Wellness Warrior

What Muscles Do Dips Work The Most When Working Out?

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as perfectly toned arms when summer rolls around, am I right? Well, to get those perfectly toned arms you need to do quite a few exercises for your arms and dips are a great place to start. I love a good arm workout but I won’t beat around the bush when I tell you that dips are tough but well worth it! Like a lot of other exercises, dips are a compound exercise and it’s good to know exactly what muscles do dips work.

what muscles do dips work

What muscles do dips work during your workout?

Before we get into it, it’s important to know that dips often get referred to as tricep dips and can be done anywhere and pretty much on any raised surface. You can adjust most exercises used in a gym to a home workout environment and they are just as effective.

1. Triceps.

The triceps are the biggest player when it comes to doing dips and that’s why they are most commonly known as tricep dips. The triceps are the muscles located on the back of your arms. As you lower your body during a dip, the triceps work to extend the elbow joint, taking on most of the weight. When it comes to building toned arms, your triceps are usually the first sign of lean muscle you would look out for. I always feel so proud when I look down and see lean-cut muscles on my arms. (Not that they always stay there, I am a mom of two you know. Two pregnancies and being a parent can make staying fit quite hard.)

2. Chest (Pectorals).

When I first started working out I had no idea what compound exercises were and that most exercises target multiple muscle groups during a single exercise. Little did I know that dips were one of them! The leaning position puts strain on your chest, forcing those muscles to activate and get their part of the workout too. When I do dips I have significant stiffness in my chest the following day. Depending on your fitness level, the effect that a single exercise can have on other muscles in a compound exercise might not be as visible to you as it might be to others.

RELATED: 9 Stretches For Your Chest For Improved Mobility.

3. Shoulders (Deltoids).

While this one wouldn’t come as too much of a shock, your shoulders play a major role when you are doing dips. As you lower and lift your body, the deltoids are engaged to stabilize and control the shoulder joint. Dips are especially effective in targeting the lower fibers of the anterior deltoids, giving you a well-rounded shoulder workout.

If you have any previous shoulder injuries it would be best to do any type of dips assisted rather than causing another injury due to all the strain dips put on your shoulders.

shoulder muscles

4. Rhomboids and Lats.

While these muscles might not be as obvious as the others. Your back in general gets a pretty good workout along the way. While dips primarily focus on the pushing muscles, they also engage the muscles of the upper back to a certain extent. The rhomboids and lats work together to stabilize the scapula and maintain proper posture during the dip movement. Your muscles always work together to ensure you keep a balance and no muscle has to over-compensate for another. Amazing right? How everything just works together without us having to take any note of it.

5. Serratus Anterior.

These muscles are also commonly known as “Boxers Muscles” because they are mainly used to throw a punch. This muscle helps in protracting and retracting the scapula, giving you a smooth and controlled motion during dips. These are also the muscles responsible for giving you the definition between your chest and ribcage.

Types of dips you can do.

Different types of dips can focus on different muscle groups making them an extremely versatile exercise. Depending on your fitness level they are easily adaptable and can be done almost anywhere depending on the type.

  • Parallel Bar Dips: Classic dips that can easily be adjusted according to fitness level. Works triceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Ring Dips: Adding rings creates instability and core engagement. Works triceps, chest, shoulders, and core.
  • Bench Dips: Beginner-friendly dips, suitable for home workouts. Works triceps, chest, and shoulders.
  • Weighted Dips: Added resistance for gaining strength and muscle. Works triceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Chest Dip: Emphasize chest activation with a forward lean. Works chest, triceps, and shoulders.
  • Triceps Dips: Isolate triceps with an upright torso. Works triceps, chest, and shoulders.
  • L-Sit Dips: Combines a dip motion with an L-sit for core engagement. Works Triceps and lower abdominals.
  • Assisted Dips: For beginners or when injuries have occurred. Works triceps, chest, and shoulders.
  • Korean Dips: Forward-leaning motion with straight legs. Works lower chest, triceps, and shoulders.
  • Plyometric Dips: Adds an explosive element for power and calorie burn. Works triceps, chest, and shoulders.
types of dips

RELATED: 9 Exercises You Can Do In Bed.


Adding dips into your workout routine is a good move for anyone looking to build upper body strength, muscle mass, and aesthetic appeal. By targeting the triceps, chest, shoulders, and upper back, dips offer a comprehensive workout that can be customized to different fitness levels. Make sure to always perform dips with proper form and gradually increase the intensity to avoid strain or injury. While they might be a terrifying task to take on from time to time, in the end, they are so worth it.

Happy dipping,

Your Wellness Warrior!

3 thoughts on “What Muscles Do Dips Work The Most When Working Out?”

  1. Thanks for explaining everything so clearly. I really should try dips as I know I don’t work out my chest muscles enough!

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