The Chest Workout You Can Do Without Any Weights
Hope You Like Push-Ups!
It's true: If you want to get a reallllly good chest workout, weights are your friend. The top six exercises for recruiting and strengthening the pectoral (chest) muscles all involve using weights or a weight machine as resistance, according to a study done by the American Council on Exercise. (See: Dumbbell bench presses and chest flys.) That said, if you don't have any real equipment on-hand, you can still get a solid chest workout with one of the best bodyweight moves out there: the push-up. (And, FYI, your ability to do push-ups just just predict your heart disease risk.)
These five push-up variations work different angles of your chest (and triceps and core and back). If you're ready to level up, grab a cheap pair of dumbbells and a medicine ball off Amazon and try this chest workout for women.)
How it works: Warm up, then do each move for the indicated number of reps. Repeat the circuit three times total.
You'll need: An elevated surface about a foot high (like a step)
Don't breeze past this modified push-up variation because you think you're too strong; this stacked lineup of push-up moves are sure to tire out your chest and arms.
- Start in a modified pushup position, with knees turned out to the sides, feet pressed together, and hands shoulder-width.
- Brace abs in tight and, keeping spine naturally straight, bend elbows in by sides and lower torso to the floor, stopping a few inches above the ground.
- Quickly press back up.
Do 10 reps.
Lowering all the way to the floor allows you to tap into a greater range of motion, meaning you can recruit more muscles and build more strength.
- Start in a high plank position with hands slightly outside shoulders.
- Slowly lower body all the way to the floor, keeping core tight.
- Once lying on the floor, momentarily lift both palms off the floor.
- Press palms back down onto the floor and press up body up (keeping core tight and a straight line from head to toes) to return to start.
Do 10 reps.
More reps don't always equal more results. That's especially true when it comes to isometric exercises, which build muscular endurance by holding you in place against the pull of gravity or a machine. This move is killer but, hey, at least you only need to do 5 reps! (P.S. this is also an amazing exercise for your back muscles.)
- Start in high plank position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width, feet hip-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels.
- Bend elbows and lower body until hovering a few inches above the ground. Hold for 1 deep breath, and then press half-way up and hold for 1 deep breath.
- Lower back down to your lowest point, holding for 1 deep breath.
- Return to your half-way point for one more hold.
Do 5 reps.
Medicine Ball Push-Up
Doing a push-up with your hands on different levels will force you to use each arm independently—and you'll see which one needs a lot more work. If you don't have a medicine ball (after all, we said "no weights!"), you can use another ball (like a basketball) or elevated surface like a yoga block or step. That said, performing these on something unstable (read: can roll) adds an extra challenge.
- Start in high plank position with left hand on top of a medicine ball, right hand on the floor. Engage legs and draw belly button up and in.
- Keeping the body in a straight line, bend elbows and slowly lower down as far as possible. Press up through both hands to return to starting position.
Do 8 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Add a bout of cardio while you're burning out those chest muscles: this push-up jack will skyrocket your heart rate and also turn your arms to Jell-O.
- Start in high plank position.
- As you lower down into the pushup, jump legs out.
- Press up and jump feet together to return to start.
Do 10 reps.