Are Bench Dips Better Than Parallel Bar Dips?

bench dip
April 3, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are bench dips better than parallel bar dips”. Both dipping exercises are great for building bigger and stronger triceps.

The parallel bar dip also recruits other muscles such as the pectorals more heavily. Both exercises are effective and both have some safety concerns.

This article will be informative and explore this topic in a lot of detail. 

Are Bench Dips Better Than Parallel Bar Dips?

Overall, I would say that parallel bar dips are better than bench dips. This is if you take everything into consideration. Parallel bar dips have a much higher loading potential and are a lot safer to load heavy.

Bar dips and bench dips can both cause shoulder discomfort but there are ways to reduce the risks of shoulder injuries. The parallel bar dip will carry over a lot more effectively to big compound exercises such as the bench press.

Bench dips when done with the shoulder externally rotated can be safe and can be very good at isolating the triceps. The triceps have to work very hard and you can build very thick triceps with this exercise.
bench dip

Parallel Bar Dips Have Better Loading Potential

The main reason why parallel bar dips are superior comes down to the loading potential. With the use of a dipping belt you can load this exercise incredibly heavy and quite safely.

Bench dips on the other hand are cumbersome to load heavy and it can be uncomfortable having lots of weight on your lap. In most cases, you would need a partner to help you load and unload the weight.

Parallel bar dips are a convenient exercise that can be done without the assistance of anyone else. You can apply progressive overload safely and this exercise will transfer a lot better to your bench press.

Bench Dips Are More Stressful On The Shoulder

Overall, bench dips are slightly more stressful on the shoulder than parallel bar dips. This is for a few reasons – firstly bench dips involve having your arms and hands behind your back.

This is not the safest position for your shoulders to be in. In addition, the way many people do bench dips involves the shoulder jutting forward with internal rotation when lowering down.

This further compromises the integrity of the shoulder joint. A remedy to this problem would be to do bench dips with your shoulders in external rotation. This can be achieved by keeping your hands angled outward on the bench.

In this way the exercise will be slightly safer for the shoulders. Parallel bar dips involve your arms being at your side and don’t typically cause as much discomfort. 

Having said this, some people do experience shoulder pain with the parallel bar dip. You have to listen to your body when doing these dipping exercises and assess how your body responds to the exercise.

If an exercise doesn’t feel good even after making alterations, it is best to avoid it. Athlean-X also prescribes the same approach for making the bench dip slightly safer.

Parallel Bar Dips Have Big Carryover

Another advantage of parallel bar dips is that they have a higher carryover to the bench press and other pressing movements. You should only perform the bar dip if you can do so without pain. 

Many big bench pressers like Eric Spoto advocate the use of the parallel bar dip to build bigger triceps and more pressing power. Eric stated himself that he found the dip to really help build his bench press up.

In addition, the parallel bar dip involves the pectoral muscles a lot more than the bench dip. So your body can work more as a unit and your pecs will get bigger and stronger as well.

This is especially true if you lean over more on the bar dip. By doing so you will engage more muscle mass and bring your chest into the movement to a greater degree.

Bench Dips Can Build Meaty Triceps

Bench dips are an old school exercise but they can build very meaty triceps. The triceps have to work very hard on this exercise, especially when you do them weighted.

You are also in a more stable position on the bench dip than you are when doing parallel bar dips. This helps you to isolate the triceps even better on the bench dip.

This is something to consider, you may want to rotate between bench dips and bar dips in your training to get the best of both worlds.

Final Thoughts

Are bench dips better than parallel bar dips? Overall, parallel bar dips are the superior exercise. This is due to the sheer loading potential and carryover they have to the bench press.

Bench dips also have their place though. When done properly with the shoulders in external rotation, bench dips can really make your triceps blow up. They isolate the triceps really well as there is less core stabilisation involved with the bench dip.

You may choose to incorporate both exercises into your training, it is a personal choice. If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below.

As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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