Skip to Content

Wide vs Narrow Dips (For Building Chest And Triceps!)

If you’re looking for a wide vs narrow dips comparison guide, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we compare wide and narrow dips in terms of which muscles they target most, their difficulty level, and some safety considerations when doing each exercise.

topless man doing dips outside

What’s The Difference Between Wide And Narrow Dips?

The main difference between wide and narrow dips is how wide the bars are on the dip machine.

Wide dips are done on a dip machine where the bars are wider than shoulder width and narrow dips are done on a dip machine where the bars are shoulder width or narrower.

Also, when doing wide dips, you should lean forward as far as you can, whereas you shouldn’t lean forward as much with narrow dips.

Apart from that, the exercise is very similar.

Wide vs Narrow Dips: For Chest

Just like with any pressing exercise, whether it be bench press, push-ups, or dips, the wider variation targets your chest more than the narrower variation.

So, if you want to target your chest more, then wide dips are a more suitable exercise.

Your chest still activates during narrow dips, but not as much as during wide dips.

For even more chest activation, you should:

  • Lean forwards when doing the movement.
  • Tuck your chin onto your chest.
  • Keep a slight bend in your elbows at the top of the movement and DON’T lock out .

Mind-to-muscle connection is important too.

Rather than thinking of moving from point A to point B, you should focus on squeezing your pectoral muscles as you push upwards and feel your chest being stretched on the eccentric part of the movement.

Wide vs Narrow Dips: For Triceps

Close-grip bench press and narrow push-ups are better at targeting your triceps, so it makes sense that narrow dips are more triceps-focused too.

While wide dips still work your triceps, they’re mainly used as secondary muscles.

To focus even more on your triceps during narrow dips, you should:

  • Maintain a more upright posture.
  • Keep your elbows pointing straight back during the movement.
  • Tuck your elbows close to your body.

Like with wide dips, mind-to-muscle plays an important role in the exercise.

Instead of simply pushing yourself up and down, push up as hard as you can at the lowest point of the movement and really feel your triceps extending as you descend.

Are Wide Dips Harder Than Narrow Dips?

This depends on how you assess the difficulty level of the exercise.

As your chest is a bigger muscle than your triceps, you could argue that wide dips are easier because you’re focusing on a bigger, stronger muscle, so it makes sense that you’d be able to do more reps with wide dips.

However, wide dips typically put more strain on your wrists and shoulders.

As a result, you may find narrow dips easier as your wrists and shoulders are in a more natural position so they’re less likely to fail before the working muscles do.

That being said, both wide and narrow dips are challenging exercises, and you’ll need a lot of upper body strength to be able to do a decent number of reps without machine assistance.

Safety Considerations When Doing Wide And Narrow Dips

Both wide and narrow dips are safe exercises, but there are a few things to keep in mind to reduce the risk of injury.

Firstly, like with any exercise, you should ensure that the working muscles are sufficiently warmed up.

If you’re doing wide dips, then a few sets of regular push-ups will help warm up the pecs.

Whereas if you’re doing narrow dips, then you should do a few sets of narrow push-ups to get your triceps ready for the exercise.

Secondly, you should maintain the correct posture and technique for both exercises.

Any errors in technique can significantly increase the risk of injury, so the importance of this cannot be understated.

I also recommend warming up your rotator cuffs and wrist flexors before doing any variation of dips, as these can take a beating from the exercise.

If you do feel any sharp or significant pain during the exercise, then you may have picked up an injury. In which case, you should stop working out and seek advice from your medical professional who will advise the best course of action.

Wide vs Narrow Dips: Which Exercise Is Best?

Both wide and narrow dips are great upper body building exercises.

Deciding which one is best for you will likely come down to your fitness goals and personal preferences.

If you want an exercise that targets your triceps more and puts less stress and your wrists and shoulders, then narrow dips might be the better option.

However, if you want to build your chest more, then it makes sense to focus on wide dips.

Hope this helped!