceps mass, if I could only do one exercise, it’d definitely be the close grip bench press.

The close grip bench has a lower barrier to entry than bar dips, meaning that it’s a suitable exercise for just about anyone.

Also, since the CGBP requires less core stability than dips, you’ll likely be able to establish a stronger mind-muscle connection with your triceps, which is important if you’re training for mass.

Additionally, if your gym has parallel bars that are fixed and too wide, it can be difficult to keep the focus of your dips on your triceps.

I hope that you found my close grip bench press vs dips comparison useful. You can definitely do both exercises, but neither is mandatory for making gains.

References

  1. MasterClass. (2021, April 16). Bench Dip Exercise Guide: How to Master Bench Dips. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/bench-dip-exercise-guide
  2. Harris-Fry, N. (2021a, December 4). How To Do The Close-Grip Bench Press. Coachmaguk. https://www.coachmag.co.uk/triceps-exercises/7483/how-to-do-the-close-grip-bench-press
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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