The Best Chest Workouts To Do At Home: No Equipment Needed

One of the most sought-after workout routines is an at-home, no-equipment chest workout.

We all know that strong pecs or chest muscles not only look good but also help us lift more weight in the gym and in everyday life.

However, it’s not often possible or appealing to head to the gym, find an open squat rack and do a bunch of sets of bench presses, or even get an open bench to bang out sets of chest presses with heavy dumbbells. 

So, what types of at-home chest workouts can you do without a full set of weights at your disposal? 

Are there bodyweight chest exercises that can build strength and increase muscle definition in your pecs?

In this guide, we will explain how to get good at-home chest workouts even if you don’t have any exercise equipment to use.

We will cover: 

  • What Muscles Make Up Your Chest?
  • At-Home No Equipment Chest Workouts

Let’s get started!

A person doing a push up on the grass, performing a chest workout.

What Muscles Make Up Your Chest?

The chest is composed of two pectoral muscles: pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.

The pectoralis major muscle forms the bulk of the muscular pecs. 

This thick, fan-shaped muscle has two separate heads. The clavicular head attaches to the clavicle; the sternocostal head attaches to the sternum and costal cartilage in between your ribs.

Both heads converge, and then the muscle inserts on the humerus, or upper-arm bone.

The principal role of the pectoralis major is the adduction (pulling the arm back into your body after it’s out to the side) and internal rotation of the arm.

The clavicular portion helps flex the extended arm, while the sternocostal portion helps extend the flexed arm.

The pectoralis minor is a smaller, triangular-shaped muscle that lies under the pectoralis major. 

The pectoralis minor is involved in stabilizing, lowering, abducting, protracting, and rotating the scapula. It also helps elevate the ribs when you inhale.

A person doing a kneeling push up.

At-Home No Equipment Chest Workouts

Perform 2-3 sets of some or all of the following chest exercises for a fantastic at-home, no equipment chest workout.

#1: Seal Jumps

Seal jumps are pretty much like jumping jacks, but instead of raising your arms up overhead with each jump, you cross them in front of your body parallel to the floor and clap in the middle like a sea smacking its flippers.

By adducting your arms towards the midline of your body, you engage your pecs, so this is a great warm-up exercise for bodyweight chest workouts.

Here are the steps:

  1. Stand upright with good posture and your arms up at shoulder height, extended straight, and your palms together.
  2. Jump your legs out to each side while you sweep your arms out to the sides of your body at shoulder height, parallel to the floor.
  3. Jump your legs back together, simultaneously bringing your arms in towards one another, clapping your hands together at the midline of your body.
  4. Move as fast as you can for 50 reps.

#2: Push-Ups

Standard or incline push-ups (against a wall or with your hands on a chair) are a great chest exercise for bodyweight chest workouts.

Your feet should be flat on the floor with your toes curled under, contacting the ground behind you. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders.

A person doing a one-armed push up.

#3: Spider-Man Push-ups

This push-up variation intensifies the involvement of your obliques—and core in general—but it also helps isolate each pec at a time because you’ll be pressing a little more force into the side with the knee raise:

Here are the steps:

  1. Get in a push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Instead of bending your elbows straight out to the side, angle your arms so that your elbows flex about halfway between what would be straight out to the side and straight back (picture aiming for the 4 and 8 on a clock).
  3. As you lower your chest to the ground, raise your right leg off the ground, bending the knee and drawing your leg forward so that your right knee comes up to your right elbow.
  4. Hover for a full breath in the lowered position, holding your leg up by your elbow.
  5. Press through your palms to engage your chest as you lift your chest back up and return your leg to the starting position.
  6. Alternate legs for each rep and complete 20 reps total.
A person doing a ball push up.

#4: Basketball Push-Ups

You’ll need some kind of sports ball for this exercise. A medicine ball is ideal, but if you don’t have one, grab a basketball or other large sports ball.

If you don’t have any balls, you can make this a true no equipment chest exercise by using a couple of heavy books stacked together instead of a ball.

By staggering your hands in this push-up variation, you’ll better target each pec individually, increasing the workload on your chest.

This can lead to bigger gains, which is great for those looking for muscle-building bodyweight chest workouts.

You’ll also engage your core and triceps more intensely. 

Finally, this chest exercise is a great way to start progressing toward being able to complete a single-arm push-up.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get into a standard push-up position but place your right hand on top of a sports ball (or box or stack of books) instead of the floor.
  2. Complete one full push-up, bending both elbows and lowering your chest as close to the floor as possible.
  3. Press back up to the starting position, using the left arm on the floor more than the right.
  4. After you are back in the starting position, roll the medicine ball to the left hand and place the left hand on top of the ball.
  5. Complete another push-up and then roll the medicine ball back to your right hand.
  6. Continue alternating sides between each rep until you have completed 15 push-ups per side. 

If you are using books or a box, just complete all 15 reps per side in a row and then switch sides.

A person doing a decline push up.

#5: Wide Push-Ups

When your hands are wide during a push-up, you’ll target the chest more than your arms.

Instead of placing your hands shoulder-width apart, separate them as wide as possible while still permitting comfort.

#6: Decline Push-Ups

Most no equipment chest workouts focus predominantly on push-ups

After all, push-ups are a simple yet effective bodyweight chest exercise, and if you don’t have access to weights, the push-up will be your best bet for targeting the pecs.

Decline push-ups increase the difficulty of a standard push-up based on the same principles of gravity that make incline push-ups easier than standard push-ups.

By placing your feet up on a chair, couch, or elevated box, you’ll increase the challenge for your upper body because your pecs and arms will have more gravity to contend with when pressing back up. 

To make the exercise easier, keep your ankles and lower shins on the elevated surface as well, and if you’re a push-up beast, walk your hands all the way forward so that just your toes are pressing into the chair and the rest of your body is suspended.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get in a push-up position with arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. One leg at a time, lift each foot, and plant your toes up on a chair, couch, bed, bench, or box behind you. The higher the surface, the harder this chest exercise will be.
  3. You should now be in a standard push-up position with your feet elevated behind you.
  4. Keep your glutes and abs engaged, and perform 15-25 push-ups using good form and bring your chest as low as you can go without touching the floor.
A person doing a isometric push up.

#7: Push-Up Holds

This is a good exercise for at-home chest workouts because you don’t need equipment, and you don’t have to worry about feeling self-conscious when your arms start quaking!

Each rep involves performing an isometric hold or static time under tension.

You will build muscular endurance and strength in the chest, triceps, and core.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get into the standard push-up position and bend your elbows to lower your body as you would with a normal push-up.
  2. Instead of immediately pressing back up to the starting position, pause and hold yourself in the lowered position for 10 to 20 seconds.
  3. Press back up to the starting position.
  4. Gradually increase the length of time for each isometric hold as well as the number of reps you do.
  5. Start with 3-5 reps with a 10-second hold and build up to 10-20 reps with up to a 30-second hold.
A person doing a plyometric push up.

#8: Plyometric Push-Ups

This bodyweight chest exercise can be equated to the jump squat of push-ups. 

You’ll be explosively generating power to propel both hands off the ground simultaneously, and then you will have to use your chest muscles and arms to absorb the impact, as with plyometric jumps. 

In between each push-up, you will clap your hands.

This exercise gets your heart rate up while adding the rigor of impact forces to the muscular demand.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a standard push-up position with your core and glutes engaged.
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your body as you would with a normal push-up.
  3. On the way up, press forcefully into the ground, exploding upward so that your entire upper body and hands are airborne, but your feet remain planted on the ground.
  4. Quickly clap your hands together once under your chest and then get them back into position—shoulder-width apart—to catch you on your landing.
  5. Move seamlessly into the next plyometric push-up by bending your elbows and lowering your chest toward the ground without touching down.
  6. Complete 10 to 25 reps.
A person doing a push up.

#9: Diamond Push-Ups

Unfortunately, one of the challenges with building muscle with no equipment for chest workouts is that it can be difficult to get enough resistance to stimulate muscle growth.

With that said, bodyweight chest exercises that really isolate the pecs allow you to put enough load on the muscles for strength and size gains.

This challenging, no-equipment chest exercise does just that.

By moving your hands all the way to the center under your chest in this narrow-grip push-up, you’ll increase the difficulty of stabilizing your body because you’ve reduced your base of support.

This requires more core activation while also transferring more of the load to your pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps. 

If you are not yet strong enough to complete the full range of motion when your hands are touching one another, you can work up to this advanced position by gradually reducing the distance between your two hands with a standard push-up.

Here are the steps:

  1. Get into the standard push-up position, but instead of placing your hands shoulder-width apart, move them in towards the center, placing your fingertips and thumbs together so that your hands form a diamond under your chest.
  2. From this position, lower your chest toward the ground by bending your elbows until they are flexed to a 90° angle.
  3. Press through your palms to engage your pecs and return to the starting position.
  4. Complete 10 to 25 reps.
A person doing a negative push up.

#10: Negative Push-Ups

If you’re going to be doing a lot of at-home chest workouts, it’s absolutely worth it to invest in a set of push-up handles.

There are tons of affordable, effective models available these days, like the PushX3.

Push-up handles not only improve the ergonomics of the push-up and reduce stress and strain on your wrist but they also could be used to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Because your hands are elevated off of the surface of the ground, you can actually drop your body lower than floor height if you elevate your feet as well because the handles have a height to them.

This allows you to get super-targeted chest workouts.

Performing a push-up by holding onto the handles of hexagonal dumbbells allows you to go deeper during the lowering phase of the push-up. This can help strengthen the chest and maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.

Here are the steps:

  1. Grab onto the push-up handles and plant them on the ground slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your palms facing one another. 
  2. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to just above the ground so that you’re sinking lower than you would if your hands were flat on the ground.
  3. Press through your hands to lift your body back up until your elbows are extended but not fully locked out.
  4. Complete 20 reps using good form.

Although working out with weights is great for building strength and size, you can get a good chest workout without equipment.

If you are looking to work more than just your chest, check out our Full Bodyweight Workout: No Equipment Necessary!

A person doing a push-up on a ledge.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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