To train the chest completely, we usually three main parts of the pecs – the upper, middle and lower chest muscles. The distinction between targeting each of the parts relies on your body position when performing exercises such as the chest press. Indeed, the chest press (whether using a barbell or dumbbells) is the main exercise most often used to build a big chest.
But what do you do at home when you don’t have the weights but still want to train your chest and do it effectively? It’s not easy but it is possible. We’re not making any excuses to skip working out, and the lack of equipment has never stopped us, so let’s get down to it.
In order to choose the right exercises that you can do at home with your own bodyweight, we have to understand how targeting each part of the chest actually works. You see, it’s all about the position of your hands and the degree at which you press the weight. So if you’re doing the flat bench press, you’re targeting mainly mid chest. If you’re doing the incline bench press, you’re targeting upper chest, and you’re targeting the lower chest with the decline bench press.
The bodyweight exercise for the chest is of course the push up. You’re targeting the same muscles when performing this exercise as you would with the bench press. And it’s not difficult to see, there’s the same arm movement as you push your own weight off the floor as it is when pressing a barbell. If you need to make it harder, you can put a heavy backpack on your back, so this exercise can be as effective as you need it to be.
Decline Push Ups
To target more of the upper chest muscles, you will have to elevate your legs on a bench or against a wall and perform the decline push ups. The arm movement in this case is the same as with the incline bench press, and you will notice that it’s much harder to perform push ups this way, just as you can press only lighter weights on an incline bench. The more you elevate your legs, the more load goes higher up the chest, and the more shoulders are engaged (handstand push up).
Incline Push Ups
Finally, we have incline push ups. You may think this exercise is way too easy (obviously, you can press the most weight on a decline bench too), and you’d be right. However, keep in mind that if you perform incline push ups after having complete previous exercises your muscles will already be exhausted and it will be challenging enough. In addition, you can lift one leg up to destabilize your body and engage the core, or use a heavy weight backpack.
So now that we have the tree exercises required to train your chest without any equipment, we can make a complete workout of them. The protocol is simple – we’ll perform all three exercises in a circuit to failure.
Start with the decline push ups with your legs elevated on a bench or against the wall and do as many reps as you can. Then, move on to the regular push ups till failure. Finally, finish the circuit off with incline push ups. Repeat the circuit 3-4 times or as much as you can.
- Decline push ups – till failure
- Push ups – till failure
- Incline push ups – till failure
- Repeat 3-4 times