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September 19, 2022

Best Calisthenics Chest Workout – Top 15 Exercises

You don’t have to get under a bench press bar or hoist heavy dumbbells to get a great chest workout. In fact, you can do so right at home with nothing but your body weight. There are some great terrific calisthenics chest exercises that will work your pecs through every angle and a complete range of motion.

In this article, I’ll lay out the top 15 calisthenics chest exercises you can do at home to pump up your pecs.

Exercise #1: Push Up

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands planted slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs back to come into a high plank position.
  2. Slowly lower your body to the floor by bending your elbows.
  3. Straighten your elbows to return to the high plank position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your shoulders pressed down.
  • Imagine a straight line running from the top of your head to your heels.
  • Maintain a neutral spine position throughout.

Exercise #2: Alternate Single Arm Push-Up

  1. Begin in a high plank position with your feet spread wider than hip-width apart and your hands planted beneath your shoulders.
  2. Keeping your core engaged, bend your left elbow to bring your chest toward the floor.
  3. Press your left hand into the floor, and extend your elbow to return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the recommended rep count, alternating arms with every rep.
  5. In the video the exercise is shown at 2 minutes 38 seconds.

Training Tips

Exercise #3: Towel Fly Push Up

  1. Put a towel down on the floor and get down in the top push up position with your hands on the towel.
  2. Bring your hands close together so that the towel scrunches up.
  3. Extend your arms back out to full extension
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Maintain a neutral spine position
  • Keep your arms straight.

Exercise #4: Sprawl Push-Up

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend forward from the hips, and place your hands on the floor, walking them forward.
  3. Continue walking your hands forward until you are in a flat push-up position.
  4. Raise your body to a high plank position with your feet spread wider than that hip-width part in your hands planted beneath your shoulders.
  5. Lower your chest back to the floor. You have now completed one rep.
  6. Walk your hands back to your feet to return to a starting position. Continue for the required rep or time account.

Training Tips

  • Keep your legs and back straight during the push-up portion.
  • Perform this exercise as quickly as possible to increase the demand on your cardiovascular system.
  • Avoid pointing your elbows to the side during the downward movement; doing so places excessive stress on the front deltoids.

Exercise #5: Wide Push-Up

  1. Start your hands and knees, with your hands much wider apart than shoulder width.
  2. Push your body up so that your arms are straight, with your legs extended backward, to come into a high plank position. Keep your palms on the floor, your feet together, your back straight, and your weight on the balls of your feet. This is the starting position for this exercise.
  3. Slowly bend your arms and lower your torso toward the floor. Lower as far as you can comfortably go – ideally that will be until your chest touches the floor.
  4. Straighten your arms to rise back to the starting plank position. Continue for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Slightly lean your hands outward so your elbows go toward your hips as you lower yourself to the floor. This will help to avoid shoulder tendinitis.
  • If you cannot keep your back straight during the entire movement, or if you feel back pain, start the exercise on both knees and do a modified push-up version.
  • Do not push your hips into the air.
  • Do not point your elbows to the side during the downward movement. Doing so places undue stress on the front deltoids.

Exercise #6: Dive-Bomber Push-Up

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend forward to place your hands on the floor, also shoulder-width apart. Raise your hips so that your body forms an inverted V.
  2. With a controlled movement, swoop your hips toward the floor was simultaneously raising your chest.
  3. Continue rising up until you are looking toward the ceiling and your back is arched.
  4. Work back down, and then repeat the entire sequence for the recommended rep count.

Training Tips

  • Part your hands firmly on the floor, securely rounding your fingers.
  • Move with complete control, avoiding the use of momentum.

Exercise #7: Shoulder Tap Push-Up

  1. Began in a high plank position with your feet spread wider than hip-width apart and your hands planted directly under your shoulders.
  2. Perform a push-up, lowering yourself until your chest touches the floor.
  3. With your core engaged, press your palms into the floor to return to the high plank position.
  4. Shift your weight onto your left arm so that you are able to lift your right hand to tap your opposite (left) shoulder.
  5. Return your hand back to the floor.
  6. Repeat the entire exercise again, this time bringing your left hand up to your right shoulder.
  7. Continue in this alternating fashion to complete the required rep account, counting one rep as a shoulder tap on both shoulders.
  8. The video should the shoulder Tap Push Up at 2 minutes and 46 seconds.

Training Tips

  • Keep your core engaged and your back straight.
  • Completely shift your body weight before removing a hand from the ground.
  • Keep your hips squared to the floor, avoiding too much movement in your pelvis, even during the weight shift.

Exercise #8: Push-Up Hand Walk-Over

  1. Begin in a high plank position, balancing on your toes with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands together together.
  2. Move your right hand to the right so your hands are in a standard push-up position.
  3. Keeping your torso rigid and your legs straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor to perform a push-up.
  4. Push back up, straightening your elbows to return to the start position.
  5. Move your right hand back to the original starting position.
  6. Now move your left hand to the left so your hands are again in a standard push up position
  7. Perform a push up and return to the original position.
  8. Continue alternating sides to complete the recommended rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your hands aligned under your shoulders.
  • Avoid dipping your shoulders to one side.
  • Do not shift your hips as your hands walk.
  • Do not crane your neck.

Exercise #9: Two-Level Push-Up

  1. Place two aerobics steps or boxes on the floor. Position your palms and shoulder width apart between the steps and assume a high plank position, balancing on your toes with your feet together and your back in a neutral position.
  2. Keeping your torso rigid and your legs straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor to perform a push-up.
  3. In one explosive movement, press up from the floor, extending your arms dynamically to elevate your body with enough explosive power to allow yourself to place your hand on the steps on either side of your torso.
  4. In a high plank position on the steps, repeat the steps above, performing a push-up on the steps, and then catching yourself once again on the floor between the equipment.
  5. You have now completed one rep. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your back straight and your spine in a neutral position at all times.
  • Bend your elbows to absorb the shock of landing.

Exercise #10: Diamond Push-Up

  1. With your hands close together, place your palms on the floor and assume a plank position with your weight on the balls of your feet. Your hands and first fingers should form a diamond shape. Your wrists should be directly beneath your shoulders, with your arms straight and fingers pointing forward.
  2. Descend until your chest just touches the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms to rise back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count

Training Tips

  • Keep your elbows close to your ribcage as you lower your chest to the floor.
  • Avoid pushing your hips into the floor.
  • Do not point your elbows to the side during the downward movement; doing so will place undue stress on the front deltoids.

Exercise #11: Sphinx Push Up

  1. Assume a low plank position with your forearms directly under your shoulders, your palms facing down, your legs extended behind you, and your feet firmly planted.
  2. With the core fully engaged, press into the floor with both hands, extending at your elbows to lift your body away from the floor until your arms are straight and you are in a high plank position.
  3. Bend your elbows until you are again resting on your forearms to return to the starting position.
  4. Continue for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your back straight at all times.
  • Keep your hands in line with your shoulders.
  • Do not excessively arch your spine at any time throughout this movement.

Exercise #12: Star Push up

  1. Lie face down with your arms and legs extended, creating a star -shape with your body.
  2. Keeping your core engaged, simultaneously press your hands and feet into the floor to lift your body. Keep your arms and legs as straight as possible.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your back straight at all times.
  • Make sure that your core is fully engaged.
  • Do not bend your arms or legs throughout this movement.

Exercise #13: Layout Push Up

  1. Lie face down with your feet together. Stretch your arms upward beside your ears on the floor. Engage your pelvic floor, and draw your navel into your spine.
  2. While keeping your core engaged, lift your body up and away from the floor.
  3. Lower yourself back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your core engaged throughout the entire movement.
  • Do not excessively arch your spine.

Exercise #14: Incline Push up

  1. Stand side on to an exercise bench, with your feet about 4 feet back from it, and lean forward to place your hands on the bench padding at shoulder-width distance. Your legs and arms should be straight so that your body forms a straight line from your neck all the way down to your ankles. Engage your core and maintain a neutral spine.
  2. Slowly lower your torso to the bench by bending your elbows. Continue until your chest catches the bench padding.
  3. Straighten your elbows to return to the high plank position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your shoulders pressed down.
  • Imagine a straight line running from the top of your head to your heels.
  • Maintain a neutral spine position throughout.

Exercise #15: Clap Push-Up

  1. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands planted slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Extend your legs back to come into a high plank position.
  2. Slowly lower your body to the floor by bending your elbows.
  3. From the bottom position, explode upwards to bring your hands off the floor. Put your hands together in the top position and then drop back to the ground to assume a shoulder width hand position.
  4. Repeat for the required rep count.

Training Tips

  • Keep your shoulders pressed down.
  • Imagine a straight line running from the top of your head to your heels.
  • Maintain a neutral spine position throughout.
  • Push your hands forcefully into the floor to provide explosive upward power.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you develop your chest with just bodyweight exercises?

 

Yes, you can develop your guest with just bodyweight exercises. However, after about a year’s worth of training your chest will have grown stronger to the point that it needs more resistance than just your body weight. Rather than doing endless repetitions, which will not dramatically increase muscle size, you should look for ways to increase the resistance when doing push-ups. You can do this by wearing a weighted vest or a backpack with weights on it. If you have a training partner, you can also have them put a weight plate on your back when you are doing your push-ups.

 

What should you do when push-ups become too easy?

 

When push-ups become too easy, you should either begin using resistance bands or weights to provide the extra stress that the body needs to build muscle. The push-up is, in effect, the exact same thing as the bench press except that you are moving in the opposite direction. So, starting to do the bench press with a weighted bar is essentially the same thing as adding resistance to the push-up.

Other things you can do when push-ups become too easy are to wear a weighted vest or backpack with weights and to have your training partner put a weight plate on your back when you are doing the exercise.

 

Should you do a hundred push-ups every day?

 

You can do a hundred push-ups every day depending on what your training goal is. If you are doing so merely to achieve that milestone, then there is no problem with it. This type of training will also improve your muscular endurance. It will not, however, make your muscles bigger. For that to happen you need to use a resistance heavy enough that you can’t do more than about 10 reps.

 

How do you work your upper chest without weights?

 

You can work your upper chest without weights by doing decline versions of the push-up. The decline angle will place more stress on your upper pectoral fibers than a regular push-up. We have included incline push-ups as exercise #14 on the list in this article.

You maybe interested in the following chest articles:

Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Chest Exercises for Men and Women 

Best Chest Exercises

Best Way to Lose Chest Fat for Men

Summary

In this article, we have presented you with the 15 top calisthenics exercises to work your chest. You’re now able to put them together into a workout you can do at home anytime you feel like it.

We recommend combining 3 or 4 exercises into a 14-16 set workout. Perform the workout in circuit fashion without any rest between exercises. Start with the easiest (for you) exercise and make each one slightly harder. You should aim for 20-25 reps on each set. Follow this program for 8-12 for maximum gain in pectoral strength and power.

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Steve (Qualfied Personal Trainer and Nutritionist)


Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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