bodyweight chest exercises
Fitness

23 Most Effective Bodyweight Chest Exercises

The chest is one of the most powerful muscles of your upper body. But that doesn’t mean that you need to push a massive amount of weight in the gym to maximally stimulate it.

You can get a great pectoral muscle workout at home with nothing but your own body weight if you know which exercises to perform.

In this article, I provide you with a treasure trove of moves to hit your chest muscles from every angle with nothing but the body you were born with.

1. Wall Pushups

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand facing a wall and place your palms against it and arms at shoulder width.
  2. From a starting position with your arms extended, bring your torso in to touch the wall.
  3. Push back to the start position.

Tips 

To make wall pushups and other beginner exercises harder, move your feet further back from the wall.

2. Bodyweight Flye

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Hand cloth, slick floor

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Lie on a slick floor (such as vinyl) with your arms and feet out wide and a pair of cloths in your hand. 
  2. From a start position with your arms in a crucifix position, bring your straightened arms in together as your torso comes up. Continue until your hands are touching.
  3. Lower and repeat

Tips 

This is a great move to work the pecs through their full range of motion. Forcefully contract your pecs in the end position.

3. Diagonal Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, deltoids, triceps

Equipment

Bench

Step by step how to

  1. Stand about three feet away from a benchtop, facing it. Extend your arms to the bench so that your body is angled at about 45 degrees.
  2. Lower your body down toward the bench from a straight arm position until your chest almost touches it.
  3. Puh back to the start position.

Training Tips

Pull your shoulder blades down and back as you do this movement.

4. Chest Dips

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Dip bars

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Grab the sides of a dip bar and push yourself up to full arm extension. Your body should be angled slightly forward with your ankles crossed over.
  2. Lower your body to a full elbow bend.
  3. Push through the chest and shoulders to return to the start position.

Tips 

Feel for a deep pec stretch in the bottom position when doing chest dips; keep your core tight and your body rigid.

5. Hover Push Ups

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands a hands about shoulder width apart and your feet together in standard pushup position. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top standard push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until you are half way to completing a standard push up.
  4. Now ‘hover’ your body to the left and then to the right.
  5. Push back to the top position of the push up.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 10 reps.

Tips 

Perform the exercise slowly and deliberately, focusing on tension through the pectoral muscle fibers.

6. Star Plank

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps, abdominals, obliques

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor in standard plank position, with your points of contact being your palms and toes.
  2. Stretch your arms out to the sides of your body to full extension. Spread your fingers apart.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Do 3 sets of 30 second holds.

Tips 

Feel for a deep stretch in the outer chest muscles as you do this exercise. Keep your entire body in a straight line. As you get stronger, hold for longer amounts of time to increase your time under tension.

7. Plank Reach Under

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor and assume the top plank position, with your points of contact being your palms and toes.  Have your hands about shoulder width apart.
  2. Lift your right hand off the floor and move it across your body to full extension.
  3. Return your right hand to the floor and repeat with the left hand.
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Tips 

Forcefully contract your pecs as you reach through. Maintain a neutral position through the spine.

8. Incline Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Bench

Step-by-step how-to 

  1.  Stand in front of a bench, a few feet away from it. Lean down to place your hands on the bench slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  Your body should form an angle of about 30 degrees to the floor. Keep your hands about shoulder width apart.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the bench.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps. 

Tips 

Increase the height of the bench to make this exercise more challenging.

9. Wide Grip Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about a foot wider than shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top normal push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

Focus on feeling a deep stretch through your chest muscle on these wide push-ups to increase time under tension. Maintain a neutral position through the spine. 

10. Medicine Ball Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands on top of a medicine ball or other sturdy ball and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe in standard pushup position.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chin touches the medicine ball.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Tips 

Maintain a rigid body position to maintain balance. If you don’t have a medicine ball any sturdy ball will work.

11. Clap Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about shoulder width apart and your feet together in standard pushup position. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top normal push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Use explosive power through the front delts, pecs and triceps to come back up, bring your hands off the floor and clapping them together.
  5. Perform 3 sets to 8-10 reps.

Tips 

These are explosive push-ups, so power up out of the bottom position. The clap push-up is a very good plyometric exercise.

12. Dive Bomber Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the regular push ups top position. Now walk your feet in to form a pike position with your body so that your butt is high in the air in an inverted V position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Now perform an arching movement as if you were crawling under a fence and push back up to full arms extension.
  5. Reverse the motion to return to the start position.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps. 

Tips 

Perform the exercise in a fluid, arching up-down motion; do not pause between reps. Maintain a neutral position through the spine.

13. Alternating Staggered Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands about shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position. Now stagger your hand position so that the left hand is about 8 inches higher than shoulder level and your right hand is about 8 inches below shoulder level.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position. as your come up move your your hands to stagger in the opposite direction.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
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Tips 

This pushup movement is also known as the uneven push up  Explode up from the bottom position as you change the staggered hand position. Maintain a straight line from head to heels.

14. Single Leg Raise Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top normal push up position. No lift your left leg off the floor.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 3 set of 10 reps with each leg raised.

Tips 

Maintain core stability to keep your balance throughout the exercise and achieve maximum muscle activation. Maintain a neutral position through the spine. This is an advanced pushup type; perform easier versions before working up to it.

15. Pike Push Up

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Bend down to put your palms on the floor with straight legs so that your body forms an inverted V position. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. With a tight core, lower your body until your chin is  few inches from the floor.
  3. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Tips 

This is a tough pushup movement. To make it slightly less demanding, move your hands further away from your feet. This is an advanced pushup type; perform easier versions before working up to it.

16. Burpees

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps, core muscles

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with arms by your sides.
  2. Drop down into a top push up position with hands below your shoulders and feet extended behind you.
  3. Perform one push up.
  4. Kick your feet back in to your hands.
  5. Use explosive power to jump back up to the start position.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 12 reps.

Tips 

Perform the exercise fluidly, with no rest between reps. This is an effective plyometric exercise that burns a lot of calories.

17. Band Chest Press

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Attach the anchor of a resistance band to a secure upright at chest level.
  2. Stand about two feet in front of the upright, facing way from it and grab the band ends.
  3. In the starting position, your arms should be at shoulder level with the band held in a palms down grip and elbows bent at 90 degrees.
  4. Press your arms forward and in together to meet in front of your chest.
  5. Return to the start position and repeat.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Tips 

Forcefully contract your pectorals in the end position.

18. Decline Push Up

via Gfycat

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and your feet on a bench. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe at an angle of about 30 degrees.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top traditional push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

Maintain a rigid core throughout the entire time.

19. Slow Motion Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands a little wider than shoulder width apart and your feet together. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top traditional push up position.
  3. With a tight core, slowly begin to lower your body from the basic pushup position until your chest is about an inch from the floor. Take 3 seconds to descend.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position. Take 3 seconds to come back up.
  5. Perform 3 sets of 8-10

Tips 

The slow-motion push-up is a lot harder than standard push-ups. Focus on taking 6 seconds one every rep; your goal is quality rather than quantity on this one. Maintain a neutral position through the spine and a straight line from head to heels.

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20. Kneeling Push Up

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Get down on the floor with your hands shoulder width apart and your knees on the floor. Cross over your ankles.
  2. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  3. With a tight core, lower your body until your chest is about an inch from the floor.
  4. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  5. Perform 4 sets to failure (the point you cannot do another rep with proper form)

Tips 

As this exercise becomes easier, progress to the standard push-up position to more fully engage the chest muscle.

21. Decline Wall Push Ups

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

None

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Stand with your back to a wall. Drop your hands to the floor and begin to walk your legs up the wall until your body is at a 45 degree angle. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and arms extended.
  2. Lower your body to the floor until your head almost touches the ground.
  3. Push back to the start position.
  4. Perform 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Tips 

Keep your body rigid throughout the movement. To make it more difficult, bring your hands closer to the wall.

22. Band Chest Flye

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Resistance band

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Attach the anchor of a resistance band to a secure upright at chest level.
  2. Stand about two feet in front of the upright, facing way from it and grab the band ends.
  3. In the starting position, your arms should be up and out at shoulder level with elbows slightly bent.
  4. Pivot from the shoulder joint to bring your arms in to meet at mid chest level.
  5. Return to the start position and repeat.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Tips 

Keep your arms licked in a slight elbow bend; the only movement should be through the elbow joint. 

23. Atlas Pushups

Muscles worked

Pectorals, front, deltoids, triceps

Equipment used 

Two bench or boxes

Step-by-step how-to 

  1. Place two benches or boxes on the floor about two feet apart.
  2. Get down on the floor with your hands  and the top of the benches or boxes. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  3. Straighten your arms to be in the top push up position.
  4. With a tight core, lower your body from the basic pushup position until your chest drops slightly below the level of the boxes
  5. Push through the front delts, pecs and triceps to return to the start position.
  6. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.

Tips 

Feel for a great stretch through the pecs when doing Atlas pushups. If you don’ feel it, moves the benches or boxes further apart. 

Creating a Bodyweight Chest Workout Plan

You don’t have to be bench pressing and doing dumbbell flyes in the gym in order to build an impressive chest. You can get a great set of pecs at home with no weight whatsoever with calisthenics exercises.

In this article, you have been provided with an arsenal of awesome bodyweight exercises to hit your pecs from every angle. Choose 2 or 3 moves every workout and perform a total of a dozen sets, with reps ranging from a light 30 to 6 reps with heavy weights.

Work your chest every 5 days with this calisthenics workout plan to allow for maximum recovery and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can push ups build chest muscles?

Yes, push ups are an effective builder of the chest muscles. They are essentially the same movement as the bench press, moving your pecs through about 70 percent of their range of movement. Be sure to include an exercise like floor flyes that allows you to bring your hands closer together. This will engage the extra 30 percent of your muscle fibers that you do not get with the push-up. Use the bodyweight training exercises in this article to construct your own bodyweight training program.

How do I build my upper chest?

Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot isolate the upper chest muscle. The pectoralis major is a single muscle. So there is no separate upper pectoral head. Therefore, any exercise for the chest will work your upper, mid, and lower chest at the same time!

Can I work out my chest every day?

You should not work your chest every day. A muscle group needs enough time to recuperate and recover between workouts. The ideal frequency is to train your chest every 5 days. 

Steve Theunissen

Steve Theunissen is a former gym owner and personal trainer based in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness, and fat loss.

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