When it comes to chest training, you will find that there are quite a few highly effective exercises to choose from, but which ones are optimal for chest growth ? In this article you will find a list of the best chest exercises at home, with limited material.
To build muscle mass and strength you just need to apply the same, basic bodybuilding principles and approaches to a bodyweight based routine, suitable for performing from the comfort of your own home, garden, or pretty much anywhere where you may a floor and/ or a tree branch or something as such.
Add these exercises to your own routine and with dedication and patience you can build a very impressive physique. It is a total misconception that you need to be tied to a gym to build muscle. We will start with a focus on the main muscle building compound exercises, and include an isolation movement to perform towards the end of your routine.
Table of Contents
We can observe two principle regions on the chest are:
- The upper/clavicular head, which attaches on the clavicle
- The lower/sternal head, which attaches upon the sternum sternum
It is important to note in which directions the fibers run to figure out the best chest training approach:
- The upper fibers run downwards
- The mid fibers run straight across ( transversely )
- The lower fibers run upwards
The pectoralis major has four actions which are primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint. The first action is flexion of the humerus, as in throwing a ball underhand, and in lifting a child.
Secondly, it adducts the humerus, as when flapping the arms. Thirdly, it rotates the humerus medially, as occurs when arm-wrestling. Fourthly the pectoralis major is also responsible for keeping the arm attached to the trunk of the body¹.
Scientific literature states that chest size is directly related to strength.
Therefore we will primordially focus on increasing one’s strength through multi-joint compound exercises. Some of the movements that follow will be of a closed kinetic chain nature, and others, open kinetic chain.
Before attempting this routine or any other chest building routine, remember to stretch, lubricate your joints, and perform an all around warm up accordingly.
Use a band to perform pull aparts and other likewise exercises to activate your rotator cuffs, and for extra safety when you have time, you can treat your shoulders well by including some tension relieving foam and lacrosse ball rolls across the sensitive parts that need to be released.
Before you read on, know that all of these exercises can be performed without any material, but I strongly recommend that you get yourself a pair of rings, if you don’t already own any.
They are a formidable tool which can take you very far in terms of bodyweight training, and more importantly; you can carry them around easily and use them to perform a ridiculous amount of exercises, almost anywhere.
All you need is something to anchor them to, such as a tree branch, a football cage, a stairway railing, and more.
Push ups are a rudimentary but extremely effective chest, tricep, and even to some degree, shoulder builder. Perform these at the start of your routine.
Changing the angle of your arms, your hands, and your body, are ways of putting further emphasis on certain muscular regions over others. For optimal chest development, perform wide push ups with an inclination and a pair of parallettes if you have access to some ( the extra range of motion will benefit you greatly ).
To increase the difficulty of this movement, you have the following several options:
- Place your feet on a gradually more elevated surface
- Use parallettes to perform a deeper range of movement
- Do the push ups on rings
- Use a weight vest
Use all options at the same time for optimal chest development. Another way of adding difficulty to the movement is by using a harder progression that will bring you a greater challenge. I will go over one of the best progressions to the regular push up further down in this article.
Ring/parallel bar dips
Dips are the second closed kinetic chain exercise in this list. Along with the push ups, I strongly recommend doing this exercise, if you can. Dips are a powerful chest and tricep builder.
They will also target your front delt to some degree, like the push ups. If this is your first time doing this exercise, start with parallel bar dips. As you get strong enough to pull of several strong sets of ten repetitions or more, you should move on to gymnastics rings.
Gymnastics ring dips will recruit more muscle fibers due to the extra stability required to perform a dip, but they are not the only way of making this movement harder; here are some options:
- Weighted dips with a dip belt
- Weighted dips with a weight vest
- L-sit dips
- Augmenting the forward incline
Know that to perform a dip for optimal chest development, you should incline your torso forward, place your legs slightly forward, and have a medium to wide hand placement.
Rings archer push ups
Ring archer push ups are a very effective exercise for building both strength, and mass. These will also provide you with a burn and a rather satisfying pump, within one or two sets.
One should however never jump straight on to a floor or ring archer push up as it can be hard on your elbow and shoulders if they are not yet properly conditioned for the movement.
Get strong at the push ups and dips first, and when those become too easy for you, you can do this exercise. I would suggest that you start with doing them higher up, and slowly doing them close to the ground; this will prepare your shoulders and elbows.
To make this exercise harder, elevate your feet by placing them on a chair or something as such. You may also use a weight vest but working up to that will take you a very long time.
Ring chest flies
This is the final exercise on our list and, the only isolation exercise. This is because one should focus primarily on compound movement as they will build the most strength and size. Add an isolation exercise or two towards the end of your routine. This movement is the equivalent of the gym chest flies on a pulley machine. This can be a challenging movement at first, but it definitely deserves a spot in your best chest exercises at home workout routine. Place the rings higher up at first and lower them gradually as you get stronger.
best chest exercises at home – The workout
Now that we have gone over the different exercises you can perform to develop your chest, how would these look when integrated into one complete workout routine ?
Exercise 1: Push ups/archer push ups – 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Exercise 2: Dips – 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Exercise 3: Chest flies – 3 sets of 10 reps
Don’t forget to warm up properly, apply progressive overload to all of your movements and eat accordingly. Work these exercises into your routine, or do the workout as it is written. Be patient, and most important of all; consistent, and results will come. You can further add to your chest training by adding plyometric and isometric work to your routine.