Everybody wants a big chest! But we can’t always get to the gym- and sometimes we need some good chest exercises without equipment.
So, I reached out to some fellow experts in the industry and got a list of the BEST chest exercises without equipment.
No fluff, I’m not putting any ‘lame’ chest exercises in here, most of these should be more than good enough to get that chest exploding.
So, here are the 12 best chest exercises without equipment!
- Push Ups
- Weighted Push Ups
- Svend Press
- Diamond push Ups
- Dive Bomber Push Ups
- Dynamic Plyo Push Up
- Slow Negative To Isometric Push up
- Decline Push Up
- Archer Push Ups
But, let’s cover all of these in-depth below- plus, there will be a video showing how to do every exercise!
Push Ups (The Best)
I think all of us have been doing push-ups since we were 5. But, even though it’s an exercise that seems so boring to us, it’s actually one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do.
Now, obviously- most of us know that push ups work the chest. But, there’s actually a lot more to it than you think.
Coach Rob Arthur, NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist said:
“I’d love to help you out with your article on the best bodyweight chest exercises.
While it’s simple and well-known, it would be an oversight not to mention the standard push-up.
Not only will push ups work the pectoralis muscles in the chest and the triceps in the arms, but also the front deltoids in the shoulders and the serratus anterior under the armpits.
To really work those serratus muscles, get into proper position by reaching into the floor, exhaling, and creating a hump with the upper back.
Strengthening the serratus can also have a profound impact on shoulder health, due to their role in scapular (shoulder blade) movement.
To really reap the rewards of push-ups, focus on keeping your core tight and squeezing your legs together.
Maintaining this position and moving slowly through the entire range of motion will help you make the most of your push-up efforts, too.
If you’re not able to do all of this in a controlled manner, there’s nothing wrong with elevating your hands to a chair or pressing against a wall.
Choosing one of these options, as opposed to using your knees on the floor, will help keep the entire body engaged.”
So, in conclusion- push ups work every major chest muscle you need, and work to develop stronger shoulders. I know I’m not alone when I complain about shoulder pain when bench pressing, and doing push ups are a great way to safely build up that scapula and strengthen the joint overall.
Furthermore, push ups are a great core exercise as it contracts your ab muscles the whole time you are doing them. This is done to balance your body and keep it in-line.
So, yes, I know push ups sound like a ‘kid’ exercise- but they really aren’t. And even if you bench press regularly, push ups can be a great temporary substitute if you can’t get a hold of any equipment. They are much better than you think!
Weighted Push Ups
I know some of you bench hundreds of pounds and you’re just convinced that push ups won’t do anything for you.
And in a way, you’re kind of right. Doing normal push ups may not have an effect on you because the weight/resistance is so much lower than what your body is used to. And this means you won’t really be ‘working’ your muscles, it’d be the same as doing curls with a 5 lb weight.
So, try weighted push ups. They are one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do. Even if you bench hundreds of pounds, you may find weighted push ups very challenging!
I know this may sound obvious, but a lot of people actually completely dismiss how powerful weighted push ups really are.
Jay Soriano, a personal trainer from Maui said,
“When you have a strong bench press (1.5x bodyweight), the thought of push-ups for hypertrophy can seem rather underwhelming.
If you really want to get creative, you can try weighted push ups. I used to have my girlfriend sit on my back while doing a few push-ups. I’d say it felt like an equivalent to 225-250lbs on the bench press.”
So if you have a friend, try it out. Or if you think it’s werid, just have a friend add heavy things onto your back.
If you don’t have any friends (like me), you can take a backpack, load it up with textbooks from school or whatever you can get your hands on, and then do push ups with that on.
When the gyms were closed, I used to take ALL of my textbooks, toss them in my backpack, and do push ups and go running with it on.
It doesn’t sound tough at first, but you’d be really surprised what that weight can do.
Normally dips are used to grow the triceps. But, when you change the angle you are doing dips at, you start targeting the chest and not the triceps.
To target the chest, just lean forward when you’re dipping, instead of being in a straight line.
In fact, in a lot of workout programs like The Arnold Blueprint to Mass, dips are listed as one of the most fundamental chest exercises you can do.
Our friend Vincent from LiveForLifts said, “The chest dip hits the whole chest and triceps, but mainly the lower chest.
Bodyweight exercises are more difficult and challenging than usual, but this one even more as you have no other ways to stabilize your chest other than your arms and core.”
So, lean forward a bit and feel that chest go. You don’t need a dip machine for this, you can simply use like the corner of a kitchen counter or two park benches. You can get really creative with it actually.
Everybody knows diamond push ups as one of the hardest chest exercises out there. In fact, there are many bodybuilders that still can’t do them!
But, did you know that diamond push-ups are one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do?
Harland Adkins, dietitian and fitness expert said:
“The chest consists of two important muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. Hence, it is imperative that one trains the chest with a targeted workout program. Here’s how to build a bigger upper body with a diamond push up.
The diamond push-up is undoubtedly one of the best bodyweight chest exercises, directly targeting your pectoral muscles.
Lie on the floor in a prone position and quickly transition yourself into a plank. Place the palms close to each other at a distance thatis smaller than the width of the shoulders. Gradually raise yourself until the arms are fully extended and perpendicular to the body.
Ensure that the body is straight throughout the duration of the exercise. Pause for a second and return to the starting position. You will be performing push-ups with your hands next to each other underneath your sternum. It can help to have your thumbs touching and your pointer fingers touching for support. Repeat the exercise for the recommended number of times. Vary the position of the hands to target different regions of the pectoral muscles.
The diamond push-up is an advanced variation of the regular push-up, which is very effective in toning the inner pectoral muscles present in the chest region. In addition, the exercise tones the triceps, biceps, and deltoids.
Diamond push-ups will increase your triceps activation and bring a lot of definition to the back of your arms”.
So, if you’re looking for a great chest exercise, tricep exercise, and you want to get that inner pec definition- diamond push ups are the way to go.
The Svend Press is one of the most incredible chest exercises without equipment you can do.
While it can be done without equipment, I recommend picking up a decently heavy textbook or rock- whatever small object you can get in your hands really- to get better muscle growth and activation from this.
Jake Harcoff, certified strength and conditioning specialist, said, “Svend Press – This is a very versatile exercise that can be done with or without equipment, as well as either a stationary isometric hold or dynamic movement.
The great thing about this exercise is that you control the intensity of it. The harder you press your hands together, the more stress will be placed on the lateral fibers and sternal head of the pectoralis major muscles.
Alternatively, if the exercise is done with the addition of an upward shoulder raise, the clavicular head of the pec major muscles can also be targeted. Think of this exercise as the fully adducted portion of a chest fly.”
Simply put, the Svend Press is basically a replacement for the chest/pectoral fly. And as we all know, the chest/pectoral fly exercise is probably the best exercise for chest growth.
If you want a TON of chest growth, do the Svend Press.
Okay, please don’t put a pitchfork through me- I know nobody likes doing burpees, but they are one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do!
Here’s the thing, burpees actually give a really good stretch on your upper chest as you bring your hands up in the air. It’s not just the part where you do a push up, but the whole movement works out your chest.
According to Adanna Jideofor, “
The best chest exercise that I do without any equipment is burpees. Apart from being a chest exercise, burpees are a full-body strength training exercise that strengthens my muscles, speeds up my metabolism and it can be done anywhere even in the car park.
Burpees also target the muscles in your shoulders, glutes, quads, and hamstring. So if you want an exercise that will really make you sweat and burn calories, you should try doing burpees.
So, yes, I know we all HATE burpees. But hear me out, it’s a great chest exercise that especially targets that inner chest- and it will build your whole cardiovascular system at the same time.
If you’re looking for more than just a chest exercise, and a full body workout, burpees should be the next thing on your list.
Many poeple don’t realize this, but swimming is one of the best chest exercises without equipment you can do,
In fact, Charles Glass, the godfather of bodybuilding says swimming is one of the best chest/back exercises. He says that you get a fantastic stretch on your lat muscles that really can’t be matched with typical gym machines when you swim.
And poeple don’t really realize how much your chest and back are activated when you swim. Think about it, you need to constantly stretch your arms in circles which constantly activates all of your chest (upper, lower, middle) and all of your back.
According to M.D Robert Wolf, “If there is no equipment, an alternate option is swimming, with breaststroke and the butterfly the most helpful for strengthening the chest. Alternatively, water aerobics will work well too“.
Swimming is actually used by some bodybuilders to really get that stretch in their chest and back as they prepare for a competition. They get a HUGE range of motion and the water adds good resistance. Plus, it’s great cardio at the same time.
While some could argue that a swimming pool is technically ‘equipment’, I know many people have lakes/oceans/even a swimming pool nearby that they can access regularly- even if the gym isn’t accessible. So I still wanted to include it.
Dive Bomber Push Ups
Certified personal trainer and owner of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, Coach Allan, told us about dive bomber push ups, one of the best chest exercises without equipment you can do.
Here’s what he said:
“You start the movement in the normal push-up position then lift your butt up into an inverted V (this is the starting position). Guide your upper chest toward the floor. Then, shift your chest forward. Lowering your pelvis, you press your upper body up. Reverse the motion to get back to the starting position.
This challenging movement works upper, middle, and lower portions of the chest. With slow, dynamic movement, you are keeping the chest muscles under tension much longer than a standard pushup”.
This is a great chest exercise that doesn’t leave the other parts of your chest left out. Plus, that time under tension is really good for actively growing the chest.
If you’re someone that is focused on ‘chest aesthetics’ (like chest hypertrophy, not chest strength) the dive bomb push up may be the perfect chest exercise for you.
Dynamic Plyo Push Up
I know some of us- including myself- just love explosive exercises. If you’re into that fast-paced stuff, the dynamic plyo push up is for you. It’s one of the best chest exercises without equipment out there and will definitely get you sweating.
Here’s what Casey Bloemke of Farrell’s body shaping said,
“It’s a push up where you push up so hard that you get air and clap your hands before you land. It works the explosive, fast twitch muscle fibers of the chest, which have the biggest potential for growth. A set of ten will do the trick!“
So, if you’re more of my style where you want that fast paced explosive exercise- try the dynamic pylo push up!
Slow Negative To Isometric Push Up
Slow Negative to Isometric Push Ups are one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do
Simply put, the slow negative into the isometric part of the exercise puts a TON of tension to your chest, which is one of the most crucial factors in chest growth. Usually, when you bench press- there is a lot of time your chest isn’t exactly under full tension.
However, when you do a push up like this, you put a ton of tension which basically FORCES chest growth due to how hard your chest muscles have to work.
Casey Bloemke of Farrell’s body shaping said,
“A push up where you lower yourself for 10 full seconds to one inch from the floor, then hold for 10 seconds, then raise for 10 seconds. This time under serious tension is sure to add to your chest muscular endurance. Run this 3 times and you’ll feel it!”
This is best for people that want to build that ‘aesthetic’ part of the chest.
Decline Push Up
The decline push up is a a less known exercise, but it is one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do.
Most people actually don’t really work their lower chest. But, working your lower chest is a great way to get a lot of chest definition and really make those pecs ‘pop’.
Casey Bloemke of Farrell’s Body Shaping said,
“With our feet up on a bench or chair and our hands on the ground, this angle will maximize the effort being used by the clavicular head of the chest muscles (upper chest). This area is more difficult to focus on and is a favorite for most guys to build. I run this set until complete muscle failure!”
So get your lower pecs working and build a 3D chest with the decline push up!
Archer Push Ups
Archer Push Ups are a super unique version of the push up, but it targets the chest muscles so well that it is one of the best chest exercises without equipment that you can do.
Matthew Paxton, founder of Hypernia said, “Archer Pushups are one of my favorite pushup variations because of how you can feel how the exercise really isolates your pecs. With that nice stretching motion, you’re going to be tearing deep into those muscle fibers because one of your pecs has to work against the majority of your bodyweight’s load. It’s great for building strength and promoting growth on your chest.”
If you end up finding yourself dreading the standard variations of the push ups and you’re looking for a version of push ups that really isolates those pecs, look no further than this exercise.
Conclusion of the 12 Best Chest Exercises Without Equipment
So here are the 12 best chest exercises without equipment! Hopefully his list helped. If you have any suggestions or chest exercises without equipment that you do, please leave a comment below and I will add it to the list!