Dips build mass in the upper body and strengthen those muscles using your body weight.

So what happens if you can't do them in your home gym? 

As they're an incredibly powerful exercise for any fitness level, you don't want to miss out on the benefits that the chest dip brings to your overall fitness. 

To help you out I've put together a comprehensive guide that lists 14 of the best chest dips alternatives around and how to do them. 

Once you've discovered these alternatives your chest and triceps can continue to progress without the chest dip. 

Pretty cool, huh?

Check them out and start adding a few into your workout routine.

If you can’t do chest dips due to a lack of equipment or certain physical limitations, there are alternative dip exercises that will give you identical or similar benefits.

1. Decline Bench Press

Man Doing Decline Bench Press Exercise In The Gym

To target the lower pectoral muscles, try this inverted version of a typical bench press. It decreases strain on your shoulders and back while transferring that extra effort to the lower chest.

I've always found that my clients can lift more weight using this variation of the bench press. Plus, it's an excellent substitute for chest dips as it hits all the same muscles (chest, triceps, and shoulders).

However, I do recommend using a spotter for this exercise, you don't want to get stuck under a loaded barbell on a decline bench press. If you don't have the necessary equipment or find this exercise challenging, try out decline bench press alternative exercises.


  • Develops your lower pecs.
  • You can lift more weight compared to regular bench press.

How to do it:

  1. Set your bench in a decline position so that your head will be near the floor with your legs elevated.
  2. With feet secured and the barbell overhead at eye level, reach up and grip the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
  3. Lift the bar, keeping elbows locked, and slowly lower the bar to your chest with your elbows now angled away from the body at 45-degree angles.
  4. Push the barbell away from your chest (squeezing your chest muscles).
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • For this exercise, focus on bringing the bar towards the bottom of your chest and explode upwards using your full range of motion. Use a spotter for more controlled and safe lifting.  

2. Lying Down Tricep Extension

Man Doing Lying Down Tricep Extensions

This chest dip alternative isolates your triceps, working them through a wide range of motion. It's a fairly simple movement which doesn't require a lot of weight, making it ideal for all ability levels. 

You can perform this movement using two dumbbells or one. I'm a big fan of uni lateral training, so I often perform this substitute for chest dips using one arm at a time. 

By working one side at a time, you eliminate muscular imbalances (it can happen to use all). 


  • Helps fix muscular imbalances.
  • Isolates your triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in your hand. 
  2. Lift the dumbbell above your chest with your arm straight. 
  3. Lower the dumbbell past the side of your head (thumb pointing to the floor). Stop at the bottom when your tricep is fully stretched. 
  4. Push the dumbbell upward back to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat and complete your set. 

This movement is also a great alternative to barbell rows!

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Make sure your elbow is pointing to the sky at the bottom of the movement. This will increase triceps activation throughout the movement. 

3. Pec Flys (Chest Dips Alternative With Dumbbells)

Man Doing Pec Flys With Dumbbells

Also known as a dumbbell chest fly, this exercise targets the pectoralis muscles and can quickly add strength and definition to the upper chest.

This substitute for chest dips isolates your chest muscles while working them through a large range of motion. As your chest muscles stretch you'll feel one hell of a burn in your pecs. 

Who needs chest dips, when you've got this alternative in your workout?

Best of all, it's not difficult and it can be performed by all ability levels. 


  • Works your chest through a wide range of motion.
  • Isolates your chest muscles.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on a flat bench facing the ceiling.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  3. Lift the weights directly over your chest. 
  4. Your arms should be extended upward completely, but without locked elbows (keep them bent just a bit).
  5. Slowly lower your arms out to either side, stopping at your shoulder level.
  6. Bring the weights back up over your chest, but rely more on your chest muscles than the arms.
  7. At the top, focus on squeezing the pectoralis muscles together briefly, then release.
  8. Lower the dumbbells out to the side again and repeat the exercise.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • This is an exercise where you'll want to avoid going too heavy. Grab some lighter dumbbells and focus on slowly lowering them until you feel a stretch in your chest. It can be a bit tough on the shoulder joints, so if you feel any pain, consider choosing a chest fly alternative. 

4. Push Up (Chest Dips Alternative For At-Home)

Man Doing Push Ups In The Gym

This classic move may not be too exciting, but its simplicity is exactly how it became a staple in the fitness world.

Your pecs, several shoulder muscles, and triceps all see significant activity during push-ups, and the stabilizers in your back and core get a boost, as well.

I love the push-up as it can easily be modified to make it easier or more difficult depending on your needs. 

  • To make it tougher, elevate your feet. 
  • To make it easier, raise your hands or put your knees on the floor. 

Try it out, I'm sure you'll love it.


  • Can be performed anywhere. 
  • Uses your body weight.
  • Suitable for all abilities.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a plank position: palms on the floor (you can use a mat for comfort) with your hands under your shoulders and your legs straight behind you. Make sure your core is engaged so that you maintain proper form during the exercise.
  2. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor. Do not lie down, bend or curve the back, or lower your knees to the mat.
  3. Using your arms and chest push yourself back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat. 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Don't underestimate the power of bodyweight movements such as this one. They help strengthen joints, insertions, and build overall functional fitness.

Further Reading - Push Ups Vs Bench Press

5. Close Grip Bench Press

Man Doing Close Grip Bench Press

As its name implies, this bench press requires a narrower grip on the barbell than you might normally use.

By shifting your hands closer together, you work out your triceps more heavily than the pectoralis muscles. A spotter is recommended for this chest dip alternative.


  • Emphasizes your triceps.
  • You can overload your triceps.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on a flat bench, facing the ceiling, and grip the barbell with hands at shoulder width or a little bit closer.
  2. Lift the bar, keeping your core engaged and shoulders together.
  3. Lower the bar to your chest slowly, keeping your elbows tucked in to your sides.
  4. Push the barbell upwards using your triceps.
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • One important thing to remember for this lift is to ensure you don't tuck your elbows too close to your body. They should not be touching your sides when you lower the bar. 

6. Bench Dips

Man Doing Bench Dips

While the chest dips are performed on a machine or parallel bars, the bench dip uses... you guessed it, a bench. 

The bench dips is a great chest dip substitute which shifts the focus onto your triceps. I often add this exercise near the end of my chest and triceps workout to give my arms some extra volume and a great pump. 

You can do this exercise almost anywhere using bed frames, chairs, park benches, bath tubs, stairs, and more. 

One thing to note is that they can place stress on your shoulders and wrists. I've had a few clients mention this to me in the past. 


  • Triceps focused. 
  • Uses your body weight.
  • You can do them anywhere, even hotel rooms.

How to Do It:

  1. Sit on a bench (or elevated platform). 
  2. Place your feet out straight in front of your body. 
  3. Put your hands on the edge of the bench just outside of your hips. Your fingers should be facing outwards. 
  4. Lift your body weight using your arms. 
  5. Lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows to 90-degrees.
  6. Push upwards to complete your rep. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • Struggling with this movement? Move your feet closer to your body to remove some of your body weight from your arms.

7. Cable Machine Tricep Pushdown

Man Doing Cable Machine Tricep Pushdown Exercise

This substitute for chest dips isolates the triceps and is an incredibly simple, yet effective movement suitable for all ability levels. Best of all, you don't need to lift a ton of weight for it to work.  

If you don't have access to a cable machine, it can be swapped for a resistance band wrapped around a secure anchor point. 


  • Isolates your triceps.
  • Suitable for all abilities.

How to do it:

  1. Facing a cable machine with the bar at your chest, grab it with your palms facing downward, hands shoulder-width, and brace your abdominals.
  2. Tuck your elbows into your sides.
  3. Bending only at your elbows, push the bar down, bringing it toward your hips.
  4. Slowly bring the bar back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You can do tricep pushdowns with many different attachments, such as ropes, EZ curl bars, and straight bars, so try to mix it up to add some variety to your workout. 

8. Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks

Man Doing Triceps Dumbbell Kickback In The Gym

If you want to isolate your triceps, the dumbbell kickback is an excellent substitute for chest dips. It’s simple enough for beginners, yet adaptable, so any fitness level can adjust the weight or reps and see results. 

This exercise was one chest dip alternative was one of the very first exercises I performed as a teenager, and it helped me fill out my t shirt. 


  • Doesn't require a lot of weight.
  • Easy for beginners to learn.
  • Isolates the triceps.

how to do it:

  1. With your knees bent and feet close together, hold a dumbbell in each hand and lean forward a bit, back straight.
  2. Bend your elbows, lining up the upper arms with the back so that your biceps point towards the floor.
  3. Lift the dumbbells backward, straightening your arm without moving your triceps.
  4. Focus on moving only your elbow joint, as this motion engages the triceps despite it remaining motionless.
  5. Slowly bring the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • This is another movement that I don't recommend going too heavy on. You want to isolate the tricep heads to ensure max results.  

9. Dumbbell Hex Press

Man Doing Dumbbell Hex Press on a Bench Press at the Gym

A hex press targets the chest while reducing strain in the shoulder area compared to other press exercises. 

During this substitute for dips, your triceps activation is increased due to your elbow position being closer to the body. This allows you to develop stronger and more defined triceps, giving you bigger arms in the process. 

Who doesn't want an impressive set of arms, right?

One thing I must mention is that while it does remove stress from your shoulders, I found it places more force through your wrists. This shouldn't be an issue if you keep your wrists straight and use the correct form. 

How To Do It:

  1. Lie down on a flat bench and hold a dumbbell in each hand, with palms facing inward.
  2. Lift and press the dumbbells together over your chest.
  3. While maintaining that contact, slowly bring the dumbbells to your chest. Your arms should create a sort of triangle shape while you do this.
  4. At your chest, pause for a bit and then lift the weights again, squeezing your pectorals once your arms are back overhead.
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • You will likely be able to lift more weight compared to a normal dumbbell press. Remember to maintain good form even if you're lifting heavier than normal. 

10. Ring Or Straps Chest Press

Man Doing Straps Chest Press Exercise

Also known as a suspended chest press, this exercise mimics the motions of a chest dip or parallel bar dip. Besides the shoulders and chest, it also targets your core heavily.

This is a challenging movement, however you can adjust the difficulty by moving your feet. The more upright you are the easier it will be. 

I rarely use this movement with my clients unless they've developed base strength by performing other exercises.

Try it out, but if it's too difficult, use another exercise in it's place like the dumbbell hex press or diamond push up. 


  • Uses your body weight. 
  • You can do them almost anywhere.
  • Minimal equipment required.

how to do it:

  1. Grab the handles of your straps with the anchor point behind you.
  2. Keep arms straight and the handles at your shoulders.
  3. Lower yourself slowly until your chest meets your hands, as though doing a push-up. Be sure to keep your elbows level with the shoulders.
  4. Raise yourself back up by pushing your body upwards squeezing your triceps and chest.
  5. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • To make this exercise harder, simply move your feet closer to the anchor point. To make it easier, just move your feet further away from the anchor point (bringing your body closer to the floor).

11. Plate Pinch Press 

Man Doing Plate Pinch Press Exercise In The Gym

A plate pinch press, also called a Svend pressis an excellent chest exercise targeting the upper and lower chest muscles. This exercise is perfect for adding to the end of your workout in order to obtain a solid pump. 

It's ideal for those looking to increase muscle mass without overloading the triceps or shoulders. Additionally, the light weight used makes it suitable for injury rehab too.


  • Suitable for all abilities.
  • Great for injury rehab.

How to do it:

  1. Stand up straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees unlocked.
  2. Select two lightweight plates (either two 5-pound plates or two 10-pound plates) and position them in between your hands. Your palms should be facing in, at around chest height, with your fingers pointing forward.
  3. Extend your arms forward, squeezing the weight plates together.
  4. Keep your arms up as you extend, ensuring your hands are at shoulder height when fully extended.
  5. Bring your hands back in toward your chest to complete the rep.
  6. Repeat. 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • This is a great chest accessory movement. I recommend doing these reps slowly and try to squeeze your chest the entire time to exhaust your muscle fibers. 

12. Cable Chest Flys 

Man Doing Cable Chest Flys At The Gym

If you’re looking for a machine-based chest dip alternative, cable chest flys are an excellent choice. This exercise is ideal for building the pecs without placing significant strain on the shoulder or elbow joints.

You can target either the upper, the lower, or the mid-portion of your pec muscles by simply adjusting the anchor point of the cable.

A low anchor will work the upper chest, while a high anchor point will work the lower chest. Placing the anchor in the middle targets your mid-chest.


  • Doesn't need a lot of weight. 
  • Fully adjustable, targeting specific areas of the pecs.

how to do it:

  1. Starting with a low anchor point, grab the handles with your arms out at around a 15 to 30-degree angle.
  2. Take one or two steps forward until you feel a stretch in your pecs.
  3. Stagger your feet, but maintain a hip-width stance for stability. 
  4. Retract your shoulder blades as you would do for a bench press.
  5. Pull the cables upwards, internally rotating your arms to where your thumbs are touching at the top of the movement.
  6. In a slow and controlled motion, reverse the movement while externally rotating your hands back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat

Tips From A Trainer!

  • One of my favorite ways to utilize this movement is to turn it into a super tri-set. Start with the anchor point at the lowest setting and complete 5 reps. Immediately after, move the anchor point to the middle for another 5 reps. Finish it off by moving the anchor point to the top and completing 5 more reps.  

13. Banded Chest Press 

Man Doing Banded Chest Press Exercise

One of Sylvester Stallone's favorite ways to work out is to use resistance bands rather than weights. The banded chest press is similar to a standard dumbbell or barbell chest press, except that it’s performed in an upright standing position.[1]

This alternative exercise is ideal for people with a back injury who aren’t able to lay down and is also an excellent rehab exercise for the shoulders.

Since a banded chest press is non-fatiguing, you can add it to the end of your workout and aim for high reps.


  • Great if you're travelling or on the move.
  • You can do them almost anywhere.

How to do it:

  1. Attach the resistance bands to a secure anchor point.
  2. Facing outward, grip the band/handles in each hand and position the straps around chest height.
  3. Ensure that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle, with both your upper and lower arms parallel to the floor.
  4. Take one or two steps forward until you feel resistance and position your feet in a staggered stance.
  5. Press your arms forward, extending them straight in front of you.
  6. In a slow and controlled manner, reverse the movement back to the starting position. 
  7. Repeat.

Tips From A Trainer!

  • If it's good enough for Stallone, it's good enough for me! To make this movement a little harder, try a thicker resistance band. If you don't have one, try doubling up the band and exercising one side at a time. 

14. Diamond Push-Ups 

Man Doing Diamond Push Ups

Diamond push-ups, also known as triangle push-ups, are an advanced version of the traditional push-up that bring with them a host of diamond push-up benefits.

This chest dip alternative exercise primarily targets your triceps and works your pecs and deltoids.

They're an excellent close grip bench press alternative that you can perform pretty much anywhere. All you need is your body weight and some space. 

Who needs close grip bench press, right?


  • Uses body weight. 
  • Doesn't require much space.
  • Develops your pecs, triceps, and delts.

How to do it:

  1. Assume a push-up position on the floor.
  2. Bring your hands together, forming a diamond/triangle shape with your thumb and index fingers.
  3. Position the diamond in such a way that it will meet the center of your chest at the bottom of the push-up.
  4. Keeping a straight back with knees locked. Ensure that your hips don’t dip and that you pull your elbows in as you descend down into the push-up.
  5. Once at the bottom, push your body upward back to the starting position. 
  6. Repeat. 

Tips From A Trainer!

  • For an intense HIIT bodyweight session, try adding burpees to each diamond push up rep. Trust me, you'll be feeling the burn. 

Benefits Of Doing Regular Chest Dips

Chest dips allow you to target your chest and triceps very precisely compared to other exercises. To perform a chest dip, you lower (dip) yourself between two parallel bars or the handles of a dip station. Variations with benches or chairs are also an option.

Some people secure extra weight to their bodies, increasing the exercise's effectiveness and providing a greater challenge. Others prefer their own weight and nothing else. If you are new to dips, start with your own weight and increase your reps, rather than rushing to add extra weight. This can cause improper form and injury.

On a dip machine, the principle is similar, but you sit or kneel on a bench instead. The machine can be adjusted so that you lift more or less of your own body weight, as is appropriate for your preference and fitness level.

Anyone looking to build more upper body strength will benefit from chest dips, whether you aim to build mass and sculpt your muscles significantly or increase your strength overall.

What Muscles Do Chest Dips And Substitute Exercises Work?

  • Triceps Brachii
    These muscles run down the back of your upper arm’s longest bone, and toning them can fix the “flabby arms” look many people struggle with. Beyond aesthetics, however, these muscles also assist in stabilizing the elbow and shoulder.
  • Pectoralis
    Both the pectoralis major and minor muscle groups are targeted during chest dip and similar exercises. Strengthening these can dramatically sculpt the chest and improve forward arm rotation.
  • Rhomboids
    The rhomboids, located in the upper back, assist in pulling your shoulder blades together and stabilizing the shoulders. If your shoulders are prone to pops or pain, or if you frequently get “knots” in the upper back, chest dips can help by targeting the rhomboids.
  • Levator Scapulae
    Although considered an upper back muscle, the levator scapulae runs from the shoulders to the neck.[2] Tightness or weakness in this area can result in shoulder blade or neck pain and may even cause frequent headaches.
  • Latissimus Dorsi
    As one of the largest back muscles, the latissimus dorsi is what allows us to move our shoulders away from the body. It also accommodates the spine so that we can reach overhead for things out of our normal reach.[3]
  • Teres Major
    Another shoulder muscle, the teres major assists other muscles in providing a wider and stabilized range of motion in the arms. It allows us to extend our arm even while it’s flexed, which is why chest dips are so great at activating it.

Chest Dips Vs Tricep Dips (How They Differ)

Understanding the differences between chest dips and tricep dips will help to ensure a more effective workout. Starting with equipment, both exercises require a dip rack or parallel bars.

For a chest dip, you’ll use a wide grip in order to target your chest muscles more. Your legs should be curled in behind you, and you should lean forward slightly, dipping down as far as your shoulder flexibility allows.  

For a tricep dip, you’ll instead use a shoulder-width grip in order to isolate your triceps more. For this exercise, you won’t bend your knees as much.

Instead, you’ll keep your feet together and positioned more below your body rather than behind. When doing tricep dips, focus on keeping your head and chest up, with your elbows kept close toward your body throughout the movement.  

Although a chest dip primarily targets all three sections of the pectoralis major muscle, it also works your triceps too. Additional muscles worked include the delts, pectoralis minor, lats, rhomboids, levator scapulae, and the teres major.

Similarly, tricep dips mostly target your triceps brachii muscle, but also work your pec muscles too. Added to this, tricep dips work the traps, delts, rhomboids, levator scapulae, and serratus anterior muscles as well.  

Downsides Of Regular Chest Dips

The downside of regular chest dips is that they require you to lean forward in order to target the pec muscles more.

If you’re not properly warmed up, or you just haven’t built up enough shoulder strength, this can place significant strain on your shoulders and lead to possible injury.

Conversely, many people make the mistake of not leaning forward enough. Staying too upright not only removes the focus on the pecs and places it onto the triceps more, but it also causes added strain to the shoulder joint as well.  

Another common error made when doing chest dips is to have anterior tilting of the scapula. You should always pull your shoulder blades back and tuck them down before performing the dip, just like you would when doing a bench press.

Not doing this is what causes many people to have shoulder pain after doing chest dips. Before starting with weighted chest dips, it’s important that you master the correct form before beefing up your workout with extra weight. 

How To Safely Perform These Exercises (Beginners Guide)

If you don’t have access to a dip machine, you can still perform chest dips using various everyday items. The key is to maintain proper form so the exercise is effective, and so you don’t injure yourself.

Check our article where we guide you how to use a dip belt.


Chair exercises are great for home workouts. There are two main ways to use chairs or stools for chest dips. You can use one chair behind yourself, or two on either side (mimicking parallel bars). 

Before you begin, make sure the chair is stable and capable of supporting not only your weight but the intended movement as well. Some chairs may slide or tip when weight is distributed to a certain point versus the entire seat.

To use one chair, stand in front of it and bend down, then plant your palms on the seat while your legs are straight out in front. Alternatively, you can bend your knees as if sitting. Slowly lower yourself, then raise yourself again. Repeat.

If using two chairs, you can either perform the same exercise as above, but with your feet on the second chair (dipping yourself between the two seats), or use the backs or seats of the chairs as parallel bars, with one hand on each.

Kitchen Counters

Face the corner where two kitchen countertops meet, one hand on each side. Lift yourself up, then slowly lower yourself back down. You can also do chest dips against a straight section of countertop for more of a challenge.

Back Of The Couch

If the back of your couch isn’t too broad, you can grip it and more effectively lower yourself into dips than when using countertops or other flat surfaces.

Playground Bars

Several playgrounds have parallel bars installed, along with monkey bars or other play structures you might be able to use for dips. What’s more, they should be able to withstand adult bodyweight better than home playground structures.

Several public parks offer interactive trails. These walking and hiking trails have exercise stations intermittently along the path, where you can find bars and benches to perform dips during a walking or running routine.

Common Chest Dips Questions

Can I do chest dips or alternative exercises every day?

Yes you can do chest dips every day, but it’s better to give yourself rest days between the same muscle group, so try every other day for chest dips at most. 

Are dips and push ups enough for the chest?

Yes, dips and push ups are enough for your chest, so long as you use proper form. Keep in mind that you’ll need to increase your weight or reps (or both) to see continual progress, after a point.

Do dips build the upper chest?

No, dips don't specifically build the upper chest. Dips are effective exercises to build muscle strength and mass in the chest overall.

How do you target your upper chest?

You can target the upper chest by performing upper chest dips, incline bench press movements, incline flies, reverse grip dumbbell press, and more. 


There are many ways that you can perform chest dips, you can use a dip machine, parallel bars, home dip bars, or even household items like chairs or couches. 

Additionally, alternative exercises with dumbbells or resistance bands can target the same muscle groups.

When performing chest dips and the alternatives on this list, proper form is a must. This ensures all the target muscles get a safe and effective workout while reducing your risk of strain or injury.

Choose 2-3 of the chest dip alternatives from the list above and add them to your workout. Your chest and triceps will thank you for it.





Lee Kirwin

Lee Kirwin

Lee has worked in the fitness industry for over 15 years. He's trained hundreds of clients and knows his way around the gym, including what you need for your garage gym. When he's not testing products, he loves weightlifting, Ju Jitsu, writing, and gaming.