What Muscles Do Dips Work?

What muscles do dips work? I always thought they mainly worked the triceps, but recently learned the wider scope of this exercise, when I began doing them myself regularly.  I started noticing changes in the definition & size of different upper body muscles.

I’m actually doing weighted dips and increasing the intensity of each workout weekly. This article will be referring to parallel bar dips.

I’ve been doing a variety of bodyweight workouts since the pandemic hit in 2020, and they’ve changed my body and overall confidence unlike any other time of my life.

I lost 15 pounds of pure fat, all while gaining lean muscle and my jeans dropped from a 32 to a 30-inch waist.  These are things I didn’t even know were possible anymore, considering the fact that I’ve gone through so many workouts and eating routines in my life, which all gave me mediocre results.


So, there came a point in my bodyweight training, where I realized it was time to take things to another level because I had leaned down enough. I wanted to start gaining weight in the form of lean muscle. This is a matter of eating at a strategic calorie surplus while at the same time following an effective resistance training routine. So, I started doing a hybrid workout of the same workout program I’d already been following.

This hybrid workout includes dips. Well, they’re weighted dips to be specific, and I do them utilizing reverse pyramid training. I reduce the weight slightly with each new set while also increasing the reps. Reverse pyramid training is known to help you continue gaining muscle size and strength while breaking through plateaus, especially for intermediate lifters.

What I can say for sure, is since I began doing dips, my muscles are definitely changing, and I can now see gains in my arms, my shoulders, and my chest. They’re becoming more defined and it’s not just me looking in the mirror and making that determination. I got a few comments on the way my physique has gained more definition and size, shortly after having added weighted dips to my routine. I realized that it must be the recent calorie surplus combined with the new workouts.

I truly feel that the dips are one of the most powerful workouts I’ve discovered, and you can really build multiple muscles in your upper body with this one simple routine. It works your chest, triceps, and front delt amazingly well. It’s one of the best exercises in the world to build strength and muscle fast. I’ll break down the details below.



Initially, I wouldn’t have thought that dips work your chest, even though it makes perfect sense because of the motion of your body during the workout. I mean, it’s almost like a push up in midair, depending on the angle of your body. And that’s how I came to realize this.

I was doing them incorrectly at first, and within a few days of my first workout, I noticed a strange pain in my left shoulder. Immediately, I was concerned because I’ve had other injuries in the past from lifting, and it takes a long time to recover from some of them.

So, I went online and started searching for how to eliminate shoulder pains from doing dips. You should be doing dips at a slightly forward angle. Your body should NOT be completely vertical. That’s exactly what caused my pain, which lasted a few weeks, and gradually went away as I continued my dips with proper form.

So, when you do them, your chest should be just over your hands, and when you lower yourself, you’ll feel it in your chest as well. By doing this workout in this way, you’ll be helping make your chest bigger and broader, while developing more upper-body mass.


While the position on the dip bar is slightly different for targeting your chest than it is for targeting your triceps, it is a full upper body workout, and you’ll be making gains in both areas regardless of which position you use. The only difference is the angle of your body being slightly tilted more forward when focusing on your chest.

In either scenario, dips are one of the best exercises to work your triceps. What’s amazing is when you start to do them regularly, you’ll begin to notice an increase in your overall arm strength. Lean muscle will begin to show in your upper arms, as all three triceps muscles will be worked.

When you’ve got the right form, with your elbows back and your torso upright, the mass in your triceps will be built incredibly well. One of the things I noticed in the mirror only a few weeks after doing weighted dips is that my upper arms were significantly thicker than they were only a few weeks prior.


While the triceps and chest are the primary muscles worked while doing dips, shoulders and especially the front deltoids and rhomboid muscles are the next most targeted area of the body. Your front deltoids are also known as the anterior delts.

If you’re looking for a full shoulder workout, then it’s a great idea to add in another routine during your week to target your medial and posterior deltoids. The other workout I do that targets these muscles amazingly well are handstand push-ups. If you’ve got weights, you could do dumbbell presses as well.


While dips are a fantastic workout for your chest, triceps, and front deltoids, they also work your upper and lower back. The reason they’re considered one of the best upper body exercises in the world is because they develop overall upper body strength and size.

Dips work the rhomboid muscles of your back. Also, the trapezius muscle in your upper back is activated as a stabilizing muscle. So, think of it this way. Your main muscles worked while doing dips are chest, triceps, and front delts, but your lats are in the game the whole time and getting plenty of benefit from the workout.

What Muscles Do Dips Work In Summary

So, what muscles do dips work? They specifically target the following:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Back

One of the great things about dips is that you get an awesome upper body workout that develops multiple muscles in a single exercise. Dips also help you develop massive strength for other exercises such as the bench press.

I decided to write this article after realizing that dips were contributing to more lean muscle mass being added to my upper body. When I upgraded my home bodyweight workout routine to a hybrid version, one of the main changes I made was incorporating dips into my workouts.

BTW, I’m using one of my grandma’s old walkers to do my dips, and surprisingly, it works just as well as using parallel bars. It’s also more convenient than buying a bulky dip bar, since the walker folds up neatly for easy storage. Plus, my grandma’s got like 5 walkers, and my parents were going to throw this one out anyway. And one night when I was online shopping for dip bars, this light bulb went off in my head. I wonder if one of grandma’s walkers would work for dips! And it did!

If you’re looking for a powerful bodyweight workout routine, I can’t stress enough how effective the one I follow is. It has completely changed my life and my body in ways I didn’t even know possible.  Learn how far bodyweight training can take you here.

Of course, the power of this routine comes from making sure you’ve dialed in your daily calories properly.  That is the most important step to beginning any kind of body transformation.

It is how you strip off unwanted fat. When it comes to building lean muscle, the workouts themselves are absolutely killer. They are responsible for shaping and sculpting your physique proportionately with just the right amount of definition in your muscle. The combination of eating properly with a powerful resistance training program is the formula for completely transforming your body.



I hope you found this article to be informative and answered your question of what muscle does dips work. If you have any questions at all, please let me know and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks so much for reading!

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