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7 Best Bodyweight Chest Exercises – No Equipment Necessary…

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Most people believe is that if you’re not doing rounds on the bench press or dumbbell flyes, you are not going to go far when it comes to your chest’s development. Funnily enough, that could not be further away from the truth. In reality, there are a lot of great bodyweight chest exercises that will help you sculpt your chest to perfections, without the use of any equipment and even from the comfort of your home.

While it is true that in order to achieve peak muscular development weighs are mandatory. This is simply because they allow for a wider range of movement (ROM), more exercise variations and to benefit from progressive overload.

That being said, that does not mean that bodyweight exercises carry no value. On the contrary. Especially given the specific circumstances that stops you from going to the gym (no judgement here) – there are quite a few powerful bodyweight exercises that will allow you to achieve amazing muscle building results.

This is why I’ve decided to share with you my personal favorite 7 bodyweight chest exercises without the use of any equipment.

7 Best Bodyweight Chest Exercises

#1 Chest Dips

bodyweight_chest_exercise

 

A common trend that you’re going to notice in most calisthenic articles is that the number one bodyweight exercise for chest that they list is the push-up.

While push-ups are great, and they are definitely on this list, I personally believe that the chest variations dips deserve first place.

In order to understand why is this so we need to ask ourselves what makes a good chest exercise?

As I have already described in my previous article “The Best Exercises for Each Muscle Group” – the reason why I chose dips for chest is because this exercise best targets the chest’s two main functions.

Those two being – adduction of the arm towards the front plane of the body (which means moving your arms in front of your body) and moving your arms towards the sagittal plane of the body (moving your arms down towards your lower body.

bodyweight_chest_exercises_at_home

The push up only activates one of the two, which literally means that if you’re mainly focusing on pushups as your go to chest bodyweight exercise then that means that you’re losing 50% of the muscle activation and, er go 50% of the muscle growth potential.

An important detail here is that I am referring to the chest variation – as dips have a triceps variations that better targets the triceps and a chest variation that better targets the chest.

The main element that differentiates the two is the rotation of your torso.

When your torso is leaning towards, instead of being in an upright position like during the triceps variation, it is bent over. Something else you can do is try and place your feet behind the body to help with balance.

Chest-Dip-vs-tricep-dips

This allows for the chest’s moving your arms in front of your body functionality is to be activated.

I hope I have properly justified why I believe that dips is one the best bodyweight chest exercises, nay the best chest exercise.

With all of that being said, it’s probably about time to describe the proper execution of the exercise.

How to:

This exercise can be done both at the gym and at home.

When at the gym you would want to file two parallel bars commonly referred to as the “dipping station”, or at least that’s what I call it.

Grab on the bars (if the bars are adjustable make sure that they are at shoulder width) and lift yourself up. This is your starting position.

Like I said, you will be emphasising on your chest and because of that you would want to ever so slightly forward. Something that I’ve found to help maintain your balance is tucking your legs towards your chest.

From this point you would want to lower yourself. Don’t go too far, you would want to go down to the point where you feel the highest stretch in your chest. Going any further than that can potentially lead to muscle tear or shoulder damage.

As you are lowering your bodyweight you want to slightly flair your elbows outwards – this will allow for a better chest stretch.

Also, you want to make sure that your eccentric contraction (i.e. you lowering yourself down) is slow and controlled and not literally dropping your weight. Remember, that’s where the majority of muscle strain comes from.

Once you start bringing yourself up, don’t go all the way up where you lock your elbows. This takes away the stress from the chest and triceps and adds to your joints. This is something that you want to avoid at all cost as it may lead to injury and you’re taking away the exercise’s effectiveness.

Once you bring yourself up to your starting position you want to focus on activating the chest as much as possible. Something that I’ve found to help is flexing your chest. This makes sure that you’re focusing more on your chest rather than your triceps to bring your weight up.

If you find yourself not being able to bring yourself up all the way then… don’t.

You will gradually build up the strength to complete the full exercise. As a starter it’s enough to focus on eccentric contraction. Negative sets, which is exactly that, are a powerful method to build muscle. Great results come slowly – not a race, but a marathon.

I’m packed with a lot of analogies, I know.

Something that I did mention is that this exercise can be done at home. And don’t worry, you don’t have to purchase expensive parallel bar gym equipment to do so.

All you need is two chairs that are placed parallel and are positioned in a way that would make sure that they don’t budge. Or if you have any weights hanging around you can place the on the chairs, like this guy did:

dips-at-home

Also, you will need to make sure that the chairs’ backrests are at about shoulder width.

I have personally done this a thousand times. At hotel rooms and in my old student dorm when I couldn’t really afford an expensive monthly gym membership.

However, if you feel that you’re placing yourself in too much risk or that there is no space in your home where you can comfortably place the two chairs parallel and secured, then just don’t attempt it.

Here is a video of Scott Herman showcasing the chest variation of dips and even provides more intel what differentiates it from the triceps variation:

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