It’s becoming more and more convenient for anyone to get a workout in with little-to-no equipment. Whether you are travelling, training at home, or simply need a break from the weights, using your bodyweight can reap many obvious rewards including some you may have never thought of before.
Not only is it more natural to lift and manipulate your very own bodyweight, it’s also a great way to develop whole body strength. While performing a push up, for example, you are essentially doing a dynamic planking motion with your core tight, glutes engaged, and back activated. It’s easy to see the many benefits of throwing in some equipment-free exercises to your arsenal.
Here are 5 great chest exercises you can do without equipment to change up your workout routine.
1. Push Up
The standard push up has been a staple for decades. Seen as a measurement for upper body fitness, the push up and all of its variations has stood the test of time and is back in the spotlight. It’s interesting to see this age-old exercise referenced as if it is something new to the fitness arena. Simple, challenging, and convenient, it should remain a part of anyone’s program.
Of course the ways to intensify its effectiveness may be new for some. The standard floor push up is nice, but what about a challenge? For progressions try the elevated feet version or the hands-elevated type which allows you to dip your bodyweight below your hands. Or try a staggered hand placement with one on an elevated block and one hand on the ground. There’s also triceps diamond push-ups, parallettes or alternating, cross-overs, and push ups on a medicine ball. The key is to keep a tight core, chest out, and focus on a controlled, full range of motion.
2. Parallel Bar Dip
Not just for triceps, the parallel bar dip is a wicked chest demolisher. Dips performed a specific way can be as effective as direct chest work. The dip is another real-world, bodyweight move that tests control, endurance, and mettle. Working not only your chest and triceps, but also core stability, deltoids, traps and grip, the dip is just one more staple to add to your list – and for good reason.
Start in the top position with your hands straight down by your sides gripping the bars. Lower your body and lean your chest forward and flare your elbows a bit. This will put you in a key position to activate your chest by giving it a good stretch. Hold and feel this stretch at the bottom of the range of motion for a count before pushing back up. As you push back up, keep your chest forward and actively contract it as you press up. Think of the dip as a pressing movement more than an arm dipping motion.
3. Scapula Push
Weird name, tough to master, but highly effective. The scapula push, sometimes called a "Push Up Plus," is a subtle movement, almost an isolation exercise. You are already familiar with shrugs and may be familiar with scapula pulls, but pushes are a different animal altogether. Providing stability, control and a need for focus, this exercise requires your utmost attention to detail.
Get in the traditional push up position with your hands placed a bit wider than your shoulders. With your elbows locked or nearly locked and rigid, lower your chest toward the floor while maintaining straight arms. Think of this almost as a shrug for your upper back. Once you are in the low position (this range of motion will only be a few inches), reverse the direction and push up with your chest. Be sure your chest is out, arms are straight, and you are performing the movement slowly and under strict control.
4. Plyometric Push Up
You may be asking why this one isn't included in number one above. Because plyometric type moves are completely different when it comes to how they recruit muscle fibers, what systems they tax, and the sheer nature of how they are structured in a program and performed. Plyometric movements are unlike strength moves. Plyometrics utilize the stretch reflex therefore creating, harnessing, and releasing a massive amount of force. Other forms can include depth jumps, bounds, and plyo sit-ups, just to name a few.
For a traditional plyo push up, start in the normal push up position. Lower your chest to the ground under control. Once you are in the bottom position, push off as fast and as hard as you can. You should launch your upper body into the air. Once you return to the floor, “catch” yourself and lower under control to “blast-off” again from the floor. This rapid stretch and contraction motion will recruit a ton of muscle fibers and develop some power in your chest. This, in turn, will translate to better performance during your regular workouts.
5. TRX Trainer Push/Fly
Okay, I’ll admit this one isn’t necessarily “without equipment,” but hear me out. The TRX trainer is minimal, but it's highly functional and effective for growing new muscle in a very challenging way. Stability and balance are key, making you work overtime just to perform the movement correctly. This, in turn, ups the intensity and gives you more bang for your buck.
Performing push presses and flys on a TRX trainer will make your pecs work overtime. Again, stability and balance will force you to up the intensity while pummeling your chest into new growth. How far you place your feet behind you determines the difficulty. Far behind you and a lower angle to the floor increases the load. The more upright you are, the easier the move becomes.
The No Equipment Chest Workout
Try this no equipment chest workout. Do 3 to 5 rounds total of as many reps as possible with a 2 minute rest after each round.
|Plyometric Push Up||3-5||AMRAP|
|Parallel Bar Dips (21s)||3-5||AMRAP|
|Feet-Elevated Push Ups||3-5||AMRAP|