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Centr Team

Build your chest at home with body weight, bands or dumbbells

Centr Team

You want to build your chest for a strong and sculpted upper body, but you can’t get to the gym. Can a home workout for your chest get the same results? Don’t worry, Chris Hemsworth’s team of fitness experts on Centr has got you covered!

You don’t need a barbell and bench, or a fully kitted-out home gym to work your chest. All of these home chest exercises use minimal or no equipment.

What muscles make up the chest?

At its most basic, the chest is the part of your body between your neck and stomach. In workout and muscle-building terms, we’re talking about your pectoral region – or pecs. As well as protecting all the important organs underneath this region, the pectoral muscles (pectoralis major and minor) are essential to functional arm and shoulder movement.

The benefits of a strong chest

We all appreciate the aesthetics of sculpted pecs sitting atop six-pack abs, but the benefits don’t end there. Building up your chest strength will enhance any function that requires pushing, swinging, throwing, carrying or picking things up. A strong chest in combination with a strong back (it’s all about balance) will also improve posture, helping you to stand tall.

Do women need to build their chests?

Chest exercises for women are the same as for men. All the benefits that apply to men strengthening their chests apply to women, too! Whether you’re picking up boxes to move house, carrying a heavy work bag, pushing a stroller, swinging a tennis racquet or throwing a basketball, your chest comes into play.

When it comes to aesthetics, some women are concerned that working their chest will result in an incredibly muscular upper body. But the vast majority of women won’t develop bulging pecs without huge amounts of commitment and energy.

Let’s take a look at how to build your chest at home. Centr strength training experts Luke Zocchi, Bobby Holland Hanton and Ashley Joi will demonstrate the moves – you just need to follow along.

The best bodyweight chest exercises

Looking for exercises for your chest with no equipment? You’ve come to the right place! Bodyweight exercises use your own body as resistance, so you can start strengthening your chest from the comfort of your own home.

How to do a classic push-up
For a bodyweight chest and tricep workout at home, you can’t go past this classic move. You can also do push-ups on your knees. Here's how to do it:

  • Place your hands shoulder-width apart, lined up directly under your shoulders.

  • Extend your legs behind you, propping on your toes with feet close together.

  • Push your shoulder blades back and make sure your elbows are not flared out to the side.

  • Activate your core.

  • Keep your head neutral (that means in line with your spine!)

  • Lower your chest toward the ground, then push back up until your arms are fully extended to complete a rep. (You don’t need to lower your body all the way to the floor – imagine a can of drink under your chest and only go that far.)


How to do a wide push-up
The wide or wide-grip push-up variation shifts the emphasis to work your outer chest. The wider hand placement will also make it more challenging to produce force as you lower and raise your body. Take a look at how to do one:

  • Place your hands on the floor, wider than shoulder-width apart and come up onto your toes.

  • If you’re still building up strength, you can also do the push-ups on your knees, as Ashley demonstrates here.

  • Keep your core tight and your neck in a neutral position while you bend through the elbows to lower your body toward the ground then push back up.


How to do a diamond push-up
Looking for an advanced chest and tricep workout at home? This push-up variation shifts the emphasis to your triceps and pectoralis minor (the top, outer side of your pecs), while also upping the intensity to give you a challenge without gym access. Here’s how to perform one correctly:

  • Start in a classic push-up position, making sure your ankles are touching and your back is straight.

  • Bring your hands together on the floor so your thumbs and pointer fingers form a diamond shape.

  • Brace your core as you push down, elbows extending to the side, then push back up again and repeat.


The best dumbbell chest exercises

Now you’ve tried bodyweight exercises for your chest, let’s take a look at what you can do with minimal weights at home.

How to do dumbbell chest flys
All you need to do a chest fly at home is a pair of dumbbells. This exercise will strengthen and shape your chest and shoulders. Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your back, with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Hold the dumbbells in a neutral position, then push up into starting position – arms above your chest and hands facing each other.

  • Slowly lower the weights at the same time toward the floor, keeping your arms straight.

  • Lower your arms only to where you’re comfortable, then pause slightly before engaging your chest muscles to bring the weights back up to starting position.


How to do a dumbbell floor chest press
It’s usually done on a bench, but you can still work your upper body with this chest press at home on the floor. Here’s how to do it correctly:

  • Lie on your back, with knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Hold the dumbbells directly above your chest with straight arms, the ends of each dumbbell facing each other.

  • Stay strong through your wrists as you lower your elbows down to bring the weights to either side of your chest, then push them back up.

  • To keep your chest engaged, make sure you don’t completely lock out your arms when lifting above your chest – just pause slowly at the top before lowering the weights again.


The best resistance band chest exercises

Resistance bands are an inexpensive and portable piece of equipment, and most chest-building moves you do with dumbbells or a barbell can be mimicked with a heavy band. While banded chest exercises such as a banded chest press or chest fly mimic the weighted lifts, adding a band to a bodyweight exercise increases the resistance and the challenge.

How to do a band-resisted push-up
To get more from your time on the mat, add a band to increase the resistance you’re working against. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place a resistance band around your back, just below your armpits. The ends of the band should be hooked around each hand so that when you take the push-up position on the floor, the band is anchored underneath your hands.

  • You can increase resistance by shortening the band (wrapping more of it around your hands.)

  • Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and come up onto your toes.

  • Keep your core tight and your neck in a neutral position while you bend through the elbows to lower your body toward the ground then push back up.

  • Your body should stay straight (no bending at the hips) as you lower up and down.

  • Given the added resistance of the band, you may want to start with fewer reps, then build with each workout.


How to do an anchored standing chest fly
For a chest fly alternative at home to work those pecs, grab a resistance band. Just make sure it is anchored to something extremely sturdy. You don’t want to fall flat on your face or tear your downpipes off the wall. Here’s how to perform an anchored standing chest fly correctly:

  • Anchor your band safely at around shoulder height.

  • Grip the band in your left hand and step forward to the point you start to feel tension in the band.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a slight bend in your knees and your torso leaning slightly forward (while keeping your back straight.)

  • With your fist facing forward at around shoulder height, pull the band forward until your arm is pointing almost straight out in front of you, then let your arm travel back behind your torso – as you feel the tension release, pull forward again.

  • Make sure your stance is solid to ensure the band doesn’t pull you back with it.

  • Do a set amount of reps on your left arm (until you’re struggling to maintain good form) then switch to your right.


How to do an anchored standing chest press
No bench? No problems. You can use a band to mimic a cable machine and perform a standing band chest press. Again, make sure your band is anchored around something that won’t break or send you flying when you start pressing. Let’s look at how to do it:

  • Your band should be firmly anchored at a good height and centered (i.e. not closer to your left or right arm.)

  • With the ends of the band held in each fist, fix your stance with one leg back and one forward (whichever way feels natural) and a slight bend in the front knee.

  • Lean your torso slightly forward – maintaining a straight angle down to your back foot.

  • Leading with your fists, press your arms forward until both are almost straight out in front of you, then let your elbows travel back.

  • As your elbows return to just behind your back, press forward again and repeat.


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