Why would you want to do bodyweight chest exercises? Why would you want to do bodyweight exercises in general?
Well, if you’re new to fitness and bodybuilding, sometimes weights can be intimidating.
Maybe you’ve only been lifting weights and have no experience with bodyweight exercises at all.
Even further, maybe you don’t have the budget for a gym membership or equipment, making home workouts your only option.
Don’t fret, that is completely fine.
Bodyweight exercises are safe, fun and effective.
Still, I would recommend something such as our Dark Iron Fitness leather suede wrist wraps for doing exercises such as complex push-ups.
A lot of people often think bodyweight movements and routines aren’t too tricky or beneficial.
Today, in this article, we are going to put those naysayers to rest.
Bodyweight exercises are highly capable of building muscle and they are important to overall athleticism.
If you have always wanted to gain strength and muscle without the necessity of equipment and a gym, look no further.
Those of you interested in building a massive chest, I have good news, you can do it for free — without weights!
Related: Beginner Bodyweight Workouts
Why Choose Bodyweight Chest Exercises?
Bodyweight Chest Exercises Are Cost Efficient
At times, bodybuilding can feel like a money-burning hobby.
When it becomes your lifestyle, you learn quickly that buying proper food and having gym memberships can get pricey.
But, the beauty of bodyweight movements, is that they are extremely cost efficient.
How cost efficient? I’m talking absolutely free!
As long as you have the ability to safely exercise and move your body decently, you can do these exercises without spending a dime.
Also, I know sometimes when you stray from standard bodybuilding with weights, you may feel like you need guidance or an instructor.
I promise you, you can find all of these exercises online and won’t need to pay a trainer or join a class or buy a DVD.
Anyone on a tight budget can appreciate the nature of bodyweight chest exercises — because not only do they work — they align with saving money.
This is just one important reason to consider doing bodyweight chest exercises, let’s talk about a few more.
Bodyweight Chest Exercises Can Succeed Anywhere
The downside to weighted exercises is that weights are heavy (obviously!) and not very portable.
Weights are expensive to buy, so you probably prefer not owning too many.
This results in almost all your traditional weighted movements needing to be performed at a gym.
An amazing thing about bodyweight chest exercises is that you can perform them in the gym…
But, you can also perform them outside of the gym!
For me, this is comparable to the running vs. swimming argument.
Yes, swimming is great and burns a lot of calories, but you are limited to where you can swim.
A pool: either at the gym or a public pool.
A body of water: the lake, a river, the ocean, etc.
Well, when you go running, you can literally run anywhere.
Running is a style of exercising that is essentially boundless — similar to bodyweight exercises.
You will be able to perform all these exercises at home, at work, at the gym, at the park, everywhere and anywhere.
Enjoy the freedom of bodyweight fitness, untethered from the gym!
Related: The Best Home Gyms Under $500
Bodyweight Chest Exercises Are Almost Risk-Free
A majority of people, particularly beginners, are wary of heavy weights.
Usually, without some sort of further instruction, beginners tend to stick to machines at the gym.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can limit your progression and potential.
I admit, there can definitely be a scary aspect to free weights if you start with no prior knowledge.
Plus, gyms can foster an intimidating atmosphere, so the fear of doing something wrong kicks that feeling in overdrive.
You don’t want people judging you, laughing at you or making snide comments in the gym.
Well, that danger and fear of the weights is something that should be respected.
Weights can be dangerous both when they are free weights or attached to a machine.
Proper safety and understanding of the mechanics when performing exercises is highly important.
A beginner and an IFBB Pro can be injured by the weights all the same.
This leads me to my third justification of bodyweight chest exercises — the safety aspect.
Bench press is master, king, even god in the gym.
However, it can be dangerous, especially without a spotter.
You can drop the barbell and crush anywhere from your head down to your stomach if you aren’t careful.
All of these bodyweight chest exercises I will be listing below are almost completely risk-free and safe.
No weights will crush you, you won’t need someone to spot you and you won’t ever feel the need to ego-lift.
The peace of mind knowing that you are doing safe exercises is very important.
The Best Types of Bodyweight Chest Exercises
The Push-Up AKA The Pec Punisher
Everyone knows what a push-up is, but some don’t know how to properly do them.
Push-ups are the classic, time-tested bodyweight movement that almost everyone swears by.
Doing a push-up works well for your chest because you are forced to lift your own bodyweight.
Gravity will naturally keep you down, but only your body strength can help prop you back up.
There is essentially no way to cheat a push-up (unless you count half reps and putting your knees down).
I say push-ups are cheat proof because once you go down, you either get back up or you fail, there’s no middle ground.
When doing your push-ups, there are several variations that will work your chest until its burning.
Having your elbows in and close to your body will allow for a tighter push-up.
The wider your arms, and lower your starting position, the more you will feel the burn across the mass of your chest.
Speciality push-ups, such as diamond push-ups or decline push-ups will help target chest muscles differently.
In a nutshell, push-ups should be your number one bodyweight chest exercise because they work great, can be done anywhere, are free and versatile.
For those who aren’t fully versed in doing push-ups, you can always start out slow.
Push-ups with your knees on the ground is fine; it’s a great way to learn.
You can even do standing push-ups, by pushing off a wall, which still works your chest.
If bodyweight chest exercises are all you can do, then do push-ups.
However, push-ups are great regardless and can be worked into any routine at any time.
Dips are another great bodyweight chest workout.
Sure, if you do these in the gym, you’ll see more progress.
The gym usually has a dip station, which make doing dips 10x easier, but it isn’t needed.
You can perform dips, properly, between two chairs.
Really, between two of anything that allows for you to hold yourself up.
Always remember to do dips with your head neutral, tilted slightly forward.
For chest, it is best not to completely lock out at the top of the movement, to keep tension on your pecs.
Dips are definitely a simple looking movement, but they can get quite hard to rep out.
Dips even work well in public places like a park.
Usually, local parks will have a jungle gym set with monkey bars or parallel bars to allow for dips.
This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get a great workout in, or just a nice, quick chest burner.
In my opinion, dips will be the hardest to do on this list without a gym, but not impossible.
However, they are also the most versatile outside of using only bodyweight.
Once you master bodyweight dips, you can use a dip weight belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet for more load.
Dark Iron Fitness has the highest quality leather dip belts out there, if you decide to add further
Also, slightly changing the angle of your body can help target other areas; shoulders, triceps, upper back, etc.
In performing dips, it is best to keep your core tight to prevent your body from swaying too much.
As a bodyweight chest exercise, dips can be one of the best out there to integrate in your workouts.
Related: Dips vs. Push-Ups
This, being the hardest bodyweight chest exercise on our list, is one of the more strict in form.
With muscle-ups, there isn’t much variation, apart from doing them with a jump (or other acrobatic movements).
For the most part, the basic muscle-up is done in one way and is done so because it works extremely well.
Learning to do a muscle-up, however, can be quite challenging.
If you cannot do a pull-up, at all, then work on mastering that technique first.
But, if you have that physicality already, then adding muscle-ups to your chest routine is a must!
While hanging from a bar, do a pull-up until you reach your chin, then thrust your chest up and over the bar.
Once in this position, you will push down through your hands until your torso clears the bar.
This is the completion of one muscle-up; now you drop back down to a hang and repeat the process.
Performing one muscle-up is far easier than performing two, three, four and so on.
Muscle-ups will tire out your arms, chest, grip and stamina quicker than most exercises.
As a bodyweight chest exercise, muscle-ups can be done on anything you can hang from.
As with dips, there are usually bars in public parks or jungle gyms that will be suitable for muscle-ups.
Though these will have the biggest learning curve, they are worth learning, and doing.
Related: Master The Muscle-Up
Bodyweight Chest Exercises: Review and Final Thoughts
Bodyweight chest exercises, and bodyweight exercises in general, may not always compete with that of the weighted variety.
Yet, you can still achieve a massive amount of progress and build a great chest with just your own bodyweight.
Many calisthenics athletes and advocates are proof of that.
A strong diet that is healthy and balanced, along with bodyweight movements, will lead to respectable gains.
Never let your lack of experience with weights, lack of money for a gym membership or lack of time stop you from achieving your goals.
These three bodyweight chest exercises should always be your bread and butter:
- Push-Ups (All variations)
- Dips (Focused on chest)
Adding in weights and varying your workouts as much as possible will be beneficial, as well.
But, push-ups, dips and muscle-ups will never become worthless or irrelevant to fitness.
When performing bodyweight chest exercises, always keep the focus on your chest and actively squeeze it.
The mind-muscle connection is even more so important when only using bodyweight.
If you can’t feel it, focus on it or see results, it’s likely you aren’t properly targeting the chest.
Besides that, try to have fun and learn new ways to put your bodyweight to good use.
You can build a gigantic, strong chest, as long as you invest your time and effort.
Once you master the bodyweight dips, look into purchasing a leather dip belt for stepping up your game.
And, if you ever feel like you need extra stability with push-ups, our wrist wraps will keep you on point!
Don’t let the lack of visible ego in bodyweight exercises deter you from experimenting with them.
Sure, the workouts may not look the most impressive to others, but the results will surely blow people away.