It's not a lack of equipment or crappy genes that cause poor chest development. The real culprits? Poor positioning and poor mind-muscle connection.
Positioning is everything. With the wrong positioning, you'll have no muscle recruitment. Without recruitment, you'll have no adaptive response. Without an adaptive response, muscle growth can't occur.
So when trying the exercises below, pay close attention to your positioning. Learn to make your pecs do the work. Develop that mind-muscle connection and grow a stronger, bigger chest. Bonus: You can do them all without free weights or machines.
Isometric Medicine Ball Squeeze
This exercise creates an isometric contraction in your pecs. You can pair it with another chest exercise to maximize the effect, creating a compound set (pairing two exercises back-to-back that target the same muscle group). For example, a 10-15 second medball squeeze followed by 15-20 push-ups.
Here's how to do it:
- Lay on your back holding a medball with your arms up straight.
- Push your hands together and squeeze the ball as hard as you can for 10-15 seconds.
Medicine Ball Push-Up
You've probably done the diamond push-up before... and you might have experienced wrist pain. Medball push-ups are similar but they remove some of the stress on your wrists while retaining the benefits.
- Get into a push-up position with both hands on the ball.
- Do full-range push-ups with your chest hitting the ball every rep.
- Push through with your pecs, trying to squeeze your hands together.
Eccentric-Only Bodyweight Chest Flye
This variation absolutely destroys your pecs... and you're only doing half the movement!
- Using a couple of socks or small towels, get into a push-up position on a smooth surface.
- With your hands angled out to your sides and a slight elbow bend, slowly extend your arms out to the side and lower your chest to the floor.
- Squeeze your pecs and glutes while lowering yourself for a 3-5 second count.
Kneeling Bodyweight Chest Flye
Now add the concentric portion of the bodyweight chest flye. Do the same exact motion, but from the knees.
- Get on both knees and lower yourself by extending your arms out to the sides.
- When your arms are extended, push your hands through the floor and "pull" them in towards each other to bring yourself back up. Think of pushing yourself away from the floor.
- Squeeze the hell out of your pecs as you do this.
This is like the bodyweight equivalent of an incline bench press. The contraction you get in your pec minor (upper chest) is amazing. If you're looking to take it up a notch, add a resistance band.
- Get into a push-up position with your feet elevated on a couch or bench.
- Do push-ups, pushing through with your upper chest.
Tip: When your arms are extended at the top of the push-up, "drag" your hands in towards each other (without actually moving them) and squeeze your pecs for a 2-3 second count.
In and Out Slider Push-Up
You can do these one of two ways:
Move both of your arms during the push-up:
- Hold a couple of socks or small towels and get into a push-up position on a smooth surface.
- As you bend your arms to lower yourself, slide your hands out wide to the side.
- Press yourself back up, slide your hands back in, and squeeze your pecs hard.
- Get into the same starting push-up position.
- As you bend your arms to lower yourself, only slide one arm out wide to the side.
- Press yourself back up, slide your moving arm back in, and squeeze.