The Eight Best Bodyweight Exercises for the Chest

The Eight Best Bodyweight Exercises for the Chest

Most guys can’t imagine a chest workout that doesn’t include a bench and a set of dumbbells or kettlebells. A bodyweight chest workout? Please. There are only so many pushups you can do.

But in a time-crunched, mobile world – pandemic or no pandemic – it’s important to have an effective go-to workout that’s portable and can be done with little or no equipment. That way you can train wherever, whenever. Studies suggest it’s possible to get results without investing in equipment or a gym membership, just your body weight.

8 Bodyweight Chest Exercises

This 8-exercise, two-set circuit will challenge your chest with only your body as resistance. We’ll alternate pushing and pulling movements so you keep moving without rest, providing an aerobic component to your training as well.


What it does: This familiar compound yoga move improves flexibility to the lumbar and cervical spine but it also opens up the chest, which is especially important if you’re training after a long day of sitting.

How to do it: Start on all fours with hands beneath your shoulders and knees on the ground. Inhale, dropping your chest as you push your hips and shoulder blades back into cow position. Lift your chin and chest and gaze forward. For cat, exhale as you draw your belly button to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling like a cat.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.


What it does: You use your chest, along with your triceps and biceps, to lift your entire body weight.

How to do it: Position yourself above and between parallel bars, grabbing them with an overhand grip. Cross your ankles behind you. Lower yourself slowly and push back up in a controlled manner. Bodyweight workouts tend to be done without equipment or at least outside the gym. So, this can be performed on steps, a stable chair, or even the floor.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

90/90 Stretch

What it does: Like Cat/Cow, this move opens up the chest but more from a rotational standpoint. It serves as an effective warm-up for this or any other chest workout.

How to do it: Lie on the ground on your left side with legs tucked into the torso at a 90-degree angle. Keep both arms straight parallel to your knees. Keeping the knees together and on the ground, rotate your chest and right arm to the right, putting your back on the ground. Hold for two seconds and return to starting position.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps to each side.


What it does: This combines two effective chest-blasting, core-strengthening moves in one.

How to do it: Begin in a forearm plank position. Push from your triceps, placing your right hand on the ground and then your left hand, gradually rising to pushup position. Return to the forearm plank by placing your right forearm down and then your left.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Straight Leg Lowering

What it does: This hamstring stretch also challenges the muscles of the chest and torso.

How to do it: Lie flat on your back with arms at your sides and legs straight up above your hips. Keeping one leg straight, slowly lower the other to just above the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat. The key is to keep toes pointed toward your shins and back flat on the floor. Do 10 per side.

How many? 2 sets of 10 per side with 30 seconds rest between sets.

Bodyweight Chest Push Up3-Way Pushups

What it does: By doing three sets of 10 pushups in three different positions consecutively, we’re ramping up this workout quickly while challenging our chest and shoulders from three angles.

How to do it: Do 10 traditional pushups (hands directly below the shoulders) followed by 10 “diamond” pushups (index fingers and triceps touching), followed by 10 wide-grip pushups (hands wider than the shoulders)

How many? 10 reps of each.


What it does: This promotes overall core stability, but your chest and biceps are keeping you in the proper position.

How to do it: Lie in a prone pushup position with hands on the floor, elbows under shoulders and bent 90 degrees. Push up off the elbows, tucking your chin so your head is in line with your body. Keep head in line with spine and belly button drawn in. Hold for one minute.

How many? 2 sets of 60 seconds with 60 seconds rest between sets.


What it does: It’s a full-body push-up-like exercise that gives you all the benefits of pushups while also challenging your cardiovascular system and ratcheting up the intensity of your workout, which is especially important when you only have 15 minutes.

How to do it: From a standing position, squat, place your hands on the ground, and “jump” your feet out into a push-up position. Perform a pushup and then jump your feet to your hands. Then jump as high as you can, throwing your hands over your head.

How many? 2 sets of 10 reps.

Pete Williams is a NASM-CPT and the author or co-author of several fitness books, including Core Performance and Every Day is Game Day. His work has appeared in publications such as Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, and USA Today.

Pete Williams is a NASM-CPT and the author or co-author of several fitness books, including Core Performance and Every Day is Game Day. His work has appeared in multiple publications such as Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, and USA Today.