If you are looking to build a bigger chest; you might think you need to work on benches, reps out and do more dumbbell flyes. But wait it isn’t so true; all it takes is to follow bodyweight chest exercises.
I have seen many who build a well-defined chest and torso; all by themselves without a regular gym membership. Most people think getting a gym membership is a guaranty to succeed.
Yes, it does help but it does not mean you can not get results otherwise provided you put in your time and effort in bodyweight training. It’s fun, easy, cost-effective and does work.
Yes, there is another way to work out your chest; all with little to no equipment. It will definitely help you sculpt the chest you always desired. Whether you want to showoff or build personality it’s completely doable and within a fixed time frame.
That being said bodyweight chest workouts are a perfect starting point. Here you do not need any equipment and so can be done anywhere!
If you are already following a regular gym session; then it can be used as your intermediate workouts. It’s highly versatile and works great in any format or condition.
In this article, we present to you the 21 best bodyweight exercises that help you build a massive chest.
Why Bodyweight Chest Exercises?
Today bodybuilding is all about diet charts, proper supplements, extensive training, premium gym memberships and more. But go back to 1920s where there was nothing as such a place called the gym.
Yet there were bodybuilders at that time and people with good physique. A time when people eat more, work more and face a lack of information and guidance on how to build muscles.
Yet we see people build some good body as in the above image from the 1920s. Here they are with their unbelievable muscle development all before the age of gym memberships, fancy diet charts, and supplements.
How was this possible? – Simple with bodyweight exercises and a habit to do outdoor physical activity.
Here are some impressive benefits of bodyweight chest workouts:
1 ) Bodyweight Exercises Are Cost-Effective
Building a massive chest requires both time and money if you follow the popular approach. Most people follow gym membership because it gives fast results, builds community and becomes part of your lifestyle.
But the beauty of bodyweight exercise is that its absolutely free. As long as you know how to utilize your own body weight; there is no need to spend a dime on building muscles.
Let me tell you a personal story. I started following a gym in 2012 for my own fitness needs. My friend wanted to follow suit but struggles to meet financial obligations.
So he went for extreme bodyweight exercises and get better results than mine in just 6 months. Not to mention I stick to my 1 hr gym routine while he made bodyweight exercise part of his morning and evening routine.
So anyone on a tight budget can go for bodyweight chest workouts. Even when you have no such financial obligations you should try bodyweight exercises.
This way you not only build muscles but also saves money.
2 ) Fit For all Ages, Sex & Personality
The best thing about bodyweight exercise such as pushups is that it’s highly flexible and can be done by anybody. Be it old, young, man or woman there are pushups for everybody.
There are pushups with varying levels of difficulty catering to specific needs. Whether its building muscles, strength or flexibility there is a specific bodyweight exercise for that.
The best method of building stronger chest following bodyweight exercise is by calisthenic movements.
Beginners, young and women start with simple bodyweight exercises like the squats; wide climber jump, burpees, situps, planks, clap jack, and single-leg pike pushups.
Once they build sufficient strength and fitness habits; go for moderate and extreme bodyweight exercises. There is no need to jump straight for the tough ones from start.
3 ) Bodyweight Chest Workouts Can Be Done Anywhere
The problem with traditional exercises is that you need equipment like dumbells, press machines, dips support, lift exercise machines, chest fly machines and many more.
They are hard to get anywhere other than a typical gym setup. So you are restricted in options at where and how will you train. Further, you have to manage your schedule based on gym time.
You get a limited allotted time at a gym and then there is the queue; just in case you go for the cheapest gym available. I have seen people waiting as much as 10 minutes to work on a machine.
When there are so many caveats attached to popular workouts methods. Here is this bodyweight exercise which gives you flexibility and control. You can do it in the morning, evening or noon; it is you who decides!
Now you have no need to cancel a meetup or a party. So stay relaxed and adjust your workout routine as per your need. Plus it won’t close ( Gym have fixed operating time ); not even on holidays.
Since it uses your bodyweight you need no equipment and can be done anywhere; be it your bedroom, office, hall, yard or any open space.
4 ) Low Risks To Injuries
It’s too good to see how people help each other at the gym building their perfect selves. But I often see how beginners fall for the need to lift heavy weights to prove themselves.
While some are really generous and try to learn before they try. Others rush for the machine; using them without knowing the proper techniques. There is nothing wrong with learning on your own.
In fact, in most cases learning on the go is the best method as you learn from own experiences and mistakes. But here the risks are too high and limit your potential.
I understand the peer pressure and how scared one can feel of the fact what if people know you know nothing and laugh!
Well, the danger of improper operation of weight machines is far more than the fear of possible embarrassment. Second, no one really cares to the point whether you are a beginner or pro. Everyone starts as a beginner!
I too was a beginner and make the same mistakes. Luckily someone catches me early and teaches me the proper methods. But remember you might not be so lucky and may injure yourself.
With these exercises, you need not worry about the risks of injuries. Your body mass is always strong enough to take one’s own body weight and does not break.
Further, since there are no weights involves there is less likely of unwanted accidents.
21 Best Bodyweight Chest Workouts
1 ) Standard Pushups
Pushups are basics of strength training, bodybuilding and more. It is used in military, sports, gym, personal training and has about 1000+ different variants.
If you ever take fitness seriously you gonna perform pushups. Truthfully pushups are classics! It’s a perfect chest exercise that helps build up a bigger chest.
It is simple, can be done anywhere and target different areas of the chest with its different variations. For now, just stick to the standard pushups and include variations later as you progress.
How To: One should always start pushups from the ground position. Now lie down on your chest and abdomen keeping your hands at shoulder-width apart.
Maintain a good pushup position with your hands on the ground perfectly aligned to your chest. Now lift up to a fully extended arm position as you slightly push your toes.
Maintain a straight posture of your body for a brief period and slowly get back to the initial position. Now do 2-3 sets of 20 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
2 ) Wall Pushups
Feeling weak to perform even the standard pushups? No problem there is one variation that is much easier to do and helps strengthen your shoulders, arm, and chest.
This pushup variation was first used to help patients with arm and shoulder injury. The good thing about this exercise is that unlike other variations; it can be done with injuries, pregnancy, and arthritis.
Wall pushups is a great exercise for old, beginners and woman; who wants to build sufficient strength before training. You can further increase or decrease its difficulty by adjusting your feet distance from the wall.
How To: Stand upfront at an arm’s length away from the wall. Now place your palm on the wall with hands shoulder-width apart. Maintain a parallel leg position to that of your hands.
Lean forward bending your elbow till your chest is almost close to the wall. Make sure you maintain a proper straight posture ( hips and back inline ) as you lean to the wall.
Hold on this position for a brief period and then lift yourself back to the initial stage. Now do 5 sets of 10-15 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
3 ) Modified Pushup
Is wall pushups too easy for you but still can’t complete a standard pushup? Try this modified pushup that lies in between the standard and wall pushup; in comparison with difficulty and strength required.
Pushups are hard and not everyone can do good for the first time. In fact, I can’t do proper pushups till the end of my high school. It’s all normal some learn faster while others believe in the proverb: slow but steady wins the race.
Sometimes you do not have sufficient strength, while at others it’s just too hard on yourself to go beyond a few pushups.
So doing a modified pushup act as a foundation block for your strength training. Here your muscles, chest, and shoulders will learn how to handle bodyweight and strengthen over time.
How To: Start by lying down flat on the floor/mat with your hands on sides aligned just below your shoulders. Now raise on to the kneeling position with your toes and knees touching the ground.
Maintain a straight back/torso and hold your leg together. Now lower down bending your elbow to place your chest up close to the floor. Hold your knees and feet in position as you approach the floor.
Wait for a moment and slowly return to a previous kneeling position. Make sure you do not collapse on the ground as you move down. If struggling tries wall pushups for some time and then try again. Do 3-5 sets of 30 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Upper Chest + Triceps
4 ) Slow Motion Push-Up
Pushups are hard and when you do it slowly it becomes harder. If you not done it before then just try and see for yourself. It is contrary to the popular belief that faster means better in the fitness industry.
When you do pushups at a standard pace your momentum helps do a few more reps than what’s you would otherwise.
For example, if I do 15 pushups I might give up at just 7 when doing it slowly. Going slow you increase the time under tension. This means more pressure on your chest, triceps and shoulder muscles.
How To: Start by lying in a basic pushup position. Maintain a good pushup position with your hands on the ground perfectly aligned to your chest.
Now lift up slowly to a fully extended arm position as you slightly push your toes. Maintain a straight posture briefly and then slowly get back to the lower position.
Now do 3 sets of 10 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
5 ) Atlas Pushups
If you are tired of your standard pushups and want to increase your effort level. Here is this variation of standard pushups named atlas pushup that does the job.
The atlas pushup is one of the best bodyweight exercises for your upper chest at a beginner level. It is an elevated pushup with an elevation. While the method is all but the same as to the standard pushup; it involves to do that on a definite platform.
The platform needs to be separate for the two hands; you have to go deep in between them while the pushups. These platforms can be in the form of plates, chair or bars.
How To: Place two platforms approximately 18 to 24 inches apart. You may also use pushup bars for the same ( Check Price on Amazon! ).
Now place your palm on each platform with arms in a fully extended condition. Make sure your legs stay together and your toes facing down. Now maintaining a good posture leans downwards as close to the floor.
Hold for a moment and slowly return to your initial position. Do 5 sets of 15 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Upper Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
6 ) Wide Grip Pushups
Also known as the wide hand’s pushups it’s your regular pushups performed with a wider hand position than normal. It’s quite tough to perform if you are a beginner or lacks sufficient strength.
It focuses more on your pectoral muscles ( 40% inner and 60% outer ) and strengthens the upper part of your chest.
This is a challenging pushup variation that targets more on your chest than biceps and shoulders. It is one such exercise that should be taken with a grain of salt.
It is beneficial at a small or moderate amount but doing it doo fast and too often may negatively affect your shoulders. So always take it as an addon and not your standard bodyweight chest exercises.
How To: Start with a normal pushup position with your hands wider that before. Ideally, it should be about 2.5-3.0 feet apart with your fingers facing outwards.
Now bend down just as in standard pushup, hold for a moment at the bottom and then get back to the initial position. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Upper Chest + Shoulders
7 ) Traditional Hindu Pushups
Followed for centuries by Indian martial arts and wrestlers; it targets various muscles set at once. This traditional workout strengthens your abdomen, serratus anterior, triceps, biceps, deltoid, hips, spine flexor, and pectoral muscles.
It can be a great alternative to those boring standard pushups; which is also easier and offer less challenge.
The Hindu pushup is more challenging, simple to perform and a better chest workout that targets different body parts all at once. The unique swinging action involves both concentric and eccentric movements.
Thus acting as a hybrid of various pushups variations. Additionally, it is one of the few exercises that also lubricate your joints and aid in better mobility while still building your chest.
How To: Start by getting into the pushup position with flat back and your feet hip-width apart. Now raise your butt a little backward forming an inverted V.
Now move your chest down towards the floor in a swinging action. For simplicity, you may first lower your chest bending your elbows while still keeping your hip up.
Lower your torso and then move your chest up forming an arch. You need to get into the yoga upward dog position. Once reached hold and then return back to the initial position. Do 2 sets of 20 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Full upper body.
8 ) Pike Push-Up
If you find Hindu pushup a little too challenging try this pike pushup. It’s more challenging and versatile. If you want to add mass or tone your shoulder and chest this is the exercise to do regularly.
Since it targets your shoulder more than your chest this allows you to train and strengthen some of the weak areas of your shoulder.
Additionally, it helps improve core stability and improve overall flexibility. If you are looking to build a rock-solid shoulder; it is a perfect variant of bodyweight exercises for your need.
How To: If you did yoga exercise simply get into a downward-facing dog position. If not place your hands and legs at shoulder-width apart. Now by keeping your hips high while your heels low; form an inverted V position.
Make sure your elbows are in a fully extended position and your head straight to the floor.
Now lower your head and chest downward bending your elbows. Touch your head to the ground and then slowly return to your inverted V position. Here you do not need to alter your hip position as you go down.
Muscles Involved: Deltoid anterior + pectoral + triceps.
9 ) Diamond Pushups
Diamond pushups are an advanced pushup type that works your chest, shoulders, core, and back with more emphasis on your triceps. Also known as the triangle pushup; here the hands are kept within the shoulders.
It is called diamond or triangle pushup because here your hands literally form a triangle/diamond. The real point of this is the extra pressure on your triceps as you do your pushups.
This makes it quite hard to perform for the beginners. This exercise too has its own variations in the form of standard diamond pushup and decline diamond pushup.
How To: Get on your fours with your hand forming a triangle ( Join your index finger and thumb ) just under your chest.
At the start, your arms should be I fully extended condition and your body in a straight line. Now lower your body while keeping your elbow tucked in tight. Meaning does not flare your elbows outwards.
Go as low as possible hold for a moment and return back to the initial position. Make sure you exhale while moving up as it helps when working against the gravity. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps ( Targeted ) + Shoulders.
10 ) One leg Pushups
Doing one leg pushup requires greater core strength to perform. making it one of the difficult pushups variants.
In this workout, you mainly work on your pectoral muscles, anterior deltoid, triceps, external oblique, quads, glutes, and hamstring. It is one such exercise that involves almost the entire body.
When doing this pushup you work on your chest; with quads on the leg in air and hamstring in the leg on the ground. For best result alternate your legs after every 5-10 reps.
How To: Get into a standard pushup position with your hand’s shoulder-width apart and elbows in a fully extended condition. Now raise your left leg ensuring you maintain a straight posture.
keeping your body in one straight line now performs 5 regular pushups ( lower your body till your chest is close to the floor, hold for a moment and return to initial position) and switch your legs.
Muscles Involved: Chest + core + triceps + legs + glutes
11 ) Staggered Arm Pushup
A staggered arm pushup is the most efficient and hard form of a standard pushup. The exercise requires your hands under a staggered position meaning one forward while other back of the shoulder line.
In involves your chest, arms, biceps, triceps, and shoulder. Many times it is used as a training exercise for one-hand pushups. While the return per hour spent is quite high for this workout; its risky for beginners and persons with past shoulder injuries.
Overall it involves an asymmetric workout of your core muscles.
How To: Start by getting into a pushup position with your hands placed wider than your shoulders. Now place one hand a little lower than shoulder while keeping the other hand in place.
Support yourself by keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe. Then slowly lower your chest till it almost touches the floor; bend your elbows while still maintaining the straight posture.
Now hold for a moment and return exhaling and repeat again. Now perform 5-10 pushups and switch hands. Do at least 2 sets of 10 reps from each hand.
Muscles Involved: Front deltoids + pectoral + triceps.
12 ) Side To Side Pushup
Side to side pushup is an advance pushup type that is super challenging but easy to attain from a basic pushup. This means if you already know how to do the basic pushup; you are almost ready to take on the challenge.
It has two major variations; knee and power type. Both create muscular tension in the chest and your triceps. If you want to train for the one hand pushup; this one is a good beginner step.
Since you do not bend your elbows for your assistant arm; it activates more muscles working more on your biceps, chest, and shoulder.
How To: Get into basic pushup position but with your hands a little wide than normal. Now lean to one side as you lower your body. Make sure your assistant head elbows are in fully extended condition stretching your hand to the other side.
Hold to the position for a moment and slowly raise to initial pushup position. Then repeat the process on the opposite side. If you feel this a bit too tricky or hard; perform again kneeling down on your floor.
Do at least 4 sets of 10 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
13 ) One Hand Pushups
The one-hand pushup is one among all bodyweight exercises that you can not perform until you develop sufficient core strength. That is why one arm pushups are learned in progression.
Even when you do it regularly one needs to do a quick warmup of all these exercises before going after this.
This warmup exercise includes pushup variations like; standard pushup, diamond pushup, one arm wall pushup, staggered arm pushup and side to side pushup.
If you are confident of your core strength and want to further strengthen your core, shoulders, and triceps; why not challenge yourself with this extremely hard one harm pushup.
If performed well and with caution, this workout gives 2X results of all other bodyweight exercises. While if you do the mistake to jump directly to one hand pushups its will surely damage your arm.
How To: Start by getting into the pushup position but with your legs a little wider than usual. Place your one hand behind your back while still managing to balance yourself.
Now lower your chest bending your other hand elbow just as you were performing a standard pushup but with just one hand. Hold for a moment at the bottom and return to idle.
Repeat this exercise for just 6 to 18 times with alternate hands each 3rd pushups.
Muscles Involved: Complete Upper Body.
14 ) Clap Pushups
Let’s face it not everyone can perform a single arm/hand pushup. Afterall its the toughest of all bodyweight exercises. No matter how hard you try or train it is still a little more tricky and challenging to do; plus there is always a risk involved.
But what if there is something comparable among various bodyweight exercises. One that not give the same but almost similar results but with no risks or that much effort.
Yes, clap pushup is a workout that does its due need with no string attached. It is also an advanced pushup type that strengthens your chest, shoulder, and triceps.
How To: Get into a standard pushup position with your hand at shoulder-width apart. Now lower your body moving your chest close to the floor.
Hold for a moment and push upwards with a greater power to generate speed. While in the air brings your hand together in a clap position.
Clap and reach for the ground. Do 2-3 sets of 12 reps each.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders
15 ) Grasshopper Pushups
It is one bodyweight workout that targets both your complete upper body and the core. Adding these multiple target workouts add variations to your routine and help get faster results.
In this exercise, the primary muscles working out are your chest, obliques, traps, triceps, and abductors. While the secondary muscles worked are your abdomen, quads, and glutes.
Doing this workout you not just strengthen your upper body, burn calories but also improve your balance and reaction time. While many other pushup variations do not activate your core; it is one that works on your core with your chest.
How To: Start with a standard pushup position with your hand’s shoulder-width apart. Make sure you make a straight body posture to get the best results.
Now go down bending your elbows as your chest almost touches the floor. Hold for a moment and raise again. Then rather than repeating the same procedure swing your left leg underneath ( kicking it through ) your right and hold.
Return to pushup position do one standard pushup and then swing again. Now repeat this procedure for 10-15 times and switch legs.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders + Core
16 ) Inch Worm Pushups
Working out is more like the habit of eating; you might like a particular exercise but soon get bored if not add variations. That is what all these bodyweight exercises are for.
When it comes to easy but interesting exercises Inchworm pushups are really great. It’s so easy beginners can easily do without much effort.
The inchworm bodyweight exercise offers a little bit of everything; targetting almost every major part of our body. This acts as a perfect warm-up exercise activating total blood flow to various organs at a time.
How To: Start by standing straight on one side of your yoga mat or floor. Bend down putting your hands on the floor/mat. Make sure your legs are as straight as possible.
Now walk on your hands to get on plank position keeping your legs straight. Perform one regular pushup and return back to standing position walking on your hands; now in reverse order.
Do 3 sets of 12-15 reps each.
17 ) Chest Dips
Chest dips are a compound bodyweight workout that involves lifting yourself between two handles or bars. It is another great bodyweight workout that pulls great effort from your body. It’s so popular that many gyms have a separate platform for dips.
If done right chest dips help relieve shoulder pain; but if done wrong for a longer time it may damage your arm for a short or long time.
The best part is you can be very creative with this exercise. It activates more muscle group than other cheats workouts ex: targeting outer chest; more efficient, easy to master and straight forward.
How To: Get in between the two pillars; grab the bar and jump. Lift up as your arms are under fully extended condition and your legs in the air. You may cross your legs if you want based on preference.
Now dip down lowering your body while leaning a little towards the front. Go as low as practically possible and then rise up straight with your elbows fully extended.
Repeat the procedure for the recommended number of times. These number varies based on your level and strength.
Muscles Involved: Chest + Triceps + Shoulders + Core
General Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and does not intended to replace an informed medical opinion. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, sleep habits, dietary supplements, or a new exercise routine.