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9 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Chest Pecs (No Gym Required)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: March 23, 2023

You can tailor chest workouts to your specific fitness needs and goals to get the most out of each exercise.

However, with the variety of exercises, deciding which is the best for your pecs can be confusing. This is why I've taken my time to extensively research and experiment with the best bodyweight chest workouts and equipment over the years.

According to my findings, a combination of free weights, resistance bands, and bodyweight exercises can make your chest muscles toned and muscular.

Quick Summary

  • Incline and decline push-ups, dips, and star plank, among other bodyweight chest exercises, can help you build strong, toned pecs.
  • Bodyweight chest exercises can improve your upper body composition.
  • You don’t need weights or a gym membership to strengthen and tone your pectoral muscles.

9 Best Bodyweight Exercises for Pectoral Muscles

best bodyweight exercise for chest pecs

The best bodyweight chest exercises should effectively target the pectoral muscles with little or no equipment.

However, an equally important part of these exercises is warm-up. Simple exercises like dynamic stretching and foam roller pec stretch can improve motion and reduce muscle strain, pain, and injury.

“Overworking certain muscle groups (like the lats and teres major with a ton of pulling exercises or your pecs with a lot of benching) can create imbalances that further mobility restrictions and worsen pain.”

- Aaron Horsching, MD

A quality warm-up should last around 5 to 15 minutes and be followed by proper chest workout techniques. Let’s dive right into them.

1. Incline Push-ups

The incline push-up requires an elevated surface such as a bench, chair, or staircase:

  • Begin by placing your hands shoulder-width apart on the surface with your feet on the ground and glutes tight.
  • Ensure your elbows are rotated in and go down until your chest is just above the surface.
  • Then, go up by pushing your body away from the surface until your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat incline push-up motion for the desired number of repetitions.

You can modify this exercise by adjusting the inclined surface and including more reps. To get a quality workout, I aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.

2. Decline Push-ups

Doing decline push-ups on a platform

The next exercise is the decline push-up, another variation of the basic push-up:

  • Place your feet on a raised surface, such as a bench, and your hands on the ground. This will put your body at a downward angle.
  • Lower your body towards the ground while keeping your back straight.
  • Bend your elbows to the sides and out at a 45-degree angle.
  • Push your body up, and repeat.

To maximize the benefits of decline push-up, perform the exercise slowly and with control.

3. Diamond Push-ups

Diamond push-up is one of the hardest because it engages your whole weight.

However, it’s a great home triceps workout:

  • Get in a standard push-up position with your hands close together and your index fingers and thumbs forming a diamond shape.
  • Lower your body down until your chest nearly touches the floor.
  • Press back up to the starting position.

You can modify the exercise by performing it on your knees or elevating your feet on a bench or chair.

You can check our full step-by-step diamond push-up guide.

4. Dips

Doing chest dips

Dips are another great upper back strength training exercise.

Its push-up variations include the chest and triceps dips, targeting the chest muscles, triceps, and delts:

  • Start seated with your hands on the edge of a bench or chair.
  • Lift your body off the bench and lower yourself until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Then press back up to the starting position.

You can make the dips more challenging by increasing the number of repetitions or by adding more weight. I recommend 3 sets of 10 reps.

Related: Dips vs Bench Press

5. Plyo Push-up

The plyo push-up is an intense, dynamic workout that combines strength and speed to help build pec muscles, power, and endurance:

  • Get in a standard pushup position with your hands and feet on the ground.
  • Lower your chest to the floor and then explosively push up with enough force to lift your hands off the ground.
  • Once you’re on the top of the pushup, clap your hands and immediately lower your body back to the ground.
  • Repeat this motion for a set number of repetitions, according to your fitness level.

6. Resistance Band Push-Ups

Performing resistance push ups

These are complex variations of push-ups.  Research has proven that elastic resistance provides similar strength gain to conventional resistance devices [1].

The resistance band strengthens the push-up, making the exercise more effective.

For this exercise:

  • Get in a basic push-up position and wrap the resistance band on your upper body, around your back, and just below your shoulder blades.
  • As you lower your body, the band will provide additional resistance, engaging the pectoral muscles and making the exercise more challenging.
  • The band will provide support as you push back up, allowing you to engage in your desired repetitions while intensifying the exercise.

7. Spiderman Push-ups

The spiderman push-up is a high-intensity muscle training exercise that engages the chest muscles, shoulders, triceps, obliques, and quadriceps.

It’s one of my favorite full-body workouts: 

  • Start in a push-up position with your hands and feet on the ground.
  • From there, stagger your hands and lower your torso to the ground.
  • Bring one knee towards your elbow, at the hip level. The hips should not touch the ground.
  • Repeat several times (10-15 reps), and then push yourself back to the starting position and repeat with the other knee.

Keep your back straight and your core tight throughout the exercise for maximum benefit.

8. Standard Push-ups

Performing push ups indoors

The standard push-up is simple to perform and requires no equipment.

It’s a great exercise if you’re starting a chest workout:

  • Start on the ground with your arms extended, shoulder width apart, and feet together.
  • Slowly lower your body until your chest lightly touches the ground, and then press back up.
  • Elevate your feet on a raised surface or perform push-ups in a single-arm variation for an extra challenge. You can begin with your right or left arm.

Keep your body in a straight line, back straight, and core engaged while doing the exercise.

9. Star Plank

The star plank also targets the chest, shoulders, and core muscles and can be done virtually anywhere:

  • Get in a side plank position, and then slowly extend the left arm and leg away from the body in opposite directions to form a star shape.
  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then switch arms and legs.
  • Repeat the exercise for 3-5 sets of 10-15 seconds each.

Benefits of These Exercises

Showing chest muscles highlighted for pecs

Bodyweight chest workouts use your weight as resistance, which can be effective in building lean muscle mass and improving entire body composition.

These exercises can also be done anywhere without additional equipment, making them a convenient and cost-effective way to build strength.

You can easily modify them to suit your fitness level.

Furthermore, they are ideal for developing core stability and improving coordination and balance.


What Exercises Build Pecs the Fastest?

Exercises that build pecs the fastest include resistance band bench press, dips, and one-arm push-ups. However, keep the intensity of these exercises high to speed up the process.

How Can I Build My Pecs at Home?

You can build pecs at home by engaging in variations of push-ups, tricep dips, and bench presses, which target the chest muscles. Investing in a set of dumbbells or a resistance band can help you do more targeted exercises that work the pecs more effectively.

Can You Build Pecs Without Weights?

You can build pecs without weights. Body weight exercises such as regular push-ups, spiderman push-ups, dips, and chest touches can help you develop a muscular chest. Variety is key to achieving the desired results.

Challenge Yourself with Bodyweight Exercises for Pecs

Bodyweight exercises like dips and planks can challenge your pecs and strengthen your chest area.

However, muscle building is much more than just working out, which is why I always advise my clients to add high-quality protein powders into the mix. We tested most of the popular products on the market to find the best ones:

Try these out to ensure your body gets the essential nutrients it needs to build lean muscle more quickly and effectively.


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