What man doesn’t want a big, strong chest? A girly man, that’s who (read in Arnold’s voice). We all know how to train chest, so there’s no real need to try and reinvent the wheel at this point. Just hit some heavy sets on the bench press, maybe some incline dumbbell presses, and top it all off with good ol’ cable flys. Ta-da! You just did a proper chest exercise… What’s that? You say you don’t have a gym to train in? Well, never fear; we got your back!
Well, not literally of course. But we do have some information you may find useful when it comes to training chest with little-to-no equipment. There’s no reason why you can’t develop some awesome pecs at home. Let’s break this down into two simple workout categories and the exercises you can do at home — no bench press required.
Use Your Bodyweight
This is the most basic pieces of workout equipment you can use; your own bodyweight. There are plenty of variations of different exercises you can perform to help develop your chest. This is perfect not just for at home, but anytime you need a quick chest session. With the following exercises, perform them in a circuit, doing 12-15 reps minimum for each exercise. Perform the circuit 4-5 times to really burn out your chest. Another great benefit to the following bodyweight exercises, NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED.
1. Standard Push-Up
Or as we would call it if it weren’t already a slang term for a quick handy, the “Old Fashioned.” This is one of the, if not the very first exercise, most men learn how to perform. The standard two-armed two-legged push up is still, and has always been, a great way to work the pec muscles. While You may not put on immense size by doing standard bodyweight push-ups, you can at least develop and define your chest to a respectable level.
2. Incline Push-Ups
While standard push-ups are great for working the overall chest, you can still up the intensity and focus on working different angles of the chest — ultimately putting more stress on the upper and lower portions of the chest muscles respectably.
For the incline push-up, just use an elevated platform that is around 12-18 inches off the floor, and place your hands on it while keeping your feet firmly planted on the floor (think of doing your push-ups with your hands pushing off a bench). Perform the push-ups just like you would if you were flat on the ground — making sure to contract your pecs at the top of the movement.
3. Decline Push-Ups
This is the incline Push-ups filthy whore cousin. She is a dirty mistress and wants to tear your heart from your chest. Well, maybe she just wants to give you a wicked pump… you know what, just forget the whole analogy.
Just like the incline push-up, you need to use an elevated surface. Only this time, it’s your feet that are elevated instead of your hands (think of putting your feet on a bench with your hands flat on the floor). This will make the push-up much more difficult and therefore much more beneficial to stressing the chest muscles.
4. Single Leg Push-Up
The single leg push-up works more than just your chest. It’s a great way to strengthen your entire core while working your chest simultaneously. It’s pretty easy to do, well, in theory anyway. Execution is always a bit more difficult.
To perform a single leg push-up, you need to get into a standard push-up position, arms spread shoulder width apart, back straight, and make sure to keep your core tight throughout the whole movement. Now, where this deviates from a standard push-up, is with the raising of one leg off the ground during the exercise. Alternate legs after each down and up rep. It sounds easy, but it puts much greater stress on your whole body.
5. Clapping Push-Ups
Oh, we are just getting straight nasty now. The clapping push-up, or what military and CrossFit guys turn it into, “showing off,” is a great way to add explosive power to your chest. Not only are you pushing your bodyweight up and away from the ground, you are actually launching yourself into the air briefly; this exerts a much greater force on the pecs.
To perform clapping push-ups, you just need to set yourself into a standard push-up position. Only, instead of just going down and up, you need to go down, then push hard enough that your whole body is momentarily off the ground. During that split-second of hangtime, you clap your hands together and land back into a standard push-up position.
Use a Dumbbell for More Gains
But, I thought this was an equipment-free workout? Well, the first half is so shut your damn pie hole! No, really, this is a way to add more mass to your chest. A lot of guys have a pair of dumbbells sitting around the house, but if not, you may want to drop the dough and pick up a pair. Even without a gym membership, it never hurts to have some basic equipment around.
Once you acquire the dumbbells, you will need a bench of some sort. Now, before you start cussing, you might not need to go out and purchase this piece of equipment. If you have something elevated and narrow enough that you can move your arms freely on either side, you will be fine. Let’s see if we can wreck your chest something proper.
1. Standard Dumbbell Bench Press
Well, this is obvious, isn’t it? Of course, we would have dumbbell bench presses on this list; it’s the most standard dumbbell chest exercise there is. Most guys don’t need an explanation on how to do this exercise, but we can do a quick overview here.
Holding the dumbbells while lying flat with your back on the bench, raise your arms with the dumbbells up above your upper torso. You will then lower the dumbbells down to your chest, keeping your elbows close to your sides, and explode upward, squeezing your pecs at the top of the lift but not fully locking out your arms. You want to keep all the tension on your chest muscles. Repeat until failure occurs.
2. Dumbbell Flys
This starts in the same position as the dumbbell bench press. Only this time, you need to hold the dumbbells with a neutral grip, palms facing each other, and lower the weights out to the sides. Keep a bend in your elbows as you do this and go slowly, focusing on stretching out your chest. Then bring the weights back to the top, contracting the chest muscles hard. Make sure you keep good form and never lower the weights too far or you may injure yourself.
3. Dumbbell Pullover
This is an old-school bodybuilding exercise that is often forgotten. With this exercise, you want to rest your upper back on the middle of the bench, feet flat on the floor. Avoid placing your neck on the bench — instead, keep your upper shoulders on it. Raise the dumbbell over your head and with a slight bend in your elbows, lower the weight back behind your head. Stretch out your chest for a few seconds before bringing the dumbbell back to the starting position.
For an effective workout, perform each exercise 8-15 reps in a circuit. Aim to complete the entire circuit four to five times with little rest periods in between.
You might not have a gym to go to, but that doesn’t mean you can get a great chest workout. Always work towards pushing your limits and improving your abilities. And try upping the reps and sets as often as you like for added stamina. Once you master the basics, you can move on to more advanced at home workouts.