You’re probably here because you’re looking for a way to work out at home or you’re just wondering if there’s a better way to work out your chest muscles…
A way that doesn’t mean paying for an expensive gym membership.
A way that doesn’t involve forcing yourself to get through sets upon sets of boring chest preses..
A way that allows you to target the chest muscles in new ways.
You might even be noticing that you aren’t making much progress on your chest by doing weighted chest exercises.
And the truth is… it can be way more effective to use your own bodyweight as resistance!
Calisthenic chest exercises are a more flexible, less inexpensive and more fun way to work out.
We’ve included a list of the best bodyweight chest exercises in this article with variations suitable for every skill level.
Equipment is not completely necessarily but it is definitely worth investing in a few pieces to ensure that you achieve maximum results with these workouts.
1. The Press Up
It pretty much goes without saying… The press up is a great compound exercise that targets the entire chest but also works the shoulders, tris and even the abs.
If you haven’t yet mastered the ability to do at least 10-15 repetitions of a basic press up, you should stick to this to start with.
Don’t forget that they key is to make sure that you have perfected your form.
Completing a set of press ups with perfect form is not as easy as some people think…
Place your hands and feet just slightly wider than a shoulder-width apart and begin with your arms straight and your hands pointing forward.
Your fingers should also be slightly splayed. Get up on your toes, essentially like a plank position and then, when you lower yourself down focusing through the elbows, ensure that they do not point outwards.
Try to keep your hips in line with your shoulders throughout the set.
There are loads of press up variations you can do but some especially effective variations to target the chest include:
One arm press ups. Place one hand on a block or towel and then complete a push up.
Diamond press ups. Place your hands so that your thumbs and first fingers form a diamond shape and complete a press up from that position. This will also work to really target those triceps.
Widely regarded as the most effective form of press up are the TRX press ups.
A TRX suspension system is comprised of a strap with handles on either side that you can attach to a strong object.
For a TRX press up, you can hook either your feet or hands through the handles and then complete a basic push up.
The instability caused by the TRX will increase resistance, cause you to tighten up on your form and improve your strength.
2. Pec Flys
If you are a relative beginner, you will find that performing these with no equipment will still really work to target your chest.
Stand with your arms straight in front of you and bring your arms out to the sides until your upper body is in a T shape.
Really focus on squeezing your chest muscles as bring your arms all the way out to the side and back to the front again.
To make this exercise harder, you can use a resistance band. Eventually, though, you will find that you need to add some extra resistance.
You can achieve this using a TRX but gymnastic rings tend to be more effective.
Begin practicing this movement with a TRX/gymnastic rings on your knees until you have built enough strength to do these standing.
Start with your knees set a metre or so back from the TRX/gymnastic rings and lean into them spreading your arms to a T shape as you do so.
Remember to keep your core engaged in every variation of this exercise.
3. Chest Dips
You will find bars that you can use to perform this exercise in some parks but it might be better to consider investing in some dip bars for you to use at home.
To really make sure you are hitting the chest with this exercise, place your hands as widely as you can on the parallel bars, lean forward slightly and look down as you push up on the bars and lower yourself slowly.
All of this should be done in a controlled manner.
4. Floating X Plank
For this move, get into a plank position and bring your arms and legs out behind you so that you resemble an X shape.
Keep your core and your chest tight as you hold the position for as long as you can.
About The Triceps:
The triceps and the chest work in a pair so of course, all these movements will also work the triceps to some extent.
You can also adjust these exercises to place more focus on the tris. Read more about this here.
Amazing Bodyweight Chest Exercises:
So there you have it. This is certainly not an exhaustive list but definitely contains all of the key movements to target the chest through bodyweight exercise.
It is best to start with the compound movements- the push ups, dips and flys- and to make sure that you have mastered these before adding in variations and other more complex movements.
In general though, you can set up this workout however you want!
The main thing is to enjoy it and to continue to build upon what you have learnt week after week.
Pretty soon you’ll find that you have a more defined and stronger chest without having wasted a bunch of time and money at the gym…
You might even be able to complete those insane looking bodyweight moves like the 90 degree hold!
Chris is an experienced Calisthenics practitioner focused on isometric exercises and street workout. He founded thehybridathlete.com in 2017, which was subsequently acquired by theyhybridathlete.com
He is based in Portland and has been working out using solely his own body weight and bars for the past 6 years.