Here is the everyone’s favorite muscle(after the biceps), the Pectoralis major muscle, (Wikipedia), also called “pecs”. The purpose of this article is to educate the athletes, who just started calisthenics training, how to gain strength and muscle with this body weight chest exercises.
Body weight chest exercises:
- Normal push-up
- Diamond/close grip push-up
- Elevated push-ups
- Pike push-ups
- Dips and straight bar dips
You will not find exercises about your inner pecs or outer pecs in this article, there is nothing like inner pecs or outer pecs. In here you will find exercises to build up strength in your lower pecs and upper pecs.
If you are completely new and you don’t have a workout routine, you can start with this: The Best Calisthenics Exercises for Beginners and a Simple Routine.
If you want to build up more strength and muscle mass try to build up tension in your pecs while performing every one of those exercises, while you perform the push-up, the best technique to achieve this is to try to bring your arms together, but don’t move your hands. The purpose of the pecs as a muscle is to bring your arms together.
If you don’t understand this, please, ask me in the comment section and I will try to explain the part that you did not understand.
If you are really new to strength training it is ok if you can’t do one rep of this exercise, start small. You can build up the strength by performing inclined push-ups, wall push-ups and knee push-ups. I believe that you need to build up core strength to perform it, and that is why I advise you to add the knee push-up after inclined push-ups or wall push-ups.
You can do the inclined push-ups on stairs and advance to the lower step when you feel strong and confident enough to do it.
Here is how to perform a push-up:
- Put your hands shoulder width apart, in front of your shoulders.
- Stand only on your hands and toes, keep your body straight through the entire exercise.
- Keep your elbows close to the body through the exercise.
- Lower your body by bending your elbows, inhale while you are lowering.
- Keep your head in a neutral position.
- Push off the ground and exhale at the top
Also called close grip push-ups. The difference with the normal push-up is with this exercise there is more emphasize on your triceps muscles.
Here is how to perform a push-up:
- Form a diamond with your hands.
- Get into a push-up position.
- Remember to keep your body straight, and breath!
- Start lowering your body by bending your elbows, inhale while descending.
- Push off the ground and remember to build tension in your pecs.
This is the next step after you reach the 15 reps max when you perform normal push-ups or diamond push-up. You can do this by putting your legs on a bench or on the first/second step of the stairs. By doing that you put more leverage on your arms, thus making it harder to perform than the push-up and diamond push-up.
If you are up for a challenge try to perform an elevated diamond push-up.
Here is how to perform:
- Put one leg first on the bench, put your hands on the ground and then put your other leg on the bench.
- Try to put your hands under your shoulders, use the grip that you like.
- Start lowering your body by keeping your body straight, inhale while lowering.
- Push off the ground and remember to build up tension in your pecs, exhale at the top.
Pike press push-ups work mostly your shoulder muscles and your upper pecs muscles. And it is harder to perform than the other exercises. The higher your butt goes in your pike stand the more you focus on your shoulder muscles, so don’t overdo the pike stand.
Here is how to perform a pike push-up:
- Get into pike stand, and try to keep this form through the exercise.
- Start lowering your body, inhale while you are lowering, keep your elbows close to your body.
- Push off the ground and exhale at the top.
Let’s get to the bars, shall we…
If it is a rainy day and you don’t have dips bars at home, you can perform the dips on two chairs, try to perform it with your feet on the floor first, just to make sure you will not fall and then start doing them.
Again, remember to build up tension in your pecs!
Here is how to perform dips:
- Grab the parallel bars and make sure your hands are parallel to each other. Jump off the ground.
- Start lowering your body until you reach 90-degree angle in your elbows, inhale while lowering.
- Push off the parallels and exhale at the top.
- Remember to keep your elbows over your hands.
Straight bar dips
Those are harder to perform than the normal dips. I advise you to perform them on a lower bar(safety first). And again the same goes with this exercise too, remember to build tension in your pecs, if you are doing it right you will feel the pump that all the bodybuilders are talking about in your pecs.
Here is how to perform the straight bar dips:
- Get on top of the bar and make sure your hands are under your shoulders(the closer your grip, the harder it is to perform).
- Start lowering yourself towards the bar until you touch the bar with your abs, chest or as low as you can before you fall off the bar(HOLD TIGHT!). The purpose of this is to increase the range of motion. So start small, by just touching it with your abs, inhale while lowering.
- Push off the bar and exhale at the top.
Before performing any of the exercises please read my disclaimer page!
If you don’t have a park nearby or it is really rainy in your area, you should check out the most common calisthenics equipment, click here!
Please fill in your questions bellow in the comment section. How low can go on the straight bar dips?