The Best Bodyweight Exercises for your Chest

Want to fill out your T-shirt? Here’s how without any weight machines

Barbells aren’t necessary for  more front, all you need are the best bodyweight exercises for your chest. There are plenty of great muscle making moves you can do without any equipment at all. Some that can be done using your own bodyweight and a TRX or band. While these exercises are great for attacking your chest—the pectorals major and minor—they’ll also help get your deltoids, triceps, abs, and more muscles in on the action.

In other words, the following muscle moves, courtesy of Andia Winslow, professional athlete and sports performance coach,  will help you get that chest you’ll want to show off and carve the rest of your body. Combine them for the ultimate Chest Day bodyweight workout. Or, sprinkle a few in to your total body muscle building routine.

1. Traditional pushups

Why it’s great: “Nothing beats the original,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: Avoid being that guy with the bad pushup form. Make certain to keep your body in alignment from head to toe. Think about leading with your sternum as to avoid a craned neck and sloppy body position.

Do: 12-15 Reps x 3 Sets

2. Dips: Eccentric lowers

Why it’s great: “The ultimate in body control and timing, eccentric dips will add challenge to your routine in a different way,” says Winslow.

How to: Jump up and lock your arms out. The slowly lower yourself down to the bottom.

Pro tip: The key is to maintain a consistent lowering speed all the way through the bottom of the move. Don’t rush, “slow” wins this race.

Do: 8-10 Reps x 3 Sets

3. Side-step chest press

Why it’s great: “This is a great way to work the chest while challenging lateral stability and resisting rotation,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: Anchor a super band to about hip height. Now, laterally lunge away from anchor point and press band out, fully extending arms in front of chest.

Do: 8-10 Reps x 3 Sets.

4. Dive bomber pushups

Why it’s great: “This move is part deep stretch and part strength-builder,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: Just as in yoga, merge your breath and body to get the most out of the dive bomber. Inhale in downward dog to start and exhale as you transition into cobra. From downward dog, you’ll “dive” your chest down so that it comes close to—but doesn’t touch—the ground momentarily.  Return to start by pushing in the opposite direction. Make the move more difficult by slowing your lowering pace in both directions.

Do: 5-7 reps x 3 Sets

5. Isometric presses

Why it’s great: “These are sleeper moves that can be performed after weight-bearing moves, during rest, or on their own,” says Winslow. “Isometric exercises can generate force without motion, and are a great way to experiment with body control and generate static strength.”

Pro tip: Press hands together as hard as you can, arms extended, with a slight flexion in your elbows.

Do: 8-10 Reps x 3-5 Sets

6. Roll out ladder pushup switch outs

Why it’s great: “This is a pushup variation that taxes your chest and your core as much as it helps build coordination,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a roll out ladder, don’t worry—all you really need is a line on the ground. Make certain to really push through the ground. Keep shoulders stacked over hands as your body moves laterally through the ladder or across the line, stopping to do pushups as you go.

Do: 10 yds each direction x 3 Sets.

7. Suspension trainer airplanes

Why it’s great: “Isometric moves are a great way to inventory and develop strength throughout the body, and airplanes are made all the more difficult while suspended,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: Position body in (TRX) chest press position and slowly extend one arm at a time out to the side, then back to starting position. The key is to maintain tension throughout your entire body to allow for smooth transitions “out” and “in.” To make things more difficult, try doubles (both arms at the same time).

Do: 6-8 singles per side x 3 sets.

8. Diamond pushups

Why it’s great: “You’ll be pushing from a narrower base (your fingers should be touching and form a diamond shape) and taxing different areas of your chest than with normal pushups,” says Winslow.

Pro tip: The key is to not allow your body to collapse. Use your breathing to help mitigate your bodyweight: inhale down and with a strong exhale, push body back to start.

Do: 6-8 Reps x 3 Sets, to start.

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