If you don’t have dumbbells or access to a gym, you might think that you can’t get a great workout for your chest. However, that’s not true. Because men have superior upper body strength, you can perform challenging body weight exercises at home or at a playground that produce strength and build mass while defining your muscles.
Push-ups are a classic calisthenic exercise that sometimes falls by the wayside when pitted against fancy new gym equipment and trendier workouts. However, when it comes to using your own body weight to provide resistance and tone your chest muscles, there are few exercises better than the push-up. According to the U.S. Navy, a proper push-up should be done with hands just wider than shoulder width apart. Keeping your back completely straight, lower your body down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground and your elbows are bent at about 90 degrees. Then push your body back up until your arms are straight, and repeat the move. As a variation, repositioning your hands so that your thumbs and fingers touch to form a triangle will give your triceps an extra challenge.
A chest dip is similar to a triceps dip, but it works the chest as well as the arms. Because you are lifting your entire body weight, chest dips are a challenge. You don’t need weights to do it, but you will need a dip station or two strong parallel bars that are between waist and shoulder height. Grip the bars with your palms facing inward, and lift your feet off the floor. Extend your elbows, keeping your arms straight, and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Then slowly lower yourself down until your elbows are bent at an ankle close to 90 degrees. Pull yourself back up and repeat the dip exercise until your muscles are fatigued.
Resistance bands are an inexpensive, light and convenient alternative to dumbbells and barbells, and you can use them for many of the same exercises. The American Council on Exercise suggests wrapping a band around your back to perform a chest press. Wrap the band around your lower back at your natural waist, near the base of your ribcage. Hold an end of the band in each hand and bend your elbows at 90 degrees, keeping your arms at chest height. Slowly straighten your arms, pulling the band as you go and keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Pause and return to start. For a greater challenge, stretch the band across your back when doing pushups to provide extra resistance.
Whether you’re using weights or not, proper form is especially important for strength and resistance exercises. Sloppy form raises your risk of injury and can severely strain your muscles. Always watch a trainer or fitness professional perform a move before you try it yourself, and consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. To maximize your results, perform exercises slowly and in a controlled fashion to recruit maximal muscle fiber. Eat plenty of lean protein and drink lots of plain water to enhance muscle development.