One of the best ways to strengthen the pectoral muscles is through a calisthenics chest workout. This is a really desirable look, especially on men, but overall, it can improve overall strength for both men and women.
Many people don’t think you can build muscle without using weights, but you absolutely can, thanks to calisthenics.
If you regularly go to the gym, you might notice that you see the same people bench pressing day after day. The idea is that doing so will improve overall chest strength. This isn’t entirely wrong in theory.
However, it is all too common that those who resort to bench pressing for chest strength do so with poor form. They also may only be training their chest with weights, hence the bench press. Combine those two things, and what you get is one of the leading causes of elbow and shoulder injuries.
Those injuries won’t show themselves right away in many cases. Instead, it will take a long time of consistently bench pressing or working on one singular exercise to strengthen the chest, along with a poor form, to see the signs of injury. By then, the injury could actually be quite severe.
There is hope if you are looking to build your chest strength, and that hope does not involve bench pressing. In fact, you can strengthen your pectoral muscles with bodyweight exercise alone.
A calisthenics chest workout could give you the physique you want with a far less chance of injury. In addition, you can do this type of exercise no matter what your experience level is. It is completely adaptable to your needs.
Getting Started: The Warmup
It doesn’t matter if you are going to be using only your body weight for resistance; you absolutely need to warm up before a calisthenics chest workout. Take it seriously, as the importance of a great warmup cannot be overstated here.
You need only to spend about five to 10 minutes on warmups, but the benefits can be huge. You can alternate between a few different exercises to get your blood flowing and your body ready to work.
Try a circuit of broomstick shoulder dislocations, push-ups, band pull-aparts, and arm circles. Once you start feeling good, you can move into the workout below.
Calisthenics Chest Workout: The Top Three Exercises
The three exercises included here are completely adaptable and adjustable. That is one reason why they were selected. If you are a beginner, you simply start out slower on a modified version. If you have some experience, the options below will work for you.
If you improve enough to make these even more difficult, it is pretty easy to do so. These three exercises will get your pectoral muscles in a beach-ready condition in no time.
1. Band Push-Ups
This is an intermediate exercise, and it serves a dual purpose, as well. If you tell anyone that you aren’t interested in bench-pressing, you will also get a look that suggests you are crazy. This is because it is assumed that you can’t simulate the same load you would get with a bench-press using bodyweight alone.
However, you can absolutely get there if you have a nice set of resistance bands at your disposal. Pair those bands with your body weight, and you’ve got a great pushup to help with the toning and strengthening of your chest muscles.
- To begin, just get into a regular push-up position. Have resistance band around your back so that it sits directly over the middle part of the shoulder blades.
- Then, take both ends of the bands and put them under your hands, which should already be in a push-up position.
- Next, do push-ups as you normally would. You can modify this pretty easily. Just place the band somewhere else depending on the challenge you want. You can put it under your chest or over your waist, for example.
One way that you see others in the gym try to increase weight while doing push-ups is to put a weight on their back. That may get you the same effect, truthfully, but it is far more dangerous.
By using bands, you stand no chance of being hit in the head by a huge weight. You are going to get the same results with the bands, as well, and you can bring them with you anywhere.
2. Ring Fly
This is a pretty advanced exercise, and if you aren’t capable of doing it yet, you can always just slowly progress up to it. This is an incredible way to replicate weighted flies.
In fact, this move is also considered better since you have additional freedom built into the exercise. The additional movement means you have to stabilize your muscles, and even core, more.
- To do this exercise, you need either a TRX system or gymnastics rings. You’ll also need something from which you can hang either one of those things.
- Start by getting into a regular push-up position on the rings. Rather than doing a regular push-up, you want to spread out your arms to the side. You want them to look just like they would if you were doing a fly.
- Then, use your pectoral muscles to push yourself back to the starting position. If this proves too difficult at first, the modification is to start doing this move while in a modified push-up position. Then, you can progress to the full movement without modification.
To make this exercise harder if you get even more advanced, you can elevate your feet. Put them on a bench or box, and that will increase the difficulty some more.
There is also the option to keep the exercise the same but add in a little pause at the bottom of the pushup so that you’re holding the position for a few seconds.
3. Chest Dips
Everyone knows the triceps dip; it is a simple exercise that is great at isolating the triceps if performed properly. Not nearly as many people are familiar with the chest dip, though, but it is just as great at toning up the pectoral muscles.
Many people who do the triceps dip improperly are actually already doing a chest dip. The two exercises are essentially the same, except with the chest dip, you hold your torso at an angle a bit forward over your feet. This changes the work from your triceps to your chest.
The triceps dip would have you moving straight up and down, while the chest dip has you angled. That slight change makes all the difference.
If you want to make the move more difficult, you can use a weight belt. You could also just hold your body steady when you get to the bottom.
Calisthenics Chest Workout: For Beginners
If the above workout routine seems entirely too challenging for you, don’t fret. We have a beginner workout available, as well.
Calisthenics is excellent for your body, and we don’t want to turn you off to getting started just because you think you can’t do the exercises. You can, but perhaps you have to start off the exercises with a bit of modification.
If you are new to this type of workout, try the following exercises as a starting point:
1. Assisted Chest Dip
This is the exact same exercise that was highlighted above, except you can perform it on a machine at the gym. It will add in some weight to help lift you up if you can’t push yourself up just yet.
The machine is at every gym, but if for some reason, yours doesn’t have one, you can also use resistance bands. Just tie them to the handles where you put your hands and then bend your knees and put the band under your ankles. This will help push you up a bit.
If you do choose to use bands, make sure the ones you have are of good quality and don’t run the risk of snapping on you.
2. Push-up (Modified)
Most people are familiar with this push-up modification. In this modification, you do the push-up the exact same way, but you keep your knees on the ground. This makes the movement overall easier since you aren’t pushing as much weight up.
A lot of people find that they are in between a modified push-up and a regular one. This is pretty common. If it applies to you, you can make a modified push-up more difficult by holding the bottom position for a couple of seconds.
Continue doing modified push-ups, and you should progress to a standard one really quickly. The key here, really, is to be consistent.
3. Push-Up Flys (Modified)
Start by getting into the modified push-up position. Then, you need to make a fly movement. You can do so by angling yourself to one side. You can emphasize the movement like you would if you were making a fly movement. Then, alternate between your arms.
If this workout proves too easy for you, you can choose to place your feet on the ground as if you were performing a standard push-up instead of a modified one.
Those are the two versions of a calisthenics chest workout. There is no shame in starting with the beginner workout and moving toward the more intermediate one. Just get started, and you’ll be building chest muscles without weights.