How to Build Ab and Chest Muscles Without Weights

A chest and abs workout at home doesn't take a set of dumbbells or any equipment at all. In fact, it doesn't even take separate exercises. A number of movements work both the abs and the pecs at the same time without requiring anything more than your body weight.

Push ups are a great exercise to work both your chest and abs. (Image: nd3000/iStock/GettyImages)

Combine Muscle Groups

A smart fitness move is one that requires more than one muscle group, such as the plank. Planks also require your chest muscles to activate to keep your body elevated. After you've mastered maintaining a plank for 30 seconds says ACE Fitness, amp up the intensity by performing moving planks

To properly perform a plank, lie on your stomach with your face down. Position your elbows close to your sides, directly under your shoulders, with your palms down. As you contract your ab muscles, prop yourself up on your forearms. Keep your entire body in a straight line, resisting the urge to let your glutes pop up or sag.

Make it harder: For a little extra oomph for your core and chest muscles, try Spiderman planks. Instead of resting on your forearms, push yourself up so you're balancing on your hands and toes. Bring the left knee toward the outside of your left ankle, hold for one count and return it to the starting position. Repeat on the right side. Aim for 20 alternating reps.

Work Your Chest and Core

Though push-ups are often considered solely a chest exercise, they also require a surprising amount of muscle activation from your core according to ACE Fitness. The most effective push-up, however, relies on using proper form, which includes:

  • Keeping your body in a straight line, without sagging or lifting your hips — this is what primarily targets the ab muscles.
  • Keeping a wide hand position, which activates the chest muscles, versus a narrow-grip push-up, which activates the triceps.
  • Using a full range of motion to complete an entire push-up, rather than half a rep.

If you can't yet master a full push-up, start with elevated push-ups — that is, with your hands on a bench, table or another elevated surface — or by resting your knees gently on the ground.

Do a Combo Move

Combine the push-up and the plank into one move that blasts the abdominal and chest muscles. As a bonus, this exercise also works your shoulders.

Start in a push-up position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your legs stretched out behind you. Next, lower yourself down to forearm plank position by dropping one elbow at a time. Reverse the movement by returning your arms to the full extended position, one at a time.

Inch Along Like a Worm

If you do this move quickly enough, you'll not only work your chest and shoulders, but your glutes and hip flexors as well, according to Workout Labs.

Start in a standing position with your feet a few inches apart. Contract your abdominal muscles and exhale. As you do this, bend forward from the hips and lower your upper body toward the floor until you can place the palms of your hands in front of you. Try to keep the spine straight while doing this.

Next, slowly walk your hands forward, letting your heels rise off the floor. When you reach a full plank position, complete one full push-up. Slowly walk your hands back, reversing the exercise until you're in a standing position again.

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