Building a strong chest is essential for both men and women.
By strengthening your chest muscles you help to protect yourself from every day injuries because you put less strain on your back.
Solid chest muscles will help you to be more explosive in a range of exercises and daily activities, and they also help with balance.
The good news is that you don’t need a gym full of specialised equipment for this.
Even though chest exercises with dumbbells can be extremely efficient…
You can sculpt a ripped chest at home with just these two things:
Desire, and these 12 home chest exercises:
Before you start, remember to loosen up your arms, shoulders and wrists with some simple warm up exercises.
You may think you know how to do this one already, but there are a few tricks for making sure you maximise muscle building without injury.
It is probably the single most important movement to perfect, because so many other exercises stem from it…
How to do Press-Ups Correctly
Lie on your stomach.
Place your hands on either side of you as if you were going to push off to stand up.
Your hands should naturally be just below the shoulder line, next to your chest, with your fingers facing forwards and slightly spread apart.
Tuck in your toes and push yourself up by extending your arms, making sure that your spine stays straight. Your hips, back and shoulders should be in line in the plank position.
If you are a beginner you may want to start off doing push ups from a kneeling position. Even so, your hips and spine still stay in alignment.
Now slowly bend your arms, dropping your body towards the floor, until your elbows are at 90 degree angles. It is essential not to flare your elbows outwards.
To get maximum effect out of your push ups make sure the drop or descent is slow and controlled.
You can speed it up as you get stronger, but it must be controlled.
Too many people focus only on the extension and allow themselves to fall into the descent.
Your chest should not touch the ground at any stage during push ups.
It’s better to do 15 solid, controlled reps than 30 sloppy ones.
Start with 10 reps and work your way up to around 50 as time progresses.
…Using the kitchen table!
Remembering the correct form from before, we’re now going to apply the technique to an angled position in order to hit the upper chest.
Grip the edge of your table or counter, with your fingers on top of the surface and thumbs below.
Straighten your arms and then adjust your feet so that your weight is leaning into your arms.
Keeping your spine straight and your shoulders in line with your hips, bend your arms until your chest is just off the counter.
Do between 15 and 50 reps.
You will likely find these easier than regular press-ups.
Knee to Elbow Push-Ups
From your traditional press-up/plank position, start as if you are going to do a regular push-up.
As you descend, look towards your right and bring your right knee up towards your right elbow.
On the next rep, repeat the same on your left side.
Start with 5 reps per side, working your way towards about 20.
This will work out your chest muscles, your arms and also your core.
Yeah, more push-ups…
I make no apologies for this:
They’re just so damn good for home chest exercises without the use of weights.
Get into the traditional push-up position, you should be used to this by now!
Move your hands in underneath the middle of your chest so that your forefingers and thumbs touch to create a diamond shape.
Complete the push-up focusing more on the descent than the push back up.
Diamond push-ups focus on your lower chest and triceps.
You might struggle with this one!
Aim for 5-10 reps and complete multiple sets, but don’t worry if even this seems a challenge at first.
You will need a sturdy kitchen chair or other piece of furniture at about sitting height.
Take GREAT care when doing this.
Alternatively, you may want to invest a small bit of money into a home dip station (available here) for a safer and more effective workout.
Taking a momentary break from press-ups, this exercise works your triceps primarily, along with the lower and side parts of your chest. The closer your hands are together, and the more upright you are, the more it focuses on your triceps rather than your chest.
Place your hands on the equipment that you’re using.
Now, lift your legs and bend your knees so that your weight is in your arms, arms extended.
Keeping your spine straight, drop your bottom towards the floor, bending your elbows to 90 degrees.
Use your chest muscles to push yourself back up. Try to keep your chest open, pushing your shoulders slightly back rather than forwards.
…Also known as one legged push-ups.
Assume the traditional push up position, but before you descend, lift one foot and let your leg hover above the ground without touching it.
Complete your push ups, alternating legs. You can also put more pressure on your chest by placing your legs wider.
You will be surprised how much more pressure pirate push ups put on your chest than regular ones.
This one is self-explanatory.
The further apart your hands are, the more pressure is taken from your arms and put into your chest.
They are substantially more difficult than regular press-ups.
If you suffer from lower back pain, you may want to avoid these.
Another timeless classic that you will know from watching old army movies is the chin up.
If you have a suitable door frame or ceiling beam that can hold your weight, use it.
Alternatively, a more suitable idea may be to purchase a portable pull-up bar (available here).
Grab hold of the bar with an over hand grip (fingers facing away from you) and pull yourself up with your arms until your chin is level with your hands.
You will probably struggle with this when you first start.
Chin-ups will work your back, arms, chest, shoulders — even your abs! This is why they can be hard to manage.
To start with, your target should be just a couple of pull-ups with correct form.
Correct form means no ‘kipping’ — the process of swinging the legs to give yourself an unfair advantage.
Try to build up to completing ten pull-ups in a row within a month.
One Handed Box Push-Ups
Okay, we’re getting a little more advanced now.
You can use a solid box, or the bottom step of the staircase, for this one.
Place the box above your head (on the floor) and assume the traditional push up position.
You are going to do a one handed push up, but instead of completely removing the other hand you will rest it on the box or step to help you balance.
Over time your support hand should give more balance rather than muscular support.
When you no longer need the box, you can place the other hand behind your back.
Hand Stand Push-Ups
It is what it sounds like…and it’s as tough as it sounds too.
You will need a small section of clear wall space (unless you are accustomed to standing on your hands for long periods)
Place your hands about a foot from the wall and kick up into a hand stand. Use the wall to help you balance.
Slowly bend your arms at the elbows and then push back up again.
To get back upright you can either bend at your waist and put your feet down or gently ease into a head stand.
Please note that this is not a beginner exercise.
Inversions should always be done very carefully to avoid falls and neck injuries.
This exercise will work your upper chest and shoulders primarily.
In the plank position decline about half as far as you would for a regular push up, and then hop your hands outwards so that they are wider than normal.
Remember to catch yourself before you hit the floor!
Decline again and hop back to the start position on the ascent back up to the top.
That makes one rep.
Do ten reps.
Saving the best for last, these push ups are only for more advanced or stronger exercisers.
Instead of slowing down for maximum benefit, you want to descend normally and then add an explosive boost to your pop back up, slapping your chest as you come up and putting your hands back on the floor for the next pop.
Please don’t land on your face.
Do as many as you dare.