17 Best Bodyweight Chest Exercises to Get Pumped Anywhere

A fully developed, well-defined chest is the epitome of strength and masculinity. Most people think that to get one, you’ve got to put your time in on the bench press, rep out on the pec-dec, and do an endless number of dumbbell flyes.

However, there is another way. Bodyweight training provides the opportunity to build a complete chest anywhere, anytime. In this article, we present the 17 best bodyweight chest exercises to allow you to hit your pecs from all angles anytime you desire.

Acknowledging the Push-Up

The single best bodyweight chest exercise is undoubtedly the standard push-up. This exercise is a reverse movement of the bench press, which is the number one gym-based chest worker.

A 2015 study, published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, found that the standard push-up provides similar strength gains to the bench press, when done at comparable levels of muscle activity.

The standard push-up works more than your chest muscles. It will also strengthen and develop your deltoids, triceps, and core. You will notice that most of the exercises to follow are a variation of the push-up, just as most chest-targeted weight training exercises are variations of the bench press. Pay careful attention to the differences in performance of these exercises. Each one works your chest muscles slightly differently and at different levels of intensity.

6 Beginner Bodyweight Chest Exercises

Exercise #1: Standard Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Lie face down on the floor with your hands shoulder width apart. Lift up to a fully extended arm position. Your feet should also be shoulder width apart. Your body should form a straight line without sagging at the hips.
  • Lower yourself down to the floor, moving in a perfectly plane position. Go down until your nose touches the floor.
  • Keeping your core tight and your body perfectly flat, push back to the start position.

Exercise #2: Slow Motion Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a normal push-up position with shoulders just over your hands.
  • Lower yourself to a count of 15 seconds as you lower to the ground.
  • Count another 15 seconds as you push up to return to the start position.

Exercise #3: Wide Grip Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Outer Pectorals
  • Secondary: Front deltoids

Execution method:

  • Assume a normal push-up position but with your hands out wide and fingers turned out. Your hands should be straight out from your shoulders.
  • Drop down into a full push-up position.
  • Push back to return to the start position.

Exercise #4: Pike Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Upper Pectorals
  • Secondary: Front deltoids

Execution method:

  • Assume a normal push-up position. Now lift your butt up slightly so that your arms are at a 25-degree angle to your torso.
  • Lower yourself down so that your chin touches the ground.
  • Exhale as you push back up. Make sure that you don’t allow your butt to lift too high.

Exercise #5: Inner & Outer Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a normal push-up position. Start by doing a normal push-up.
  • As you explode out of the bottom position, bring your hands together until fingers are touching.
  • Perform a close grip push-up. In the top position spread your hand back to shoulder width.

Exercise #6: Incline Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Lower Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Position yourself in front of a box or chair that is 16-18 inches off the floor.
  • Rest your hands on the outside of the box or chair, with your feet about four feet away. Your body should form a 45-degree angle when your arms are extended.
  • Lower yourself toward the box.
  • Exhale as you push straight up. Keep your elbows and arms over the box / chair at all times. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout.

6 Intermediate Bodyweight Chest Exercises

Exercise #7: Floating X Plank

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Outer Pectorals
  • Secondary: Front deltoids

Execution method:

  • Assume a plank position with your feet together and arms spread wide at shoulder level.
  • Lower your torso and arms to a mid push-up position.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. Resist the urge to push towards your backside. Keep your body in line and your core tight.

Exercise #8: Decline Diamond Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Upper Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • With your feet elevated on a chair assume a push-up position with your fingers touching in a diamond formation. Your body should form a straight line.
  • Lower down to bring your chest toward the ground.
  • Push through your chest and arms to return to the start point. Keep your body straight and your core tight. Your elbows should be close to your sides throughout.

Exercise #9: Single Leg Knuckle Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a regular push-up position but rest on your knuckles rather than your palms.
  • As you lower into the bottom push-up position, lift one leg off the ground. Keep it elevated throughout the movement.

Keep your core tight and do not allow your butt to lift. Your body should be solely supported by the toes of one foot and the knuckles. Do one set on one leg and then switch to the other leg on the next set.

Exercise #10: Sliding Fly

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Inner / Outer Pectorals
  • Secondary: Front deltoids

Execution method:

  • With a cloth or similar item in each hand, assume a push up position so that the towels make contact with the floor.
  • Allow the hands to slide out all the way from your shoulders to bring the chest down to the floor.
  • With an exhale squeeze back in strongly. Engage and feel the stretch through the pecs as you stretch down and squeeze back up.

Note: This exercise will not work on a carpeted floor.

Exercise #11: Uneven Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume the regular start position of a push-up but with one hand on inverted plastic bowl or similar item.
  • Perform a normal push-up, feeling for a deep stretch in the elevated arm.
  • Do the same number of reps with both sides.

Exercise #12: Wide Grip Crucifix Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Outer Pectorals
  • Secondary: Front deltoids / Rhomboids

Execution method:

  • Assume a standard push-up position but extend your arms out wide.
  • Push yourself up as high as possible. Lower back down - you will only be moving about 6-8 inches.
  • Exhale as you push up. Be sure to press evenly with both arms. Ensure that your arms are straight out from your shoulders and that your core is tight.

5 Advanced Bodyweight Chest Exercises

Exercise #13: Extended Arm Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps / Front deltoids

Execution method:

  • Get into a normal push-up position. Now stagger your arms so that one is in front of and the other behind the level of your shoulders.
  • Go down into a bottom push-up position.
  • Focus on pushing up with just your extended arm and that side of your chest.
  • Do the same number of reps on both sides.

Exercise #14: Grasshopper Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Get into a normal push-up position, making sure that your hands are in line with the elbows.
  • Perform a push-up. As you go down, bring your knee left across to touch your right elbow.
  • On the next rep alternate the movement, so that the right knee comes across to the left elbow.

Exercise #15: Clapping Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Assume a traditional push-up position.
  • Lower your body to the ground.
  • Explode back up to push your upper body off the ground. Bring your hands together to clap at the highest point.
  • Lower back to the start position.

Exercise #16: Decline Wall Push-Up

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Upper Pectorals
  • Secondary: Deltoids

Execution method:

  • Kneel in front of a wall, with your feet braced against the wall.
  • Supporting yourself with hands below your shoulders, walk your feet up the wall. At the same time, walk your hands out until your body forms a 45-degree angle from the floor.
  • Lower your chest down to the floor to feel a strong expansion of the pecs.
  • Push back to the start position.

Exercise #17: Dips

Muscles Involved:

  • Primary: Inner Pectorals
  • Secondary: Triceps

Execution method:

  • Place two sturdy chairs 20 inches apart with the seats facing away from each other.
  • Stand between the chairs with hands gripping the top of each back support.
  • Lift yourself up so that you are elevated from the floor at full arm extension. Cross your feet over.
  • Lean slightly forward as you lower yourself down to a full extension.
  • Push through your chest and triceps to rise back up.

Structuring Your Chest Workout

The seventeen best bodyweight chest exercises described above will allow you to advance your chest training along a progressive continuum of increasing difficulty.

If you haven’t exercised your chest regularly before, start with the Beginner moves. Select four of them, making sure to include the standard push-up. Start with the standard push-up, performing as many reps as you can until failure, where you cannot perform another full rep.

Rest for 90 seconds.

Now move to the next exercise. On this exercise, your goal is to come within 10 reps of the rep count you achieved on the first exercise.

After another 90 second rest, begin your third exercise, again trying to come within ten reps of your last set.

Repeat this pattern for the fourth exercise.

After a two to three minute rest, repeat the entire sequence of four exercises again, with 90 seconds rest between each move.

Your workout will consist of a total of three rounds of these four exercises.

After four weeks on the beginner workout, you should be ready to tackle the more challenging intermediate level program. Again select four moves to include in your program. Rotate the other two exercises into the routine over the course of the next month to add variety.

Follow the same workout pattern as in month one.

During the third month of training, you should be ready to step up to the advanced level workout. Follow the same training pattern as previously by choosing four exercises to train in circuit fashion for a total of three rounds.

Exercise Cadence

To get maximum benefit from the bodyweight exercises that you’ll be using, you should utilize the training concepts of time under tension and explosive power. Here’s how to do it:

  • On the negative or lowering portion of the exercise, increase the time under tension by using a 4-second descent. As an example, in the push-up, slowly lower yourself to the floor at a 4-second count.
  • On the positive, or lifting part of the movement, explosively push your body up. In the push-up, from the lowered position you would explode up to the start position.

Conclusion

You can develop an impressive chest without ever stepping foot in a gym. The 17 bodyweight chest exercises that are now a part of your training arsenal are very effective mass builders as well as pectoral shapers. To fully benefit from them, though, you will have to push yourself on every workout.

Because you are not adding extra resistance in the form of weight plates, you will find yourself doing higher reps on your bodyweight exercises than if you were training with weights. This will require that you train to complete muscular failure.

And what does complete muscular failure mean?

Let’s allow perhaps the greatest athlete of modern times to explain...

When asked by a reporter how many push-ups he could do, Muhammad Ali once replied,

“Oh, about eight or nine.”

The reporter looked surprised and said, “Is that all?”

Ali cocked his eyebrow and replied, “I only start counting when I can’t do anymore.”

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