At Home Chest Exercises | Without Weights

May 26, 2016

Bodyweight Chest Exercises | Best Pushup Variations


Please, tell us that your chest workouts aren’t just rolling to the gym on National Chest Day…err Monday and hitting up bench press, incline dumbbell presses, then flyes!

Don’t get us wrong, we love presses and flyes, but come on, switch it up a little and give your training an infusion of new and exciting chest exercises.

If your chest workout has hit a plateau – or you’re looking for the best pushups to do at home or on the road – then it is time to shake things up.

It’s time to introduce some new stimuli into your workouts.

Additionally, these moves will help develop the shoulders, triceps, abs and back muscles when done properly!

Anatomy of Pectoralis Muscle
Anatomy of Pectoralis Muscle

Here are a few incredible bodyweight chest exercises to help give you those powerful pecs you’ve been yearning for.


The Pushup Hold – The Plateau Buster!


This very simple, yet brutally challenging movement can bust you right out of a bench press plateau!

There are two versions; one for a traditional or strength chest workout and one for speed day.


Version #1 – Standard Pushup Hold


Get into a pushup position with your hands around the same grip as your bench, however ultra-wide grip is not recommended in order to protect the shoulders. Shoulder width or slightly wider will be good for most.

Keeping the elbows at 45 degrees from body or closer, lower yourself until you are a few inches from the floor.

Now hold it as long as you can!

Keep your abs and glutes tight, but make sure you breathe.

The goal is to get to 60 seconds and then still be able to perform a pushup.

It takes most people a few workouts to get even close to 60 seconds while maintaining proper pushup alignment so don’t worry if you can’t get to 60 seconds on your first try.

There’s even a few top strength coaches who won’t let their athletes touch a bench press until they can do this for 60 seconds!

Can you do it? There’s only one way to find out.

Anywhere from 1-4 sets of the standard pushup hold per workout works well for most.


Version #2 – The Explosive Pushup Hold


This version is not meant to go to failure or even close to 60 seconds.

Rather, we want to use this awesome plyometric chest exercise to improve your explosive power in the bottom of your bench and other pressing movements.

Get into a standard pushup position and lower yourself a few inches from the ground, just as you did in the standard version above.

In a perfect world, you’ll have a training partner who can clap once you’ve held the pushup for 3 seconds. Once you hear the clap you’ll explode up out of the bottom position hold as fast as you can.

If you  generate enough force your hands will come off the ground!

Now, immediately return to the bottom position in the pushup hold and repeat for sets of 3 reps.

This is something where you can experiment with holding for a few more seconds or doing a few more reps. However, we caution against doing too many reps…

If you speed begins to decline more than 10-15%, then it’s time to stop that set.

You’re going to need that explosive power coming out of the hole on your next max effort bench day and you want to make sure you’re teaching your body to move fast!

There’s a time to exhaust a muscle group and there’s a time to teach it to move a certain way. In this case, we are going for the latter.

The cool thing about both of these pushup hold versions is you can target the exact sticking point that’s causing you to stall out on the bench and hold the position there.

For example, maybe two inches off the ground might be where you need the most work. Pay attention to your chest workouts and go from there.

3-5 sets of 3-4 reps a good starting point for this exercise. Be sure to allow sufficient rest between sets in order to maintain proper speed.


Towel Pushup/Fly Hybrid


This one will really put your pec game on 100.

This is an incredibly efficient exercise as you are getting a press and fly movement in one.

You can do this at the gym, at home or in your hotel room while traveling.

Grab two towels and get into a standard pushup position.

As you lower yourself down, let your hands slide away from each other a few inches.

Now, when you perform the pushup, slide your hands together. You’ve just done a pushup and a fly together!

Feel free to really push yourself on this chest exercise and rep out!

To make it even more difficult, throw on a weighted vest or plate.

3-4 sets should do the trick!

National Chest Day just got a whole lot cooler with these badass bodyweight chest exercises!

Big shoutout to AJ Williams for showing us how its done.

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article.  Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.

The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.

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