Do you want to get a broad upper chest without going to the gym?
Well, it seems to be impossible since most of the trainers suggest to do incline exercises on the bench such as bench press or chest flyes. Without a doubt, these are great moves.
However, there are excellent chest exercises without weights that can substitute them which will give you the same results, in this case, a huge upper chest which is the sign of a perfect physique.
Here I’m going to show you the most beneficial moves and help you to create your best upper chest workout at home.
What are the best upper chest bodyweight exercises?
As I mentioned above, in the gym we mainly do exercises on the incline bench to focus on the upper part of the chest. The best weightlifting exercises are the barbell and dumbbell bench press for this purpose.
The best bodyweight move for developing the size and the strength of your pecs is the push-up and its variations. That we usually do in a horizontal position, this way we work the entire chest but mainly the middle part of it.
How to work the upper chest at home if you do push-ups?
By getting into a position, as if we were doing incline presses.
Hence, we perform decline push-ups.
This way more resistance is generated at the upper part of the chest area as if it was done in a flat position.
You can quickly get into that position by placing your feet on something high, for example on a chair or a box.
The decline push-up is an excellent compound exercise since it works not only your upper chest but also your triceps, shoulders, and even your core since you have to stabilize your body.
Keep in mind, that the higher you put your feet, the more your shoulders work. So, you have to test different levels to find a level when you feel the most engagement in your upper chest.
Decline push-ups guide
You should perform this exercise as if you were doing standard push-ups. So, go down until your chest almost touches the floor and breathe in. When you push yourself up, squeeze your pecs and breath out. When you reach the starting position, squeeze your chest muscles for a moment, and then start again.
While completing the moves, keep your torso straight. Don’t lift your hips up or let them down. So, keep your core tight.
Tips for beginners
If you are a total beginner, and you can perform at least 15 regular push-ups correctly, you can start this exercise. Obviously, it is harder to do so that you can do fewer reps. But, do not care about that, just focus on the correct form. In the beginning, you may use lower degrees decline level, and as you develop, you can put your feet on a higher object.
Tips for trainees at better strength level (variations)
If you are already strong and you can simply perform 20 or more decline push-ups, you can make this exercise harder by adding extra resistance (using weight) or try the variations of it. This way you can develop your upper chest size and strength even better.
The most comfortable way to have weighted bodyweight exercises is to use a weight vest. It does not disturb you while you perform the movements, plus you can quickly alter the amount of load for your needs. You will see that just by adding a few pounds extra to your decline press-ups, they will be much harder to perform.
If you do not have a weight vest yet, you can ask your kids to sit on your back as I do. Another alternative is to use heavy chains that you put behind your neck.
Also, you can variate your decline push up. For example, you can:
- put medicine balls under your hand;
- do it with a single-arm (that is really hard);
- perform clap push-ups in a decline position to boost explosive power and muscle growth. (Be careful! You can fall on your face. And that hurts. I know!);
- lift one of your legs up so it will be much harder to keep your balance;
- change your hand distance making it narrower or wider. (e.g., diamond push-ups);
- use push up bars to go deeper that leads to a longer range of motion;
- instead of a box or chair use a stability ball;
I use these techniques to make my upper chest workout at home even tougher and, I have been able to build an upper body as if I have been lifting weights.
Other best upper chest exercises at home
And finally, let me show you an exercise that is not decline, but you can do it in a horizontal position. And it works well. When you perform this bodyweight chest exercise variation, you should narrow the distance between your elbows. If you are a beginner, do this exercise on your knees. If you are at an advanced level, complete the move without your knees touching the ground.
What if you do not like these exercises for upper pecs without weights or still want to lift weights?
Well, if you have just a little space, you can get an adjustable weight bench and a pair of adjustable dumbbells so you can have an incline dumbbell bench press. And by combining the bodyweight and free weight chest workouts, you can have an excellent upper pec workout at home.
Example Upper Chest Workout at Home
While we try to focus on the development of the upper part of the chest muscles, it is impossible to work just them without engaging the others.
Anyway, there is no such thing as “upper chest” since it is just the upper part of the pectoralis mayor which is one big muscle. But, with decline moves, we can add extra load to them.
Here is a sample routine for beginners. (Do it 1-2× week)
Do 3-4 sets from the following (in-circuit if you want)
- Usual push-ups: 10 to 15 reps
- Decline push up: 8-10 reps
- Bench dips (use a chair): 10 – 15
This home chest workout routine will work your entire upper body but gives an extra boost to your upper pecs.
If you are a more advanced trainee, do more reps, sets and add variations and weighted exercises.
Other chest exercises that are great for the upper chest
This is a slight twist on the classic push-up we all know and love. In fact, there’s hardly any difference. As the name suggests, these are push-ups that you hold. Sounds simple enough, but it is not so easy in practice.
To do a push-up hold, get in the high push-up position and go down as you would with a regular push-up. This time though, once you reach the bottom push-up position, hold it. The point of the exercise, like other isometric exercises, is to try to hold this position for as long you can.
This a great way to blast your whole chest, shoulders, and core. This exercise helps improve definition in the upper chest region.
The wide push-up is a great way to add a bigger load on your chest. This exercise is much like the regular push-up except for where you place your hands. You place your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart and go down and up like normal push-ups.
Widening your grip like this will demand more work from your pectoral muscles, including the upper chest. The exercise will increase muscle endurance and strength in your chest, triceps, and deltoids. You always want to make sure your muscles aren’t just for show.
Try to do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, making sure to keep your back straight and your core engaged. The wide push-up is a good combo, or alternative, exercise for regular push-ups. Mixing up your push-up variations will help you prevent injuries from overdoing one specific exercise.
One of the most infamous variations of the push-up, the diamond push-up is a body-building and calisthenics go-to for a perfectly chiseled chest.
To do a diamond push-up, you must first get in the higher push-up position. Next, move your hands towards each other on the floor directly under your chest. Make sure your index fingers are touching, then do the same for your thumbs. This will form the “diamond” that characterizes this exercise. In this position, go down and come up. The same rules of normal push-ups (straight back, engaged core) apply.
This is a tough one, so try to do 2 sets of 10. If you are completely new to chest workouts, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to do these. However, feel free to try if you want a sense of how far you have to go.
Alternating shuffle push-up
This is a fun one. Alternating shuffle push-ups involve the chest, triceps, shoulder, and core working together harmoniously. If you want all these benefits, in addition to an awesome upper chest, you need to try these.
To do these push-ups, start as you would with regular ones. Assume the position and perform a push-up. Don’t count that as one yet, because that’s the halfway point. After the push-up, move your left hand next to your right, then slide your right hand further to the right until both arms are shoulder-width apart, and you are in the starting push-up position, again. You then do another push-up. THAT’S one.
The exercise is essentially two push-ups with a little shuffle in the middle. You then repeat the movements in the opposite direction.
Try to do 2 sets of ten, and your chest will thank you.
Cross-over box push-up
This exercise is similar to the alternating shuffle push-ups we discussed above. The major difference is that we make use of a box to help us out.
Start in the regular push-up position with your right hand on a box. Do a push-up and then move your left hand onto the box as well. Next, move your right hand to the right until your arms are shoulder-width apart again. Do another push-up. That’s “one”. This will engage a whole range of stabilizer muscles in addition to your chest area.
Dynamic box push-up
Some more box work for you. This exercise is a plyometric twist on the diamond push-up we touched on earlier.
To do the dynamic box push up, get in the diamond push-up position (index fingers and thumbs touching) with your hands on top of a box. Lower yourself as you would with a diamond push-up. Next, push yourself up explosively and, while in mid-air, quickly move your arms shoulder-width apart so they land on the ground on either side of the box. Next, go down like in a normal push-up and explosively push yourself up and move your arms back onto the box. That is one.
This an advanced exercise so I would suggest that you try and do as many as you can.
Plyometric exercises are your friend ladies and gents. The intensity and explosiveness are not only effective muscle builders, but they also make these exercises some of the best at burning fat.
Clap push-ups are no different. Start in a regular push-up position and go down. On your way up, push yourself with high explosiveness so your upper body gets launched off the ground.
At the height of the “jump”, quickly clap your hands and get them back shoulder-width so you catch yourself safely. This advanced exercise blasts your pecs spectacularly and being able to do it all is a major confidence boost.
If the normal clappers get too easy or boring, try behind-the-back claps for an added challenge. If THAT gets too easy too, try the legendary triple claps (clap once under the chest, once behind the back, and once under chest again…all before you land).
As far as push-up variations go, this is almost a unicorn. You’ve probably seen it in a few movies and thought that there is no way a real human being could do the exercise. However, I am here to tell you that it is very possible and, with time, effort, and dedication, YOU will be able to pull this off too.
This exercise effectively doubles the load on the arm and its corresponding chest muscles. The unweighted arm is tucked away behind your back so you are not tempted to cheat. Your core and other stabilizing muscles will be on fire during this exercise as you can imagine. You can target individual pecs with this exercise, which is useful if one is slightly weaker or less developed than the other.
For this exercise, try to keep your feet wider than you would a regular push-up. Also, keep your back straight and do not let your hips twist about.
To sum up
There is no need to go to the gym for an upper pectoral workout since there are powerful bodyweight exercises you can do at home. Just check out those calisthenics and street workout guys, they do not use weights, but they have a perfect upper body.