Bodyweight Chest Exercises You Can do At Home

Anyone could agree: Powerful pecs are huge for creating an irresistible physique. (That’s why they call it pectoralis major.)

But can you develop a chest Greek gods would be jealous of with just your bodyweight?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: You ready to work?

You can most definitely create the chest you so desire with an arsenal of bodyweight chest exercises, and that’s what we’re here for.

In this guide, we’ll give you a full overview of exercises for that thick, manly chest, as well as how to structure your chest workout at home.

Why Bodyweight Chest Exercises?

Before the age of gym memberships and sweaty locker rooms, there was the great outdoors.

Somehow, in the early times, there were those who had unbelievable muscular development, especially in their chest.

How was this possible? One word: Calisthenics.

Bodyweight chest exercises have an impressive array of benefits:

Bodyweight chest exercises are cost effective

Today got away from you; it’s 11 PM, the gym is closed, you can’t get your workout in…oh, wait. With calisthenics, you aren’t beholden to a time or place. Get your workout on at the park, at home, in the early morning or late at night.

Anyone can do them

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you can do these exercises. Push-ups on your knees, your toes, elevated, or one-handed – there’s a push-up for every individual.

They’re a great way to stay injury-free

These exercises don’t require massive amounts of weights to get the desired effects. You still gain muscle mass, without the heavy bar suspended ominously over your neck. Sound good? As long as you’re loose, you should avoid injuries and stay on track to build that kickass chest.

If that sounds good to you, then let’s proceed to the complete list of chest exercises.

The Complete List of Bodyweight Chest Exercises

Below is a comprehensive list of all bodyweight chest lifts. For each exercise, we go into basic how-to, equipment you may need to perform the movement, scaling for those below or above the classic version skill level, as well as variations for targeting the four different areas of the pecs

As a quick note, you can adapt most of the original exercises (push-ups, dips, etc.) to hit all four areas of the chest.

For example, with the push-up you can target your upper chest by elevating your feet, or lower by elevating your hands, or inner chest by moving your hands closer together, or outer chest by spreading your hands wide.

The cool thing is, with bodyweight workouts you get complex movements that hit multiple areas simultaneously. This is why we don’t need to focus on inner or outer chest; you can simply alter hand placement for most of the exercises and you can focus on one or the other.

Keep this in mind when you’re creating your calisthenics chest workout routine.

Read Also: Calisthenics for Beginners (9 key workouts and more…)

Bodyweight Chest Exercises for Beginners

These chest exercises are great if you’re just starting out with bodyweight exercises.

Standard Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Pectorals, triceps, biceps, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

They’re simple, require no equipment, and train the same muscles as a bench press does.

How to Do a Standard push-up: 
  • Start in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
  • Bend your elbows and descend toward the floor (keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle).
  • When your chest touches the floor, pause. Keep your core and glutes tight.
  • Push up from the floor back to the top of a plank. Repeat.
Scaling:

Perform push-ups from your knees, or practice push-up negatives.

(In a push-up negative, you start at the top of a push-up and descend to the floor as slowly as you can. This is a good way to “trick” your brain into getting the stimulus of a push-up before you can do the full range of motion.)

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

All you need is floor space. Start with 3 sets of 10 and work your way up, adding 2 to 5 reps each time you workout.


Slow Motion Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Pectorals, triceps, biceps, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

The slow motion forces your shoulders, chest, and triceps to stabilize your body as you descend to the floor and return up. The smaller muscles in your upper body get an extra workout and you may get an extra pump, too.

Read also: Why Body weight Lunges are The Key to Creating Incredibly Powerful Legs

How to Do a Slow Motion Push-up: 
  • Start in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
  • Bend your elbows and descend toward the floor (keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle).
    • In your head or out loud, count to 4. Do not touch your chest to the floor until you hit 4.
  • When your chest touches the floor, pause. Keep your core and glutes tight.
  • Push up from the floor back to the top of a plank. Again, it should take 4 seconds to return to the top.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Start with 2 or 3 seconds on each rep, or start from the knees.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 6 is a good place to start. Add 1 rep per workout and build up over time.


Wide Grip Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Pectorals, shoulders, lats, triceps.

What Makes Them So Effective:

The wider grip works your chest muscles in a different way, and forces your lats to engage to keep you upright when you descend.

How to Do a Wide Grip Push-up: 
  • Start in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
    • Place your hands further than shoulder width apart (approximately 6 inches outside of shoulder-width)
  • Bend your elbows and descend toward the floor (keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle).
  • When your chest touches the floor, pause. Keep your core and glutes tight.
  • Push up from the floor back to the top of a plank. Repeat.
Scaling:

Bring your hands in more (3 inches instead of 6), or start from your knees.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 8 reps. Add 1 rep each time you perform these in your workouts.

Pike Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Shoulders, lats, chest, triceps, core.

What Makes Them So Effective:

Great for training shoulder strength and upper body stability. These are also a great beginner exercise to get your first handstand push-up.

Read also: The Benefits Of Calisthenics: 8 Reasons To Do Body Weight Workouts

How to Do a Pike Push-up: 
  • Start in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
  • Bring your hips up in the air to a downward dog yoga position. Hold it. Look at your toes.
  • Bend your elbows and bring your head and torso toward the floor (keep your elbows close to your body)
  • When your head touches the floor, pause. Keep your core and glutes tight.
  • Push up from the floor back to the top of a pike position. Repeat.
Scaling:

Limit the range of motion. Put an ab mat underneath your head and only descend to that at first.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Ab mat or soft surface to perform reps on. Start with 3×3 and focus on form, then slowly build up over time.


Inner and Outer Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Pectorals, triceps, biceps, core, lats.

What Makes Them So Effective:

These alternate between working your chest muscles and really blasting your triceps. They also force your core to stabilize while you’re moving which is a good workout for your abs and obliques.

How to Do a Inner and Outer push-up: 
  • Start in a modified plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
    • Place your hands approximately 6 inches away from each other (narrow-grip push-up).
  • Do a narrow grip push-up.
  • At the top of the rep, reposition your left hand so that it’s out wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Do a wide-grip push-up.
  • Keep alternating reps.
Scaling:

Perform these from your knees, or do them in small reps until you get the hang of it.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 8 (4 on each side). Add 1-2 reps each time you do these.

Read also: Pistol Squat Progressions – Get Super Strong Legs With This One Calisthenics Exercise


Incline Pushup

Muscles Being Worked:

Shoulders, lower chest muscles, triceps, back.

What Makes Them So Effective:

The decreased angle of the reps target the lower chest muscles, which don’t get as much of a workout in a normal push-up.

How to Do an Incline Push-up: 
  • Start with your hands on a raised box or other sturdy surface in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
  • Follow all the cues of a regular push-up; fight to keep your core tight and your hips from sagging as you fatigue.
  • Repeat.
Scaling

Lower the incline or decrease the number of reps.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Box, couch, or other sturdy elevated surface. Start at 3×5 and add reps accordingly.


Intermediate Bodyweight Chest Exercises

Once you’ve mastered the beginner exercises, or when you’re ready for a challenge, give these a try.

Floating X Plank

Muscles Being Worked:

Full-body (especially your core).

What Makes Them So Effective:

These floating x planks force your core to stabilize as your legs sway back and forth. They’re fantastic for a post-WOD ab/oblique session or for building your abs up for summer.

How to Do a Floating X Plank:
  • Set your feet into the rings or TRX bands behind you. Get into a full plank.
  • In your plank, bring your right arm across your body to touch your left side. This should be slow and controlled; avoid swaying.
  • Return your right arm, then repeat on the left side.
Scaling:

Practice these on a stable elevated surface first.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Rings or TRX bands. 3 sets of 8 touches (4 on each side) to start.


Decline Diamond Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Triceps, lower chest muscles, core.

What Makes Them So Effective:

Again, these target your lower chest muscles which are neglected in a traditional push-up.

How to Do a Decline Diamond Push-up: 
  • Start with your feet on a raised box or other sturdy surface in a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
    • Bring your hands together close, so that together, your fingertips look like a diamond.
  • Follow all the cues of a regular push-up; fight to keep your core tight and your hips from sagging as you fatigue.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Lower the height of the elevated sturdy surface for your feet, or spread your hands slightly aprt.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Box, chair, or other sturdy surface.


Single-Leg Knuckle Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, forearms, core, hips.

What Makes Them So Effective:

These add a unilateral component to the traditional push-up, forcing you to maintain stability on one side of the body while you do your reps.

How to Do a Single Leg Knuckle Push-up: 
  • Follow all the cues of a regular push-up (several descriptions are listed above).
    • Instead of having your hands on the floor, start on your knuckles with a closed fist.
  • Without bending the knee, lift your right leg off the ground slightly.
  • Bend your elbows and do a push-up. Keep the leg off the ground the entire time.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Put an ab mat or towel under you so you don’t have to do the full ROM at first.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

None, unless you’re scaling; then you’ll need a towel.


Sliding Fly

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, lats, biceps, shoulders, triceps.

What Makes Them So Effective:

These are incredibly challenging and truly will test your upper body strength and stability.

How to Do a Sliding Fly: 
  • Start at the top of a push-up with your hands on two 2.5lb plates or other slidable object.
  • Instead of descending to the floor, slowly side your hands out laterally; go as far as you can before you fall to the floor.
  • Return to the top of a push-up.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Limit your ROM; only move a few inches laterally at first if that’s all you can do.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Sliding plates or other object that will move on a gym floor.


Uneven Pushup

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, core (especially obliques, triceps, biceps, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

Elevating one side at a time forces one side of your chest to work much harder than the other, which ups the stimulus you’re getting and drives gains.

How to Do an Uneven Push-up: 
  • Start in the top of a plank position (four points of contact with the floor: two hands, two feet).
    • This time, start with your left hand on top of a box, yoga block, or other sturdy raised object (you can use a medicine ball if you’re really strong).
  • Perform a regular push-up. Repeat the desired number of reps, then switch sides.
Scaling:

Use a smaller object so the difference isn’t quite as stark. Even a small plate is a good way to practice these.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

A small raised object (25lb plate, yoga block, medicine ball, box, etc.)


Wide Grip Crucifix Push up

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, lats, biceps, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

These are the widest of the wide push-ups; they’ll really blast your chest muscles and force the rest of your upper body to work together.

How to Do a Wide Grip Crucifix Push-up: 
  • Start in a very wide push-up position (four points of contact still, just with your hands out as wide as you can go; you should look like a cross from the top).
  • Descend down like a normal push-up. You’ll only be able to go a few inches.
  • Push up, then repeat.
Scaling:

Bring the arms in or just try wide-grip push-ups to start.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 6 to 8 is a good place to start.


Advanced Bodyweight Chest Exercises

If you’re a push-up guru, these will be in your wheelhouse. Good luck!

Extended Arm Pushup

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, lats, shoulders, core.

What Makes Them So Effective:

You’re essentially forcing yourself to do a pushup and a pull-up like motion at the same time (the contraction of your lats is insane during this exercise).

How to Do an Extended Arm Push-up: 
  • Start in an extended arm push-up position—four points of contact still, but with your arms (straight) way out in front of your head.
  • Perform a push-up like regular.
    • Since your hands are out way in front of your head, your elbows will only bend slightly and should not flare out at all.
Scaling:

Crawl your hands in closer to a normal push-up.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 3 to 5 to start.


Grasshopper Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, triceps, abs, obliques, lower back, and hips—pretty much everything!

What Makes Them So Effective:

These turn an upper body chest workout into a killer core and cardio training session.

How to Do a Grasshopper Push-up: 
  • Start in the top of a plank or push-up position (four points of contact).
  • Do a regular pushup; at the top, bring your right leg off the floor and underneath your body, touching the outside of your shin and thigh to the ground.
  • Return your right leg.
  • Do another push-up, then repeat the movement with your left leg.
  • Continue alternating.
Scaling:

Bring the leg off the ground but don’t tuck it underneath.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 8. Progress in even numbers so you do a rep on each side.


Clapping Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, triceps, core, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

Clapping push-ups help develop the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your upper body. You’ll be a more explosive athlete from doing these.

How to Do a Clapping Push-up: 
  • Start in the top of a push-up or plank position (four points of contact).
  • Descend to the bottom of a push-up like normal; at the bottom, push up explosively. Your arms should leave the ground.
  • While you’re momentarily off the ground, clap your hands together. Quickly return your hands to catch yourself in the top of a push-up.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Practice explosive push-ups (no clap) first.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of 5 to 8 with good form. If you can’t clap or have to “kip” your way up, reduce the reps.


Decline Wall Push-Up

Muscles Being Worked:

Shoulders, chest, triceps. Your core does a lot of work here to stabilize, too.

What Makes Them So Effective:

These are a great way to start working on your handstand push-ups.

How to Do a Decline Wall Push-up: 
  • Start with your feet flat against a wall in the bottom of a push-up; climb your feet up the wall so that they’re above your head.
    • Maintain a tight core here; no sagging of the hips.
  • Perform regular push-ups like usual—bend the elbows 45-degrees, and touch your chest to the ground on each rep.
  • When you’re done, slowly climb your way back down the wall.
Scaling:

Start with your feet lower on the wall.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

3 sets of as many good reps as you can do with perfect form. Don’t compromise technique or safety here to get a few extra repetitions in.


Dips

Muscles Being Worked:

Triceps, chest, forearms, biceps.

What Makes Them So Effective:

Besides push-ups, these are the single best chest workout you can do without equipment meaning dips can easily be carried out at home. Get ready to really target your triceps, too, which are essential for developing a strong chest.

How to Do a Dip: 
  • Place your hands on a set of rings or parallettes; bring your feet off the ground and position your head in front of the rings.
  • Bending at the elbows, descend to the bottom of the dip. Keep your feet in front of your body for balance.
  • Drive up to a lockout. Once your arms are straight, the rep is complete.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Scale to box or chair dips.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Rings, parallettes, or a box or sturdy chair. 3 sets of 8 dips is a good place to start, whether on the rings or with parallettes.


Ring Chest Flys

Muscles Being Worked:

Chest, triceps, biceps, shoulders.

What Makes Them So Effective:

This is a great exercise for packing on serious amounts of muscle in your chest. They’ll leave you quite sore the first time you do them, so start slow!

How to Do a Ring Chest Fly:
  • Start from a standing position with your hands on the rings or TRX bands.
  • Bring your body forward, slowly. Allow your straight arms to move out to the side, as if you’re forming a cross with your body (this happens slowly, too).
  • Go as far as you can. You’ll feel tons of tension in your shoulders and chest as you descend toward the floor.
  • Once you can go no further, “close the door” with your arms. Keep them straight, but bring your arms back together as you come back to a stand.
  • Repeat.
Scaling:

Practice with dumbbells first, or only go down part of the way on the rings or TRX bands.

Equipment Required & Recommended Repetitions:

Rings or TRX bands. 3 sets of 3 to start, and work your way up slowly.

Bodyweight Chest Workout Example

“Wait a minute,” you’re saying right now, “that’s it? That’s all of the chest exercises?”

Well…yeah.

Developing a godly chest via bodyweight exercises is both limited and unlimited.

What I mean is, while there are only a handful of structural exercises – dips, push-ups, flyes – there are multiple variations of these movements, which adds to the difficulty and keeps your workouts interesting and fresh.

Therefore, your bodyweight chest workout plan will be incredibly simple to follow, but not easy.

To wit: Your chest workout will consist of one dip variation and one push-up variation, for a number of sets and reps, ending with a superset of ring flyes.

This will fatigue your pectoral muscles and metabolically fatigue your central nervous system, resulting in an all-around taxing workout.

Chest Workout:

  1. Dips progression (hardest variation you can do): 3×4-15
  2. Push-ups progression (hardest or second hardest variation you can do): 3×4-15
  3. Ring Chest Flys Superset: 3×10-15 + 3×10-15 (same variation or one lower)

Notes:

  • Make dips your priority. It develops the pectorals the best, so focus on progressing in this movement.
  • How many reps you can do tells you when to progress where. If you are doing an exercise for 4-6 reps every time, you need to perfect that movement and up your reps. Conversely, if you’re consistently getting 13-15 reps on an exercise, it’s time to progress up the exercise ladder (normal push-ups to archer push-ups or bench dips to negative dips).
  • The last exercise – ring chest flys – is not meant for muscle mass. Instead, keep the reps up in the double digits. You can get a little sloppy at the end of these intense supersets (as long as you stay smart about your abilities). This should drain you of all remaining energy. Both your muscle and your central nervous system should be shot by the end.

This is only a sample workout; cater it to your own needs and goals.

Amount: 2-3 exercises for your chest, reaching both metabolic and muscular fatigue.

Frequency: 2-3 times per week is plenty. This allows for adequate recovery time.

Volume: 4-15 reps; The first portion (4-7) develops strength in a movement, while the second portion (8-15) invokes hypertrophy, or muscle growth. Anything above 15 repetitions gets into the endurance type of workout.

Time: Doing three chest exercises for 54-180 reps total shouldn’t take longer than 25 minutes, or eight minutes per exercise.

Conclusion

Creating a thick, muscular chest can be simple and challenging with calisthenics.

Using a few complex chest exercises – with only your body weight for the load – will give you consistent, injury-free muscle growth.

You can do this kind of workout wherever, whenever, which means no excuses! Get sore and sweaty with a workout that breaks your muscle tissue down and gets you out of breath.

And while there are multiple variations, if you stick to the basics and structure your exercises to your goals, you’ll be unstoppable.

Pair this with auxiliary triceps movements two or three times a week, and you’ll have a godly chest in no time!

Follow these guidelines, and your chest will attract the attention you deserve. Power up those pecs!

Jake Lyda

Jake Lyda

I'm a freelance fitness and nutrition writer who loves to travel, train, and play team sports. I'm a true workout nerd and love to educate people about their bodies and how to optimize their physique.

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2 thoughts on “Bodyweight Chest Exercises You Can do At Home”

  1. Hey man! Great workout. One question though. What’s the optimal way to execute it; 3 x dips followed bij 3 x push ups followed by 3 supersets, Or 1 set dips 1 set push ups 1 set flys times 3? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Ralph,
      Generally it is recommended to finish the sets for one exercise and then move to the next exercise and its sets, but it depends on your conditioning as well. If you don’t believe you will be able to do the last exercise in good form then it would be better to do 1 set each, so you are ensuring you are activating all muscles from this routine. Hope that helps.

      Reply

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