bodyweight chest exercises

21 Best Bodyweight Chest Exercises for Building Pecs of Steel

February 20, 2021

It would be safe to say that nearly every man wants an impressive pair of pecs and every woman wants perky breasts. To achieve that, you must do chest exercises and workouts on a consistent basis. This is obvious. However, the question is, do you need free weights like barbells and dumbbells to build the muscular chest and firm breasts that we all want? The answer is no, and we are here to teach you exactly how to build a stronger, bigger, chiseled chest using bodyweight exercises - no free weight equipment needed. 

chest exercises without weights

Your chest workouts at home are about to get a whole lot more effective. 

Without further ado, let’s begin.

CHEST MUSCLES ANATOMY 

There are two powerful muscles on both sides of your chest, the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, which are collectively and colloquially known as your pecs.

pec exercises

Let’s break down the anatomy of the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor, as well as the muscles that support the pectoral muscles during chest exercises.

Pectoralis Major

The pec major makes up most of your chest. You have two of these large, fan-shaped slabs of muscle, one on each side of your chest. The pec majors span your entire chest, attaching at the sternum (breastbone), ribs, clavicle (collarbone), and humerus (upper arm bone). 

The pectoralis major itself consists of two heads (head meaning points of origin), which jointly connect to the humerus.

While both heads work together much of the time, they can also have specific functions separately, depending on the angle of the upper arm movement.

The two heads are of the pec major are the sternocostal head and the clavicular head...or in other words, you upper and lower chest.

chest exercises muscles worked

Sternocostal head: As the name suggest, this head originates at the sternum. It commands most of the pec majors real estate, accounting for 80% of its total size. With that, the sternocostal head powers much of the pecs actions, such as bringing your arms toward you body’s centerline (adduction) and rotating your upper arm internally. 

Exercises that target the sternocostal head - dips, push ups (or bench press), flys, decline push ups (or decline bench press).

Clavicular head: The clavicular head is what people are referring to when they say “upper chest”. This head originates at the clavicle, and while it assist in the above actions, it also takes a bigger role when flexing your humerus (bringing your arm up and forward). 

Exercises that target the clavicular head - incline press, decline push ups, low cable fly.

Pectoralis Minor

Your pec minor, of which you have one on each side of your chest, is a small, triangular muscle positioned under the pec major.

Although the pec minor is located on the front side of your body, it controls many structures on the backside.

The pec minor attaches to your ribs and the coracoid, which is a small hook-like profusion at the top of your shoulder blade. Due to these attachment points, the pectoralis minor helps pull down (depress) and spread apart the shoulder blades (as such, the pec minor plays an important role in scapular stability). It also assists with breathing.

In regards to targeting your pec minor, it should be understood that the pec minor is working whenever you work your pectoralis major. Moreover, targeting the pec minor specifically is difficult as it is not a primary mover.

That said, you can hone in on the pec minor a bit by doing chest exercises that involve leaning forward and drawing your shoulder blades down, such as dips, decline chest press and pull downs.

We will make note of what muscles are being worked for each chest exercise within this post. 

benefits of bodyweight chest exercises

Other Muscles Involved in Chest Exercises

While the focus of chest workouts are the pecs, other muscles will always be involved, so you will see gains and improvements elsewhere too. This includes your shoulders (especially your front delts), triceps, latissimus dorsi (lats) and the trapezius (traps).

The lats help you stabilize during exercises like push ups. They also help drive your body away from the floor when your elbows are back behind you (at the lowest part of the push up - or when a barbell is to your chest on bench press). Having strong lats will make your pressing movements stronger. After a good chest workout, you should feel a pump in your lats.

Your traps help to stabilize your shoulder blades during chest exercises (as you should have your shoulder blades retracted when doing chest movements). As such, your traps are a secondary muscle that will be worked, just like the lats, but to a lesser degree.

Your shoulders, aka deltoid muscles, will be working on all pushing exercises, especially the front delts. Depending on the angle (and your form), your delts will be targeted more or less. All in all, if you train chest in its entirety, your front delts will be well developed too.

As for your triceps, they are actually primary movers during pressing exercises and push ups. Depending on the push up or press variation, the triceps might actually be working harder than the pecs (i.e. close grip). So, during chest workouts, your triceps will be doing a lot of work. If your triceps are weak, they are likely to reach failure much before your pecs do.

It would be ideal to also do tricep isolation exercises if your triceps are weak or if you want to see more improvement in tricep hypertrophy and strength because even though they are being targeted effectively during chest exercises, they are not always moving through a full range of motion. With isolation exercises, you can really hone in on your triceps by using a full range of motion, which in turn, will benefit your chest workouts later on. Ideally, if you have time, throw a couple tricep specific exercises in after your chest exercises. Doing them on the same day makes sense because they will already be worked after your chest exercises, so you won’t need to spend a bunch of time to exhaust them afterward.

Note: We forgot to mention core and glutes! Any push up position is like a plank, so your core will be working to stabilize your body. If you have a weak core, the way bodyweight chest exercises target it will be very apparent. But don’t worry, your core will get stronger the longer you train! Your glutes should also be tight, as should your quadriceps, so your glutes and quads (and even hip flexors) will be activated as well. 

best chest exercises at home

IMPORTANCE OF A STRONG CHEST 

First and foremost, your pecs make up a significant portion of your upper body, so if you want well-rounded strength and aesthetics, training your chest for strength and hypertrophy is essential. But, the importance building your pec strength goes beyond just having a chest like a god and being able to do hundreds of push ups, there are other benefits that you will reap, and this applies to men and women alike. 

  1. Improve Posture: Your pecs play an important role in maintaining good posture as they help stabilize the shoulder joint. Just make sure you also train your back equally as well, as if you only train chest, your pecs will get too tight, which can cause rounding in your shoulders. Good posture requires strong a chest, shoulders and back.
  2. Better Breathing: As your chest connects to your ribs, strengthening and lengthening your chest muscles will lead to deeper breathing capability.
  3. Enhance Performance: Any pushing and swinging motion you do involves the chest muscles. So, the stronger your pecs are the more powerful your movements will be. Athletes need a strong chest, this is obvious, but so does the average Joe and Jane as we use our chest in daily life a lot more than we may think.
  4. Perkier Breasts: This one is for women. A lot of women don’t want to train chest because they think it will make their breasts smaller or more “manly”. However, pectoral exercises will actually provide lift and support, making breasts more perky for the long run. So, ladies, don’t skip chest day.
  5. Body Composition: As mentioned initially, a bodyweight chest exercises will lead to a bigger, broader chest, which just looks good! And for women, perkier breasts as we just made point of. Just remember, like posture, for good body composition, you need to train back and shoulders equally (and of course the rest of your body!)

chest exercises no equipment

WHY BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES ARE GREAT

While working out with equipment is great if you have it or have access to a gym, bodyweight chest exercises are really all you need if you know what you are doing! With bodyweight chest exercises alone, you can build a strong, powerful, broad chest. Moreover, you will do so in an absolutely safe manner.

Here are a few reasons why we love bodyweight chest exercises:

  • Cost Effective: It doesn’t cost anything to do chest exercises without equipment. All you need to do is push your body against gravity! So, if you have a small budget, it doesn’t mean you have to have small chest!
  • Perfect for all fitness levels: It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or the most advanced athlete, bodyweight chest exercises can be effective thanks to countless variations, progressions and simply the ability of altering reps, sets and tempo.
  • Location Independent: Bodyweight chest exercises can be done anywhere thanks to no equipment being needed. This means you can do chest workouts at home, outside, or while traveling. We’ve even done chest exercises on an airplane once!
  • Low Risk: Bodyweight chest exercises are low risk and the reward is quite high. You can definitely build a good looking chest without the risk of shoulder injury, which is super common among people who bench press heavy.

best bodyweight chest exercises

How to build your chest at home without weights? 

If you want to build a chest with bodyweight exercises, you need to understand three things: what exercises to do, progressive overload, and diet.

What Bodyweight Chest Exercises: There are tons of bodyweight chest exercises without weights that will allow you to constantly progress and hit your chest from different angles. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, if you know the right exercises, you can build your pec muscles without equipment. We will show you 21 of our favorite chest exercises that don’t require free weights below.

Progressive Overload: Progressive overload is not just about “adding more weight” or doing more difficult variations of push ups. It’s also about increasing the difficulty through reps, sets, tempo, and more. Read this if you want to learn about progressive overload techniques for strength and hypertrophy. They apply to any muscle group. We will touch more on reps, sets and tempo after we go over our 21 best chest exercises at home without weights.

Diet: You can’t build a bigger chest without the right diet. You need to eat enough food to induce hypertrophy. Eat a well-rounded, adequate-to-high protein diet and your chest will grow. If not, it will get tighter, wider, and more tone, but it won’t get beefier. 

chest exercises at home without weights

CAN PUSHUPS BUILD CHEST MUSCLES? 

The push up is the most effective bodyweight chest exercises there is. In fact, it is one of the most effective upper body exercises, along with pull ups. If you were to only do a handful of exercises, it better be push ups, squats, pull ups, and planks. Push ups target multiple muscle groups, such as your shoulders, triceps and core. Even if you have access to weights, you should still be doing push ups. That’s how effective push ups are for building a stronger bigger chest and upper body. 

That said, like any exercise, how you perform push ups can determine how effective they are. If you do them properly, they can build strength and lean muscle mass in the chest, triceps and shoulders like no other exercise. 

The great thing about push ups is there are tons of variations too! Depending on how you position your hands, your body, and legs, you can hit your chest from different angles and alter the difficulty. On top of that, you have tempo (i.e. slow and controlled or explosive) progressions. With all the push up variations, regressions, and progressions, you can build a well-rounded chest and continue to progress over the long haul. 

PUSH UPS EVERYDAY?

You shouldn’t be doing push ups everyday, unless you are doing full body workouts, in which case you are not likely exhausting your pectoral muscles. If you do really crush your chest workouts, then push ups every day is not recommenced as you need to give them time to recover.

Overall, you need to listen to your body. If your chest isn’t recovered, then don’t do push ups. Simple as that.

Let’s say you want to do 100 push ups a day. That should be fine if you are doing something like 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 50 pull ups, and 200-300 squats per day. This is a full body bodyweight routine that is manageable day in and day out. 

However, you need to understand a few things. First, if you are new to fitness, you will likely be sore for the first week or so from this kind of routine, so you should let your body recover before doing the workout again. Remember, your body gets stronger after you recover. Second, after a few weeks (or however long for you specifically) of this same routine, your body will get used to it due to our ability to adapt. Once you fully adapt to this routine, you will no longer make improvements, you will simply maintain, so ideally you would want to increase the difficulty with more reps, sets, or different variations. This is where progressive overload comes into play. That said, once you reach this point of "maintenance", doing 100 push ups every day would be fine as your muscles won't need the recovery.

The same goes for 200 push ups a day, 300 push ups a day, and so on. At first, you will be sore and you will need to take more than a day to recover, but eventually it will become too easy, and you will need to increase the difficulty somehow if you want to keep improving.

All in all, to answer the question “is doing push ups every day ok”, yes as push ups aren’t that taxing, but if you are training hard and want consistent improvements, then no, as you will need to exhaust your muscles and that means you will need more recovery between your sessions. If you are just looking to maintain, then you can set a push up number per day, get to a point where it is not exhausting you so that you need more than a day’s worth of recovery, then you can do it every day without any issue. All that said, we are here to look at different chest exercises and workouts that will lead to performance and aesthetic improvements and ways to break plateaus (or at least try to), not just maintenance.

bodyweight exercises for upper chest

PUSH UP GRIP & FEET LEVEL - MUSCLES TARGETED 

By changing your hand position and how you level your body, you can change how push ups target your muscles. This is the beauty of push ups - you can hit your muscles from all different angles and place emphasis on certain muscles. Let’s go over a few examples… 

Standard Push Up: The standard push up starts you in a high plank position with your hands about shoulder with apart. This is going to work your triceps, shoulders and pecs.

Wide Grip Push Up: The wide grip push up is going to place a little more emphasis on your pec minor and pec major (and even your biceps surprisingly).

While it is commonly said that wide grip hits the chest more, a study by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that a more narrow grip actually activates the chest to a greater degree. However, this is up for debate, as most would say a wide grip push up is best for pecs. 

Close Grip Push Up: The close grip push up is said to have slightly more pec major and minor activation than the standard push up because it is harder, and it also places greater emphasis on the triceps. It is also good for hitting your inner chest as you can squeeze your chest more at the top thanks to the closer hand positioning.

High Push Up: Instead of having your hands on the floor in line with your shoulder, the high push up positions them up higher (almost a hand length above your shoulder level). This is harder so it is going to activate your pecs and triceps a little more. Moreover, it is going to place emphasis on your upper chest. 

Low Push Up: The low push up brings your hands below shoulder level. This is actually harder than high push ups, so it has even greater activation for the pecs and triceps. It also brings the biceps and rear delts into the mix in a greater way.

Now the above are just a few hand positions (the most common), and it doesn’t go into the other muscles push ups work, like you core, lats and traps. You can really position your hands in anyway (i.e. staggered with one higher than the other, hands pointing out, hands pointing in, one hand, and so on). 

Besides hand positioning, you have body positioning too, meaning how you angle your body. For example…

Decline Push Up: This is when you place your feet up on a platform and perform a push up. The decline push up hits your chest in a similar way as the incline bench press, as it places emphasis on your upper chest.

Incline Push Up: This is when you place your hands on a platform and leave your feet on the ground (opposite of the decline push up). Incline push ups activate the the lower chest and back more.

With both options, you can change the height/angle, more or less, which, of course, can affect muscle activation.

What’s more, coupling body positioning with different hand placements gives you even more variations and allows you to get very creative. Just be sure to keep your joints in safe positions.

Now that we covered the basics, let us show you 21 of our favorite bodyweight chest exercises (with a few that use bands and suspension trainers as these are cheap and effective tools to have at home). Only a few of the aforementioned variations are shown below, so you will be seeing some push up variations and bodyweight chest exercises that we have yet to discuss.

21 BEST BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES (WITH A COUPLE EXERCISES USING BANDS & SUSPENSION TRAINER)


1. Push Ups (0:05​)

2. Kneeling Push Ups (0:24​)
3. Plank Push Ups (0:42​)
4. Resistance Band Push Ups (1:03​)
5. Mini Band Push Ups (1:17​)
6. Plyo Push Ups (1:36​)
7. Elevated Push Ups (1:49​)
8. Dynamic Push Ups (2:06​)
9. Elevated Diamond Push Ups (2:20​)
10. Alternating Elevated Push Ups (2:34​)
11. Spiderman Push Ups (2:50​)
12. Diving Push Ups (3:06​)
13. Incline Push Ups (3:25​)
14. Decline Push Ups (3:42​)
15. Dips (3:59​)
16. High Plank (4:19​)
17. High Plank Shoulder Taps (4:34​)
18. Suspension Chest Fly (4:52​)
19. Suspension Chest Press (5:12​)
20. Suspension Push Ups (5:27​)
21. Jackknife Push Ups (5:43​)

**If the exercise emphasizes a muscle or area of a muscle, we will put it in bold**

1. Standard Push Ups (0:05​)

bodyweight chest exercises for mass

How to:

  1. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  2. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor.
  3. When you arms are at about 90 degrees, your body should be parallel with the floor. From there, push through the palms of your hands back into the high plank position. 

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abdominals 

2. Kneeling Push Ups (0:24​)

bodyweight chest exercises for beginners

How to:

  1. With your knees and toes on the floor and your hips in a neutral position, put your palms about shoulder width apart and shoulders stacked above the wrists.
  2. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor. Pause for a moment.
  3. Push through the palms of your hands until your arms are fully extended.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids

3. Plank Push Ups (0:42​)

bodyweight chest workout

How to:

  1. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  2. Lift your right hand off the floor and lower it down so that your elbow and forearm rest on the floor. Try to keep your back straight and your hips squared forward when doing so.
  3. From there, do the same thing with your left hand. Now, you will be in a low plank position with your elbows directly under your shoulder.
  4. Lift your right arm off the floor and place your palm to the floor directly under your shoulder and press up. Again, try to keep your hips squared forward.
  5. Once your right arm is nearly extended, do the same thing with your left arm. Now, you will be in a high plank position. Repeat.

Primary Muscles Worked: Core, Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids

4. Resistance Band Push Ups (1:03​)

chest workout without weights

How to:

  1. Wrap the resistance band around your back and grab the loops with your hands so that it is pressing on the inside of your palm. The band should run from one hand, over your arm just under your shoulder, around your back at the lower trap, and over to the other side.
  2. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  3. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor.
  4. When you arms are at about 90 degrees, your body should be parallel with the floor. From there, push through the palms of your hands back into the high plank position.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs

5. Mini Band Push Ups (1:17​)

chest workout no equipment

How to:

  1. Place your arms in-between the fabric band so that it is wrapped around your arms at the triceps.
  2. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  3. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor.
  4. When you arms are at about 90 degrees, your body should be parallel with the floor. From there, push through the palms of your hands back into the high plank position.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs

6. Plyo Push Ups (1:36​)

chest workout without equipment

How to:

  1. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  2. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor.
  3. When you arms are at about 90 degrees, your body should be parallel with the floor. From there, explode through the palms of your hands so that your body lifts up once your arms are fully extended. Your hands will come off the floor, bring them together for a quick clap then make sure you bring your hands back down so you can catch yourself. When you land, they should be stacked below your shoulders and you will be in the high plank position again.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (this is a plyometric exercise so it is going to build strength and explosive power in your chest and arms).

7. Elevated Push Ups (1:49​)

chest exercises at home

How to:

  1. For this exercise you can use any kind of platform or sturdy ball. You will place one hand on the ball or platform so that it is elevated higher than the other hand which is on the floor. Your hands will be wider than shoulder width apart, but they will be at shoulder level. The rest of the form is the same as a standard push up.
  2. Perform a push up. Stop when the arm with the hand that’s on the floor is at 90 degrees. Your elevated hand will have your elbow up much higher, above your back. This means it will have a deeper range of motion.
  3. Press back up until your arm is extended (the one with hand to the floor). Your elevated hand will not be able to reach full extension. This means it will have less range of motion on the top end.
  4. Repeat the same amount of reps with the opposite hand elevated.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Front Deltoids, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (as this is an offset exercise, your core will be activated more than a standard push up as to stabilize your body.

8. Dynamic Push Ups (2:06​)

best inner chest exercises without weights

How to:

This is similar to a clapping push up but instead of clapping your hands together, you will be exploding up so that your hands can move to an object placed at the center (directly below your chest). The object can be a box or a sturdy ball. So you are doing an explosive push up, popping up so your hands land on the ball, then you are pushing off the ball so that you hands come back down to the floor to perform another explosive push up back onto the object.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (this is a plyometric exercise so it is going to build strength and explosive power in your chest and arms - your core will also be challenged a little more as it needs to stabilize your body when you land your hands on the object).

9. Elevated Diamond Push Ups (2:20​)

bodyweight chest exercises for inner chest

How to:

  1. If you have a medicine ball or slam ball that’s great. If not, you can use another suitable sturdy object or go without the elevation.
  2. Your hands should be facing in, stacked under your pecs. So, both hands will be inside the width of your shoulders. You can even have them as close to make a diamond with your hands.
  3. Go down until your body is about parallel with the floor.
  4. Press back up through your hands until your arms are fully extended. Always maintain a straight back.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (this exercise emphasizes the triceps and inner chest - it is also said to activate the pecs as whole more than the standard push up. 

10. Alternating Elevated Push Ups (2:34​)

pectoral muscle exercises

How to:

  1. For this exercise you can use any kind of platform or medicine ball. You will place one hand on the ball or platform so that it is elevated higher than the other hand which is on the floor. Your hands will be wider than shoulder width apart, but they will be at shoulder level.
  2. Perform a push up and as your arms extend push so your body moves to a position where it is over the ball.
  3. From there, switch the hand that’s on the ball and move your body to the other side to perform a push up on that side. Then repeat for desired reps.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Core (this exercise is going to activate your shoulders a lot more and it brings your back muscles into play to a greater degree too - it also demands more core strength and stability). 

11. Spiderman Push Ups (2:50​)

bodyweight pecs exercises

How to:

  1. Get into a standard high plank position.
  2. As you lower your body down like you would with a standard push up, pick up your right foot and draw your right knee up to your elbow. It should come close to your elbow when you are parallel with the floor.
  3. As you push back up, bring your right foot back so that it is extended and place your toes on the floor. When you reach the top, your foot should to the floor back in the high plank position.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs, Obliques.

12. Diving Push Ups (3:06​)

pec workout at home

How to:

  1. Place your hands and feet shoulder-width apart and raise your hips up so that your body forms an inverted V (almost like a down dog but without your heels pressing to the floor. Your hands will be extended in front of you and your head should be in-between your arms.
  2. Slowly dive down so that your shoulders are lowered away from your ears and your chest moves forward between your hands as you bend your arms.
  3. Continue to glide through as you straighten your arms bring your chest up. It will look almost like an upward dog position but your toes will be pressing to the floor still and your legs will not be resting on the floor.
  4. From there, reverse the glide and raise your hips back up to the starting position. 

Primary Muscles Worked: This is pretty much a total upper body exercise. All of your upper body muscles will be firing off with this one, with, of course, your pecs and arms doing a lot of the work. Because of how the exercise moves you through different angles, both your upper and lower chest will be emphasized here.

13. Incline Push Ups (3:25​)

lower chest exercises

How to:

  1. Place your hand on the edge of an elevated surface. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart and your hips in a neutral position with your back straight, legs extended, and toes to the floor.
  2. Slowly lower your chest to the edge of the platform.
  3. Pause then push back up to the starting position with your arms fully extended.

Primary Muscles Worked: This exercise is easier than a standard push up. However, it does a good job of hitting the lower head of the pecs and the deltoids and triceps as you will be able to move through a greater range of motion.

14. Decline Push Ups (3:42​)

upper chest exercises

How to:

  1. Place your hands on the floor in a standard push up position. Rather than having your feet on the floor, elevate them onto a platform. Your hips should remain in a neutral position.
  2. Bend at your elbow to lower your chest to the floor.
  3. Your chest should come a few inches from the ground. From there, push through the palms of your hands back up until your arms are extended.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (this one is going to place emphasis on the upper chest).

15. Dips (3:59​)

chest and tricep workout at home

How to:

  1. Sit down on a bench, with your hands next to your thighs.
  2. Walk your feet out and extend your legs, thus lifting your butt off the bench and your arms extended.
  3. Bend at the elbow and lower your body down as far as you can go or at least until your arms form a 90 degree angle.
  4. Press back up through your palms until your arms are fully extended.

Primary Muscles Worked: Triceps, deltoids, pecs, rhomboids, lats.

16. High Plank (4:19​)

pec workout without weights

How to:

  1. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  2. Hold this position.
  3. Keep your core braced and glutes and quads tight. Your entire body should be solid. Place emphasis on your chest by really squeezing the entire time.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (this isometric core exercise is not just for your abs, it will train your pecs for strength too!). 

17. High Plank Shoulder Taps (4:34​)

chest exercises

How to:

  1. Get into a high plank position with your hands about shoulder width apart, shoulders stacked above wrists, and your legs extended with feet about hip width apart. Your back should be straight with your hips in a neutral position.
  2. Hold this position.
  3. Lift one hand off the ground and tap the opposite side’s shoulder. Then bring it back to the floor.
  4. Lift the other hand and tap the opposite shoulder. Lower it back down.
  5. Repeat for desired reps or an allotted time.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Abs (by lifting your arms up, you will be activating your chest and triceps to a greater degree as only one arm will be holding your body weight rather than two arms).

18. Suspension Chest Fly (4:52​)

chest exercises with suspension trainer

How to:

  1. Attach the suspension trainer to a sturdy object overhead (i.e. pull up bar).
  2. Grab the handles and place your legs back so your body is in a straight line.
  3. Straighten your arms away from you, with a slight bend in your elbow.
  4. Once you feel a nice stretch on your chest, squeeze your arms together. Squeeze with your chest, not just your arms.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Core (this is great for building the inner chest line).

19. Suspension Chest Press (5:12​)

modified push ups

How to:

  1. Attach the suspension trainer to a sturdy object overhead (i.e. pull up bar).
  2. Grab the handles and place your legs back so your body is in a straight line.
  3. Lower your body down as far as you can go, then press back up, keeping your hips squared forward.

Primary Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Core (your core will be working harder on this than standard push ups on the floor because the suspension trainer requires more core stability).

20. Suspension Push Ups (5:27​)

push up variations

How to:

  1. Attach the suspension trainer to a sturdy object overhead (i.e. pull up bar).
  2. Place your feet through the handles so that the handle rests on your foot/ankle.
  3. Your hands should be stacked under your shoulders, about shoulder-width apart.
  4. Lower yourself down as far as you can go while maintain a straight line in your back.
  5. Press back up through the palms of your hands until your arms are extended. 

Primary Muscles Worked: Muscles Worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Core

21. Jackknife Push Ups (5:43​)

bodyweight exercises for chest

How to:

  1. Attach the suspension trainer to a sturdy object overhead (i.e. pull up bar).
  2. Place your feet through the handles so that the handle rests on your foot/ankle.
  3. Your hands should be stacked under your shoulders, about shoulder-width apart.
  4. Perform a push up and when you come back up to the top position, pull your knees in towards your chest while squeeze your abs.
  5. Bring your legs back to an extended position and perform another push up and repeat.

Primary Muscles worked: Pectoralis Major, Pectoralis Minor, Triceps, Deltoids, Core (this is a very difficult exercise so you are going to feel it everywhere, including your abs and chest as you are adding the knee to chest movement).

Now, we will organize the above exercises by fitness levels… 

BEST BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES FOR BEGINNERS:

  • Kneeling Push Ups
  • Plank Push Ups
  • High Plank
  • High Plank Shoulder Taps
  • Incline Push Ups
  • Dips

BEST BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES FOR INTERMEDIATE:

  • Push Ups
  • Decline Push Ups
  • Resistance Band Push Ups
  • Mini Band Push Ups
  • Elevated Push Ups
  • Alternating Elevated Push Ups
  • Diving Push Ups
  • Suspension Chest Press
  • Suspension Push Ups

BEST BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES FOR ADVANCED:

  • Plyo Push Ups
  • Dynamic Push Ups
  • Elevated Diamond Push Ups
  • Spiderman Push Ups
  • Suspension Chest Fly
  • Jackknife Push Ups

can i build muscle with push ups

TEMPO x REPS & SETS

It’s important to understand how tempo affects a bodyweight exercise. If you use a fast tempo, you will build speed, strength and explosive power. If you use a slow tempo, you will increase tension, which will result in greater muscle growth. The key to achieving hypertrophy (building muscle) with bodyweight exercises is maximizing tensions and time under tension.

Ideally, you want to mix it up. Of course, if your goal is to get bigger, and improve aesthetics, then focus more on creating maximum tension and time under tension by using a slow tempo. Then, throw in some explosive sets (fast tempo) or exercises (i.e. clapping push ups) here and there. It’s always good to switch things up and keep your muscles guessing.

Good tempos for building muscle:

3-2-1 Tempo: 3 seconds down, 2 second pause, 1 second up. strength.

1-2-3 Tempo: 1 second down, 2 second pause, 3 second up.

Feel free to play around with your tempo 

Besides tempo, you also need consider your rep range and total volume (i.e. number of exercises and sets). If you want to build muscle, then each should be taking you close to failure. If you are using a slow tempo, then that may be 10-20 reps (or more) depending on your fitness level. You will have to use trial and error to see what works in terms of sets and volume of your workout. You could start with 5-7 exercises for 2-4 sets. See how that works for you. As you get stronger, increase the time under tension for each set and then the volume of your workout (number of sets and exercises). Also, mix things up by changing the types of exercises you do. Using the 21 bodyweight chest exercises above, you can rotate the exercises each week.

push up workout at home

BODYWEIGHT CHEST WORKOUT (NO EQUIPMENT)

Here is an example of how your chest workouts could look.

Bodyweight Chest Workout #1:

  1. Standard Push Up - 3 sets x 20 reps
  2. Diving Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  3. Alternating Elevated Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps each side
  4. Decline Push Ups - 3 sets x 10 reps
  5. Suspension Chest Fly - 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  6. Dips - 3 sets x 15-20 reps

Bodyweight Chest Workout #2:

  1. Incline Push Up - 3 sets x 20 reps
  2. Resistance Band Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  3. Plank Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  4. Close Grip Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  5. High Push Up - 3 sets x 15 reps
  6. High Plank - 3 sets x 30 seconds

Bodyweight Chest Workout #3:

  1. Kneeling Push Up - 3 sets x 20 reps
  2. Mini Band Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  3. Wide Grip Push Up - 3 sets x 15 reps
  4. Dynamic Push Up - 3 sets x 10 reps
  5. High Plank Shoulder Taps - 3 sets x 20-30 seconds
  6. Suspension Chest Fly - 3 sets x max reps

Bodyweight Chest Workout #4:

  1. Low Push Up - 3 sets x 20 reps
  2. Suspension Chest Press - 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  3. Elevated Diamond Push Up - 3 sets x 15 reps
  4. Spiderman Push Up - 3 sets x 10-15 reps
  5. Standard Push Up - 3 sets x 20 reps
  6. Jackknife Push Ups - 3 sets x 10-15 reps

Choose one or two exercises or even just a couple sets here and there each workout for fast tempo. The rest, use a slower tempo.

If you are more advanced or less advanced, simply adjust the reps and sets according to your capability. 

push up with mini band

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TRAIN CHEST MUSCLES/DO CHEST WORKOUTS?

To answer the question simply, you can do a chest workout (or chest exercises), whenever your pecs and the associated pushing muscles are not sore or in need of recovery. If your muscles feel good and you feel energized, then you can do chest exercises.

Now, let’s look at this from a more thorough perspective. 

If you are doing chest specific workouts, then you can should do them once or twice a week. This is because your entire workout is focused on your chest and the associated pushing muscles, so they should be exhausted by the end of the workout and in need of recovery, which can take a day or two. Other workouts during the week will be back (and the associated pulling muscles) and lower body. So that means you can do chest every three to four days. Remember, you want to train your body equally, so you can’t just do chest workouts. 

If you do full body workouts, then you could train your chest every workout, with one to three exercises, depending on the volume of your workout. This is because your chest muscles will likely not need a long recovery as you are not completely taxing them like you would with a chest only workout.

Another good split is an upper lower body split, especially if much of your workouts involve bodyweight exercises. If you do an upper lower split, you could train your chest as much as three times a week. For example, day 1 is upper body (chest, back, arms, core) and day 2 is lower body, then you could take a rest day or cardio on day 3 or do another upper body workout.

All of the above splits are good, it just depends on your goal. If you are doing a muscle group specific split (chest day, back day, arm/shoulder day, legs/glutes day), then you have the best chance to build muscle and strength with bodyweight workouts. If you do a full body routine, then you can get nice and toned and maintain muscle. If you do an upper lower split, you have a mix of both hypertrophy and maintenance. It’s up to you. We like to switch things up throughout the year. For example, you could do full body for 3-4 months, then 4 day split for 3-4 months, then an upper lower split for 3-4 months, then repeat. Or you could just choose two different splits and switch them up throughout the year every 2-3 months. 

Other Bodyweight Exercises:
- Bodyweight Shoulder Exercises
- Bodyweight Back Exercises
- Bodyweight Leg Exercises
- Bodyweight Core Exercises

BEST EQUIPMENT FOR CHEST WORKOUTS AT HOME 

best equipment for at home chest workouts

If your workouts are mainly calisthenic/bodyweight weight, it would still be ideal to get some “enhancers”. Enhancers being some lightweight, portable equipment.

Our favorite equipment, not only for chest but any muscle group, are resistance bands, fabric hip bands (aka booty bands) and suspension trainers. 

With 41” loop resistance bands, you can add resistance to pretty much any exercises. You can also use them as assistance for bodyweight exercises. For example, let’s say you have trouble doing clapping push ups (or even standard push ups), you connect it to a pull up bar then loop it around your torso and the resistance band will help with the upward motion as it will be pulling in an upward direction. Besides assistance and resistance, you can use them for stretching, mobility, mobilization and speed training. They are extremely versatile, so you should be able to find good use for them every workout.

Buy Resistance Bands for At Home Workouts

Related: Top 11 Resistance Band Chest Exercises

With fabric hip bands, you can make lower body exercises more effective. These small fabric loop bands have a good amount of resistance that is going to better activate your glutes and leg muscles when doing bodyweight squats and other bodyweight leg exercises. They are also great for core workout and if you get creative, like we did with our fabric band push ups, you can use them to activate the pecs just like you would for the glutes when wearing them for squats.

Buy Fabric Hip Bands for At Home Workouts

Suspension trainers are a mainstay at gyms all over the world for good reason, they are super effective for training your entire body and building strength and muscle. They bring a completely different dynamic to bodyweight exercises that involves balance, coordination, and core strength as they engage the stabilizer muscles really well. Moreover, with suspension trainers, you can get a deeper range of motion which is good for maximizing hypertrophy. Like resistance bands, there are countless ways to use suspension trainers, with exercises ranging from easy to very hard.

***The above is an affiliate ad where we will make a small commission on any purchase you make. We only recommend brands and products that we trust and have experience using.***

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