Body-weight chest workouts enable you to tone and strengthen your chest or pecs without using dumbbells, barbells or resistance machines. Set your own pace with a gentle body-weight chest workout for beginners before moving onto more advanced workouts. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Start your body-weight chest workout by warming up. Warmed-up muscles perform more efficiently and are less prone to injury. Commence by elevating your heart rate and increasing your blood flow by jumping rope or jogging on the spot for three to five minutes. Next, do some dynamic stretches for your shoulders and chest: stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and swing your arms forward in a big circle for about 30 seconds, then reverse the motion.
If you are a beginner or uncertain of your ability to do harder exercises, start your body-weight chest workout program with door-frame pushups. Place your hands on either side of the frame of an open door. Shift your legs backward approximately two shoulder-widths so you are leaning on the door-frame with your weight supported on your arms and toes. Keep your body straight with the back of your head in line with your butt and heels. Maintain your body position and drop forward in a controlled fashion with your elbows pointing backward, until your head pokes through the door frame. Take care not to overextend your shoulder joints. Stop when you feel a full stretch in your chest before pushing back to your starting position. Repeat until your muscles fatigue.
Pushups work your chest, shoulders and triceps and should be an integral part your body-weight chest workout. Use pushup handles to increase your range of motion. Grasp two pushup handles placed slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and place your feet on a slightly elevated platform. Brace your core to keep your back straight, and lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. The handles allow a full stretch of your chest muscles, activation of more muscle fibers and increase intensity. Push up to your starting position and repeat until you achieve muscle fatigue. To target your upper chest, use a higher platform so your body is tilted forward with your feet higher than your head.
Strength coach Charles Poliquin recommends the bar-dip as an exercise for anyone who wants to be strong. This body-weight exercise gives you an intense chest workout and also engages your shoulders and triceps. Mount a dip station and support your weight on the parallel bars with straight arms. Cross your ankles and tilt your body forward. To avoid injury, lower your body in a controlled fashion by bending your elbows outward. Stop when your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then push up to your starting position. If you find dips difficult to do, place your feet on a bench and use your legs to assist your upward motion. If you prefer to work out at home, do dips between two sturdy chairs and use your legs to aid you if you find the exercise difficult. Do 10 to 15 repetitions or until you are fatigued.
Ring-dips using gymnastic-type rings give you a super-intense body-weight chest workout. Ring-dips, like bar-dips, engage your chest, shoulders and triceps, and the instability of the rings forces the engaged muscles to work doubly hard. To do ring-dips, climb up and grasp a pair of rings. Balance your weight on straight arms, tilt your body forward and cross your ankles. Engage your core to stabilize your body, then lower your body in a controlled fashion by bending your elbows backward until your upper arms are roughly parallel to the floor. Push up to straighten your arms, then repeat the movement until you are fatigued.
Finish your workout with some cool-down stretches. To stretch your chest, stand and place your fist in the small of your back. Pull your shoulders and shoulder blades back, and thrust out your chest. Hold the position for a slow count of 10, then relax and repeat three to five times. To stretch your triceps, hold your arms parallel to the floor in front of you. Bend your arms and clasp your right elbow with your left hand, and your left elbow with your right hand. Pull your arms above and behind your head as far as you can without straining. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders and triceps. Hold the position for a slow count of 10. Relax and repeat three to five times.