EstimatedEst. Read Time: 10 minutes
bodyweight chest workout

BEST BODYWEIGHT CHEST WORKOUT

Some think that bodyweight chest workouts are not intense enough to build muscle at home without equipment.

They would be wrong. You can absolutely build size and strength through bodyweight chest training!

Metabolically, if you build up enough metabolites through overloading and pushing through the burn, you can cause the necessary microtears in your muscles to spark new growth.

You wanted a chest workout that saves you time and leaves you sore, and I’m here to deliver.

Metabolically, if you build up enough metabolites through overloading and pushing through the burn, you can cause the necessary microtears in your muscles to spark new growth.

This chest workout uses an intense metabolic training effect to do just that, and build bigger pecs in the process! And guess what. No heavy weights are required. You can even do this from the comfort of your home.

chest pectoral muscle anatomy

BREAKDOWN OF THE PECTORAL (CHEST) MUSCLE

It’s easy to look at the chest and mistakenly think that it’s just one big muscle that moves in a single direction.

In reality, when we activate the pectoral or chest muscle, we are hitting one of three different parts depending on the movement of the exercise. These sections can be categorized based on two factors:

  1. The origin points on the clavicle and sternum.
  2. The direction of the muscle fibers.

There are three distinct sections of the chest muscle:

UPPER CHEST: Originating from the clavicle, the upper pectoral fibers run down toward the humerus and move diagonally upward toward the center of the chest.

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MIDDLE CHEST: The fibers that make up the middle of the pectoral muscle originate from the sternum. Imagine a line going straight across the chest. The middle chest fibers move in a similar horizontal direction toward the center of the chest.

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sternal portion of middle pectoral muscle

LOWER CHEST: Finally, we have the lower chest fibers. These fibers begin from the bottom of the sternum and they travel diagonally down toward the center of the chest.

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sternal portion of middle pectoral muscle

The following chest workout will specifically target each part of the chest listed above, and I promise that you’ll be feeling it.

DO I NEED EQUIPMENT FOR THIS BODYWEIGHT CHEST WORKOUT?

No, you don’t need any special equipment to perform this workout.

If you have a bench and a dip station, then definitely use them. But if you only have a couch, countertop, and steps, those will work too.

Since we’re going to use mechanical drop sets, you’ll want to make sure any equipment you do use is close together. You don’t get a break between sets so forget about the luxury of a 30-second rest as you walk between stations.

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back of couch for pushups
You can use the back of a couch, a counter or steps for incline pushups if you don't have access to a bench.
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counter top for dips
You can use a counter top for dips if you don't have access to a dip station.

BODYWEIGHT CHEST EXERCISES

Ready to jump into the workout? Not so fast. Let’s cover the exercises you’ll be doing first.

This workout involves just two bodyweight chest exercises: push ups and dips.

The idea is to start with the most difficult version of the push-up and then transition to easier versions as you find yourself fatiguing. After every set of pushups, you’ll perform triple-pulse dips and one long eccentric dip.

Pushup Variations

For each pushup, you’ll choose between a kneeling, standard, or twisting variation, based on your current fitness level – NOT the fitness level you want to achieve.

KNEELING: Ideal for beginners, the kneeling pushup allows you to target the chest without sacrificing form. Even though you’re on your knees, you still need to focus on a tight core, straight back, and neutral gaze.

STANDARD: The standard pushup has you on your toes. Remember not to let your hips drop. Keep that stomach tight for the entire exercise.

TWISTING: If you’re feeling froggy, you can try the advanced twisting pushup. Push yourself up and through the fingers, twisting to one side then alternating to the other from rep to rep.

Pulse Dips

We want to keep all the metabolites that are accumulating from the push-ups where they are because this is the key to triggering hypertrophy. To do that, you’ll perform three pulse dips followed by one long eccentric-focused dip.

I can’t stress this enough, but guys, I need you to push through the burn. This is where the real progress is going to happen during this six-minute workout.

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for…

BODYWEIGHT CHEST WORKOUT

I’m going to walk you through each of the six minutes, so you know exactly what to do to maximize the intensity and results.

What matters most is how you perform these movements so that you can keep repping out long after you fatigue. That’s why I include three variations based on your experience level.

If you start with one variation, you can regress to an easier version.

For example, if you start with the advanced twisting pushup but find that you’re burning out, you can move down to standard or kneeling pushups.

We want to keep all the metabolites that are accumulating from the pushups where they are because this is the key to triggering hypertrophy.

MINUTE 1: Decline Pushups

You’re going to start in the toughest position, when you’re feeling your best. Regardless of which pushup you do, your goal is to go all out for a full minute.

Perform one of the following variations of pushups for 60 seconds (drop down, if needed):

KNEELING DECLINE PUSHUPS

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kneeling decline pushup

STANDARD DECLINE PUSHUPS

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bodyweight decline pushup

twisting DECLINE PUSHUPS

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twisting decline pushup

Exercise Notes: For the kneeling version, start position is with hands on the floor shoulderwidth apart and knees on a bench, couch or other surface, and lower your chest toward the floor. If you are doing the standard version, elevate the toes on the bench or couch with legs straight behind you. For the twisting version, the position is the same, and you’ll twist your body toward alternating sides at the top of the pushup movement. In this case, the position with your hand will be to elevate the palm off the ground with only  fingertips maintaining contact with the floor as you twist toward the same side.

MINUTE 2: Dips

Remember, we want to keep all the accumulating metabolites right where they are. You’re doing all this hard work; now let’s make sure it pays off.

Focus on the top one third of the rep and do a triple pulse then drop down into a slow eccentric lowering. Step back up to the top and repeat.

Perform the triple pulse and eccentric dips for the following times based on your experience level:

  • Beginners: 20 seconds
  • Intermediate: 30 seconds
  • Advanced: 40 seconds

TRIPLE PULSE AND ECCENTRIC DIPS

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dip with eccentric lowering

Exercise Notes: For this exercise, you’ll be taking a normal dip arm position, bending your elbow at 45degree angles. Perform 3 dip pulses and on the 3rd rep slowly lower your body down in the eccentric.

MINUTE 3: Flat PushUps

Immediately go back to the floor for the third minute of this chest workout, except this time you are going to do flat pushups.

Just like before, beginners can do them from their knees, intermediate from their toes, and advanced in the twisting pushup fashion.

Try to make it through the entire third minute but drop to an easier version if you need to so you can finish out your reps with good form.

Perform one of the following variations of pushups for 60 seconds (drop down, if needed):

KNEELING FLAT PUSHUPS

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kneeling flat pushup

standard FLAT PUSHUPS

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kneeling flat pushup

twisting FLAT PUSHUPS

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kneeling flat pushup

Exercise Notes: For this version, you’ll be taking a standard pushup position with no incline or decline, legs in a straight line. Bring your hands onto the floor shoulder width apart, and lowering yourself as far as you can in plank position, but don’t let the upper body touch the floor. If you’re a beginner, perform traditional pushups on your knees, and if you’re more advanced, perform the twisting version following the same movement pattern as in the decline version.

MINUTE 4: Dips

Keep it going, guys. Remember to really focus on the top one third of the rep as you perform the triple pulse dip. For every three pulses you do, follow this up with a slow eccentric lowering. Step back up to the top and repeat.

Perform the triple pulse and eccentric dips for the following times based on your experience level:

  • Beginners: 20 seconds
  • Intermediate: 30 seconds
  • Advanced: 40 seconds

MINUTE 5: Incline Push-Ups

Finally, we have incline pushups, and we have the same format as before. If you’re advanced, keep going with the twisting pushup. The intermediate folks are doing the regular pushups, and the beginners are on their knees.

Perform one of the following variations of push-ups for 60 seconds (drop down, if needed):

KNEELING INCLINE PUSHUPS

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STANDARD INCLINE PUSHUPS

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twisting INCLINE PUSHUPS

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twisting incline pushups

Exercise Notes: For the kneeling version, place your hands flat on a bench, couch or other surface, with knees on the floor and lower your chest toward the bench. If you are doing the standard version, legs are straight behind you with feet on the floor. For the twisting version, the position is the same, and you’ll twist your body toward alternating sides at the top of the pushup movement. Elevate the palm off the surface with only fingertips maintaining contact as you twist toward the same side.

MINUTE 6: Dips

This is the final stretch so let’s finish strong. Perform the triple pulse and eccentric dips for the following times based on your experience level:

  • Beginners: 20 seconds
  • Intermediate: 30 seconds
  • Advanced: 40 seconds

Guys, it’s not easy, but it works. Working for six straight minutes is something you’re probably not used to, but that’s where you’ll find the greatest benefit for muscle growth.

Push yourself here. I know you can do it.

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THE HIGHLIGHT REEL:
bodyweight chest workout

  1. It IS possible to build chest muscle using only your bodyweight. The trick is to overload yourself through high-intensity exercises for your chest.
  2. Transitioning back and forth from a push-up to a dip, you’re able to skyrocket your metabolites, but you have to push through the burn in this home workout (this won’t be easy!).
  3. If you find that you’re not able to finish a set with good form, switch to one of the easier options such as the flat push-up or incline push-up.
  4. Above all, stay strong and keep challenging yourself in your chest training.

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