I am currently trying to progress on both the hundred push ups and the one fifty dips programs.

I cannot do them on the same day of course, they both put a huge strain on my triceps. And while reading some other question on this site I stumbled across a link saying:

If you are doing more than 15 Push-ups per set, you should definitely be doing Dips. The Push-up is only really included as an alternative for people who lack the upper body strength to do 3 sets of Dips, so the goal is definitely to move away from them.

I wonder if this is true in for my case or only in relation to the proposed program behind that link.

My goal is to achieve upper body strength (strength-endurance mainly), not to complete one or both of the programs. I only use them as some means of progression, I do other exercises besides them for other muscle groups. My question really only is about dips vs push ups.

My questions are: What is the real difference between dips and push ups?
Under which circumstances should I choose which exercise?
What would be an effective method to combine both of my programs? (eg one week dips, one week push ups)

  • 1
    The 150 dips definition of dips is different than the definition of dips that the majority of people I know use. "Dips" means parallel bars and 100% of your weight, not a bench behind you with half your weight. Oct 28, 2012 at 17:40
  • Good hint, although the muscle groups worked out with triceps dips or bench dips with bent knees seem to be the same.
    – Baarn
    Oct 28, 2012 at 17:51
  • Same muscles, dramatically different resistance. Real dips are just plain more. Oct 28, 2012 at 17:56
  • Dips are the upper-body's squats. That says it all.
    – Danny
    Oct 29, 2012 at 8:19
  • The hip joint is so dramatically different from the shoulder joint, I doubt you'd train them the same way. Heck, even the hamstrings are not "thigh biceps", and leg curls aren't the best way to train them. Go with anatomy, not analogy.
    – Noumenon
    Feb 6, 2015 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


Throughout, I will refer to actual dips, not bench dips.

What is the real difference between dips and push ups?

First of all, dips are harder than push-ups. Good. That means they're better at making you stronger. That's why the "Average F'ing Program" you link to advises people to switch to dips as soon as possible. It's a strength program, after all. You do a small number of mostly barbell exercises, nearly as heavy as possible for 3 sets of 5 reps, and you increase the weight every workout. People get stronger on these programs, very efficiently and very quickly. Push-ups get you stronger, but not as quickly or efficiently or as much. Dips are plain harder, and therefore more productive. They're only included as an assistance exercise for pressing strength. (And regardless, the overhead press and the bench are responsible for the vast majority of strength increases; push-ups and dips are a way to do something like those two exercises, but not spend a lot of energy on it.)

Under which circumstances should I choose which exercise?

You should choose dips over push-ups when you want a harder exercise that builds strength more effectively. Push-ups require less equipment, which is nice. They're also easier to do a lot of volume with, so that can make them better for non-strength workouts.

What would be an effective method to combine both of my programs?

I'm not a fan of the "X number of Y exercise" gimmick. 100 pushups, 150 dips, 500 sit-ups, 200 squats...all of these "programs" are just a money machine for people to buy the smartphone apps instead of getting on a real strength and conditioning program. They promote a simplistic view of exercise and encourage people into unbalanced workout routines. For instances, pushes should be balanced with pulls.

If you want to stick with these programs, I'd do pull-ups along with push-ups instead. (Then again, I have doubts that most people could get to 25 consecutive full-range-of-motion, no-kip pull-ups in the kind of time frame these programs advertise.) That would probably be better than putting two pushing programs together. Or, you could do pull-ups and (real) dips.

But more importantly, these programs aren't meant to be combined. A hundred push-ups is a fairly specific goal, and the program assumes you aren't doing another one concurrently. Maybe it'll work anyway, but I wouldn't assume it would. I'd expect to get burnt out doing so much work that overlaps.

If you're willing to branch out into other bodyweight strength and conditioning programs, I'd look to Coach Sommer or Ross Enamait. They have real strength, strength-endurance, and conditioning workouts and programs using bodyweight only.

  • Thanks for the answer, please see my edit to the question. I know that those programs are imbalanced, but the general lack of guidance for progression only with body weight exercises made them a more or less good choice anyway.
    – Baarn
    Oct 29, 2012 at 8:27
  • For bodyweight balance, try the reverse push-up or find a place you can do let-me-ups.
    – Noumenon
    Feb 6, 2015 at 12:26

Both bench dips and regular dips have a reputation for being bad for your shoulders. So if you start to feel any impingement, quit. Push-ups, on the other hand, if done as the push-up plus variant, are great for your shoulders because they train the muscles that protract your scapula like few other exercises do. (Bench press doesn't, because you pin your shoulder blades to the bench.) Dips might be harder, but there are many ways to make push-ups harder as well. Source on push-ups: T-Nation.

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