Table of Contents
If you’re looking to build a strong, muscular chest, you don’t necessarily need a gym membership.
Bodyweight chest exercises can be just as effective as using weights, and they can be done anywhere, at any time.
Recommended Reading – 4 Easy Exercises For Low Chest Workouts To Build Strong Pecs
Developing a strong chest can help with common daily movements that involving pushing while also supporting your overall posture, and well-defined pecs also look significantly better.
Keep reading to discover some of the best bodyweight exercises for your chest workouts.
Understanding Your Chest Muscles
To give your chest muscles a proper workout it’s useful to know more about the anatomy of your chest.
Your chest muscles, also known as the pectoral muscles, are made up of two main muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.
The pectoralis major is the larger of the two muscles and is responsible for the bulk of your chest and creates the overall surface shape.
It has two heads: the clavicular head and the sternal head.
The clavicular head forms your upper chest muscles, while the sternal head constitutes the lower chest muscles.
The pectoralis minor is located beneath the pectoralis major and is responsible for stabilizing your shoulder blades.
To increase overall chest strength and muscle mass, it’s important to target both the upper and lower chest portions.
The pec major functions around your shoulder joint and allows for a wide range of motion across the whole of your upper body.
The pec minor, along with the serratus anterior, help to protract the shoulder forward when you perform any pressing movements.
When you undertake exercises that involve pushing, you’ll also be recruiting your triceps and shoulders.
The muscles all work together to press and drive the weight load.
On the other hand, when doing flying exercises, the triceps and shoulders are activated to a lesser extent.
No Equipment Bodyweight Chest Exercises For Strength & Mass
When it comes to improving your upper body strength and building a strong and defined chest using just your bodyweight, there are many different exercises you can do.
Here are some of the most effective types of bodyweight chest exercises:
Push ups are a classic bodyweight exercise but if you struggle to complete a full range of motion rep, the incline push-up could be a better option for you.
They’re easier to do as the incline position means there is less bodyweight for you to lift.
While a basic push-up recruits several muscle groups being the chest, triceps and shoulders, the incline push up puts more emphasis on to your upper chest muscles.
As you get stronger, you can progress to regular push-ups.
How To Do It:
- Get yourself into a high plank position with your hands resting on the edge of an elevated surface like a table.
- Keep your hands at a shoulder-width distance.
- Brace your core and use control to lower your chest towards your hands.
- Hold for a second before pushing back to the starting position.
This is another variation on the traditional pushup only this time you’ll be elevating your feet.
This increases the range of motion making it more difficult to execute.
Decline push ups are a great exercise for working your upper chest, triceps and front delts.
When starting out, elevate your feet using something like a couple of weight plates.
As you get stronger, you can progress by increasing the height of the elevated surface.
How To Do It:
- Start in a plank position with your arms extended and feet resting on an elevated surface.
- make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders.
- In a controlled matter, slowly lower your upper body towards the ground.
- Keep your core engage and back straight and try not to let your elbows flare out.
- Pause at the bottom and use power to push back up.
Side To Side Push Ups
The side-to-side pushup variation adds a dynamic element to a standard push up.
The movement allows you to work each side individually making it a good option for addressing muscle imbalances.
As well as working your chest, triceps and shoulders, side to side push ups will also recruit your core muscles helping to provide stability.
For that reason, it can also improve your balance and co-ordination.
How To Do It:
- Begin on the floor in a regular push up position with your arms extended and body forming a straight line.
- Keep your feet quite close together but move your hands out so they’re past shoulder-width.
- Instead of lowering yourself straight down, move your chest down and towards your right hand.
- Push back to the start, then go into the opposite direction moving towards your left hand.
- Keep alternating in this way until you’ve completed your reps.
Reverse Grip Push Ups
The reverse grip push-up is a variation on the traditional push-up where the palms of your hands face towards your feet instead of facing forward.
You’ll need good wrist mobility to perform this exercise with good form so if it feels uncomfortable, look at other push up variations instead.
This variation places more emphasis on the muscles of your chest, upper arms, and shoulders in a different way compared to the standard push-up.
It can also engage the biceps to a greater extent.
If you want to make the exercise a little easier to do, place your feet wider apart as this will offer you more stability.
How To Do It:
- Get yourself into a high plank position.
- Position your feet around shoulder width apart.
- Rotate your hands outwards so that your fingers are roughly pointing towards your finger. Be sure not to put too much stress on your wrist joints.
- Lower your upper body towards the floor.
- Push your shoulder blades and then push back up to the start.
Bodyweight Chest Dips
Chest dips are another great bodyweight exercise that activate the muscles of your chest and triceps.
You’ll usually need something like dip bars to perform this movement.
However, when you don’t have access to any gym equipment you can swap these out for a couple of chairs.
Position the chairs so the backs of each chair face one another.
You’ll want to leave enough space so you can grab hold of the backs of the chairs and stand in between them.
It’s important to note that you’ll want to use heavy chairs or place some heavy weights on the seats to prevent them from tipping when you do the exercise.
How To Do It:
- Stand between the two chairs and grab hold of the backs.
- Straighten your arms and lock out your elbows and bring both feet away from the floor.
- Bend your knees so you have plenty of room to do the exercise with a full range of motion.
- From this hanging position, bend your elbows so you lower towards the floor.
- Pause at the bottom then push back up to the start.
Explosive Push Ups
Explosive push-ups, also known as plyometric push-ups or clapping push-ups, are a dynamic variation of the traditional push-up.
It involves pushing off the ground with enough force to allow the hands to briefly leave the floor.
This explosive movement increases the intensity of the exercise and adds a plyometric element, incorporating power and speed into the push-up motion.
How To Do It:
- Get yourself into a position as though about to perform a standard push up exercise.
- Keep your hands position just past shoulder width apart.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground.
- Instead of pushing back up, use enough force to lift your hands away from the floor.
- As your hands leave the ground, quickly clap them together before returning them to the starting position.
- As your hands come back to the ground, land with slightly bent elbows to absorb the impact.
- Immediately go into the next repetition. Aim for a smooth and controlled landing.
Archer Push Ups
The Archer push up is similar to the side to side push up but instead of alternating between sides, you’ll repeat a set number of reps by lowering yourself to the same side.
The other difference is that one arm must remain straight throughout.
You’ll be utilizing a pushing and spreading motion at the same time which will help to recruit the inner portion of your chest.
How To Do It:
- Start in a regular push up position.
- Now move your hands out quite wide and keep your fingers pointing outwards.
- Keeping one arm completely straight lower yourself down to the opposite hand. Aim to get as low as possible.
- Push through your hand to go back to the start. Repeat for your chosen reps and then work the other side.
- Be sure to complete an equal number of reps on both sides.
Elevated Single Arm Push-Ups
This exercise is a simplified version of the very challenging one-arm push-up.
It simulates the same movement but by placing yourself in an elevated position there will be less resistance making it easier to carry out.
The lower the elevated surface is, the more resistance and the more difficult it is.
How To Do It:
- Stand in front of an elevated surface like a table.
- Place your free hand behind your back and lean forwards to place your other hand on the elevated surface. Ensure it’s level with your mid chest.
- Keep your body straight and core engaged. Your feet should be spread apart to compensate for your free arm not giving you balance and support.
- Slowly descend lowering your upper body to the surface.
- Push back up to the start and repeat.
Diamond push-ups are an effective way to target your inner chest muscles while also putting more emphasis onto your triceps.
For this reason, it can be a little more difficult to perform when compared to a basic push-up.
How To Do It:
- Begin in a plank position with your hands directly underneath your chest with your fingers forming a diamond shape by touching your thumbs and index fingers together.
- Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels, and your feet should be about hip-width apart.
- Lower your chest toward the center of the diamond by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows close to your body.
- Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
- Fully extend your elbows at the top of the movement but avoid locking them.
Remember to perform each exercise in a controlled manner and to focus on proper form. With consistent practice, these advanced bodyweight chest exercises will help you build a stronger and bigger chest in no time.
There are many different types of bodyweight chest exercises you can do to build a strong chest with definition. By mixing up your exercises and challenging yourself with new variations, you can continue to make progress and see results.
Bodyweight chest exercises offer a practical and equipment-free solution for those seeking an efficient workout.
With exercises like push-ups, dips, and variations like diamond push-ups, you can effectively target your chest muscles without the need for any specialized equipment.
The simplicity and accessibility of these exercises make them suitable for all fitness levels and you can do them in the gym or the comfort of your own home.
By incorporating these bodyweight chest exercises into your routine, you can build strength, improve muscle tone, and promote overall upper body fitness with minimal fuss or equipment requirements.