Want to create a strong and powerful chest, but don’t have the weights? Or maybe you prefer a good old-fashioned bodyweight workout? Well, you need to check out our top exercises for a truly challenging calisthenics chest workout.
Whether you’re working out at home and don’t have any weights about, or you’re starting out your journey with bodyweight workouts, you have to have a strong calisthenics chest workout in your back pocket.
You might be surprised to hear, you can reap some truly amazing results with these calisthenic exercises for the chest. You don’t need weights to feel an amazing burn and see genuine improvement week-on-week.
So, if you’re ready to feel the burn, check out our top 9 exercises for an amazing calisthenics chest workout.
Quick note: some of these movements do require gym rings, but you can usually pick some up for around $25 on Amazon.com, like the ones we’ve linked to here, then you can invest in a door strap, which means you can use them pretty much anywhere:
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Calisthenics Chest Workout – 9 Amazing Exercises
Let’s start with the basics shall we. While it might not seem like a particularly challenging when you say push ups, it’s pretty much the foundation to the rest of this calisthenics chest workout.
If you can do a push up all the way through, and we mean keeping a completely tight core without dipping the hips or knees at all, and moving from the top position to chest on the floor and back up again, then you’ll definitely be working your chest hard.
If you can’t do a push up yet, don’t drop to your knees. Keep your body in a straight line and start by going as far as you can without breaking that tight core, then push back up. Keep doing that and going further down until you’ve got a full press up.
[Related Article: How to do a Push Up]
Incline Push Ups
If you haven’t quite mastered the push up, then grab a box, a sturdy chair or even a set of steps and put your hands higher up. Keeping the body taught, do a push up from top position, chest to the step/box/sturdy chair and push up again.
This takes some of the weight out of the movement and into your feet, so you’re lifting less with each movement. As you progress and it starts to feel easier, go down a step until you’re getting closer to that normal push up position where your hands are on the floor.
These movements are the foundation and shouldn’t be missed. Once you’ve mastered this, you’re pretty much ready to move on to the other exercises we’ve got lined up for you in this killer calisthenics chest workout.
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Ring push ups
As we mentioned above, a set of rings can be a brilliant way to take your calisthenics journey to the next level.
With a ring push up, you’re bringing the rings down to within a couple of inches from the floor. From there, you hold a ring in each hand and perform your usual push up.
One thing you’ll notice with this calisthenics chest exercise, is you’ll be working the muscles in your arms, shoulders, core and chest more as you attempt to stabilize the rings throughout the movement.
What’s more, because you’re just slightly off the ground, you may find that you can go just slightly further down at the bottom of your press up. We wouldn’t recommend trying to touch the floor as this will overextend the shoulders and could cause injury. But, you might go just that little bit further if you’re feeling strong enough, which will work new muscles in a brand new way!
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Decline push ups
Once you’re feeling really strong in your press ups, it’s time to up the ante with a decline press up. The exact opposite of an incline press up, with this calisthenics chest exercise, you’ll be putting your feet on that step or box to put more weight through your chest, making the press up harder, more challenging and building more strength in the arms, shoulders and chest.
It will also put more of an emphasis on the upper chest muscles, working that particular area in a more intensive way.
Close push ups
Also known as a diamond press up, in this movement you bring your hands close together under your chest so your thumbs and forefingers form a diamond shape. From here, perform a full press up.
This calisthenics exercises for the chest puts more of a focus on your triceps, but also on the outer muscles in your chest. You’ll definitely feel this in the area around your armpit and down the side of your upper body too!
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Clap push ups
Not only does this look very impressive, it also adds an explosive edge to your regular push up.
Brace your core and be sure to keep that whole body straight throughout. Bring your chest to the floor as if you’re doing a normal press up, but now push up hard and fast in an explosive movement, so your hands come off the floor. When you have enough ‘air’ clap your hands together quickly, then place your hands back on the floor in your press up position to prep for another rep. Be sure not to land with extended arms, land softly with a slight bend so you can take the landing softly.
While this works the same chest muscles as your normal press ups, it really increases the intensity, that the muscles experience, working them in a new and more powerful way.
Weighted push ups
For this, you can do your usual press up in a variety of ways. Grab a resistance band and place each end under each hand so the band is across your back, or if you have a good friend nearby, safely balance a barbell weight across your upper back.
Once these bits of kit are in place, you can start your movement and perform your usual press up. If the weight is too much and you can’t get your chest all the way to the floor, then do what we did in the first movement and go as low as you can, keeping your body tight and flat throughout.
If you are using a barbell weight, do not place it on the lower back as this could cause injury. Use the upper back only and only continue if you feel comfortable and safe to do so. Increase the weight gradually as you get stronger.
Wide push ups
For this movement, we’ll be taking a wider hand position than your usual push up. This recruits muscles in a different way, allowing you to build strength in different areas throughout your calisthenics chest workout.
The wide press up will as you to put your hands just outside if your shoulders, meaning your hands are further apart and you’re putting even more pressure on the chest muscles, rather than through the arms.
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Pause Push ups
And finally, by adding a little pause to your push up half way through the movement, you’ll up the heat on your movements through a static hold.
By pausing the movement in a position of tension and holding it there, you’re putting strain through all your muscles, making them work hard to hold that stressful position. It’s a great way to end a calisthenics chest workout, as it pushes those muscle fibers to their limits, ensuring you’ve done a really successful session.
The final word on Calisthenics Chest Workouts
Add these key calisthenic chest exercises to your upper body routine and you’ll soon feel your strength increasing. You may be thinking that, without weight, you’re not going to get the same results.
However, try adding some of these movements to your calisthenics chest workout and you’ll be amazed at how challenging they can feel during the workout, and results you’ll see after!
Give them a go and let us know how you get on in the comments below!