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How to Have a Chest Workout Without a Bench

    chest workout without a bench

    How to train chest without bench

    Working to build your upper chest region is no doubt the major goal of most people that go to gyms, bodybuilders, and first-timers who are looking to start a workout routine. However, some persons are naturally blessed with a broad upper chest even without any workout.

    Chest workouts are the most common types of workout routines, and how to perform these exercises without the use of a bench is what we’ll be showing you.

    The easiest way to perform a chest workout without a bench is by doing push ups and dumbbell exercises. There variations of push up that you can do at home and different dumbbell exercises that help you grow your chest.

    Here I would like to show you the best exercises and a sample chest workout plan you can do at home.

    Best Chest Exercises Without a Bench

    Dumbbell Push-ups: Pectoral muscles

     A dumbbell push-up exercise is also another example of a chest workout without a bench. The interesting thing and major advantage of this push-up exercise are that you can perform it anywhere, and at any time. In every weight training program or routine, a dumbbell push-up is always the main exercise, and it’s no surprise why they are very common among a lot of athletes.

    The regular push-ups that are carried out on the floor can put too much pressure on your wrists by overwhelming them, and that can eventually cause tendonitis which makes a dumbbell push-up a preferred option.

    Simply get a pair of dumbbells and put them at a shoulder distance from each other, then grab the dumbbells with both hands and do the normal push-up, ensuring that your back and waist maintain a straight position. When performing this exercise, if you begin to notice a strong tension in your triceps, you should try shifting the dumbbells a little outward so that it focuses more on your pectoral muscles.

    One of the major advantages of a dumbbell push-up is that apart from the obvious effect of chest enlargement that it gives you, it will also prevent your wrists from getting injured.

    Push-ups Variety

    The press up is without a doubt the best alternative to bench press. And the variations are endless. With the help of them, you can focus on developing your strength, or target a particular area of your chest.

    (Anyway, your chest includes two muscles the pectoralis minor and mayor. So, there is no such thing as upper or lower pecs. But, it is easier to understand what targets the move.)

    Basic versions:

    basic push up variations


    Traditional: That works the entire upper body, mainly your middle chest and triceps. It is the fundamental of each variation. Hence, it is essential to learn the proper form and practice it.

    The incline: This is the version when you place your hands on something higher for example on a bench or two chairs. Since most of your bodyweight is on the ground, the upper body gets less load, so it is maybe easier to perform. Therefore, a good starting exercise for beginners. It targets the lower parts of the pecs.

    The decline: This is the variations when you put your feet on something high, a box or chair. Hence, there is more load on the upper body. With that, it requires more power to perform. It works the upper part of the chest well.

    OK, so these are the primary versions, that can be enhanced and modified in various ways depending on your fitness level to have progressive overload.

    Here a few typical ways:

    • Increase or decrease the intensity. Instead of performing the push-ups at the same speed all the time, you can do them slower or faster. For example, when you do regular push-ups, you lower your body in 5 seconds, and you press yourself up very quickly.
    • Change the distance between your hands. If you put your hands closer to each other, you can target your inner chest and triceps (for example diamond push-ups.) If you make it broader, it works your shoulders and even your back more. For instance, wide grip decline push-ups.
    • Get in touch with the floor with fewer points. What do I mean? You lift one of your feet, or you perform the exercises with one arm. Apparently, these movements are much harder to perform, particularly the single arm ones. But, that is the reason why they are so effective to gain muscle mass and strength.
    • Plyometrics (jump moves): These are push-ups when you press yourself up as quickly as possible with such a power that your hands leave the ground. A good example is the clapping push up.

    These modifications are enough for everyone to create a chest workout without a bench that gains each part of the chest efficiently.

    For even more different types of push-ups check out the following video.

    Dumbbell Chest Exercises Without a Bench

    If you have a pair of adjustable dumbbells but have no bench, you can perform various exercises. (And combine them with press-ups)

    Typically, these are very similar to the exercises we usually do on the bench (dumbbell bench press), but instead, we do them on the floor. This way the range of motion will be shorter, which is not so good, but you can handle much heavier weights. And, that leads to significant strength development.

    home dumbbell workout no bench

    Chest workout at home with dumbbells

    Dumbbell floor press: This is the best for power and size. If your strength level is better, you can use one dumbbell instead of two. This asymmetric move activates your pec and core muscles even better since it is more difficult to perform the exercise and keep your stability.

    Chest flyes on the floor: Without a doubt, the bench version is far better, since the range of motion is considerably longer, but this drill is still OK to stretch and widened your pecs. If you have a stability ball at home, lie on that instead.

    Svend press: This is a standing chest exercise that is usually done with a weight plate, but you can use a dumbbell as well.


    Sample Chest Workouts Without a Bench

    For beginners

    The base of a home chest workout is the push-up, so I suppose you can do at least 10. If not, follow this progressions guide.

    A complete chest workout trains your pecs from every angle. Hence, you should do various exercises. Depending on your fitness level do this routine 1-3 times a week. As you develop, increase the number of reps /sets and try harder variations.

    Don’t forget to warm up and stretch before/after your training.

    Push up plan:

    • 3×10-15 regular
    • 3×8-10 decline
    • 2×15 incline

    Combination plan with dumbbells

    • 3×10-15 push-ups
    • 3×8-10 floor press
    • 2×15 incline

    For intermediate

    Apparently, at that level, you will do more reps, and more types of exercises (plyo, static, weighted, push up equipment) and may increase the intensity.

    Here is a sample push up plan. Do 3-4 rounds with 1-minute rest.

    • 20 regular
    • 30 sec push up hold
    • 20 decline
    • 20 diamond
    • 40-50 incline

    Related: How can I build my chest at home?


    Can you build a big and firm chest without bench exercises?

    Yes and no. If you want to get massive pecs as bodybuilders have, you should enter the gym and do bench press. But, with chest exercises at home, you can build a robust and formed upper body if you follow the progressive overload technique.

    Just think about those calisthenics guys who do chest workouts without a bench. They are extremely strong and can perform moves that bodybuilders can hardly do.

    How to build lower chest muscles without weights?

    If you want to focus on the lower parts of your pecs, you need to the incline push-ups (when you place your hands on something higher). I use two chairs because I can go deeper increasing the length of the motion. Plus, I do higher reps since this type of press up is easier to perform.

    Bench press without a bench?

    Well, it seems to be a useless exercise, but it works! It is a good alternative for those who have shoulder problems and do not want to neglect bench pressing. Also, it is a great way to add variety to your chest training. Finally, even if it is a shorter motion, you can focus on your pecs better since our shoulders are not engaged as much. Both barbell and dumbbell versions are worth trying.

    Have a question or idea on a chest workout without a bench? Share with us below.


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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