If you want to build a bigger chest, you don't have to pay monthly membership fees at a gym, sit in traffic to get there or wait for an open bench to get to work. In fact, you don't even need to leave the house — or purchase any special equipment. It can be as simple as doing one of the most well-known exercises of all time: the push-up.
"The push-up is a fantastic exercise for men, especially to build a strong, commanding chest," says fitness expert Eric Fleishman (aka Eric the Trainer), who is also a host of Celebrity Sweat. He suggests switching between a few different types of push-ups and limiting your range of motion. "This builds the pectoral region sideways, creating a high and flat chest that looks like two dinner plates high on your torso."
The Best At-Home Chest Workout for Men
But how do you know if you're doing your push-ups correctly, or choosing the best variations for building up the chest? The following workout can help. All you need is your own body weight and a bit of floor space to do this push-up-only routine that will increase your entire chest and help build strength and size.
You can use this workout as a standalone chest-building workout done twice a week, or use it in addition to weight-lifting, resting 24 to 48 hours between workouts for optimal muscle recovery.
Move 1: Standard Push-Ups
Warm up for your at-home chest workout with a set of straightforward push-ups, taking care to ensure proper form before you move on to more challenging variations.
- In a perfect push-up position, your shoulders are aligned directly over your wrists, and your body is in one straight line from your shoulders to your heels, meaning your hips don't sag or pike up.
- As you lower down, keep your elbows close to your sides; don't let them flare out.
- Lower your chest until your chest almost touches the floor.
- Press back up, maintaining that solid plank-like position.
- Do 10 reps.
Drop to your knees or perform these at an incline (hands on a step or bench) to make them easier.
Do: One set of 10 to 15 reps of the first three exercises back-to-back with as little rest as possible in between sets. Complete three to four rounds total, resting for two minutes in between rounds. At the end, finish with plyo push-ups.
Move 1: Diamond Push-Ups
"Placing your hands close together in a diamond shape adds a greater physical challenge," says Samantha Clayton, who works with elite athletes as the vice president of sports performance and fitness education at Herbalife Nutrition. "The narrow base challenges your core, and the hand position places an added emphasis on the inside (cleavage area) of the pec muscle."
- To start, move your hands closer together on the floor, toward the center of your chest. Bring them close enough so that your thumbs and forefingers meet to form a diamond shape.
- Maintain proper push-up form as you lower down.
- Press back up.
Move 2: One-Legged Push-Ups
"Perform a standard push-up, but lift one leg about an inch off the floor," says Clayton. This adds a balance challenge and puts almost 100 percent of the load on your arms and chest.
- Start in a perfect high plank and lift one leg a few inches off the ground.
- Maintain proper push-up form as you lower your chest down.
- Press back up.
To make it easier, start with your feet closer together; to make it harder, set your feet wider apart.
Read more: The 30-Day Push-Up Challenge
Move 3: Decline Push-Ups
"Perform a standard push-up, but have both feet elevated (on a step, low chair or box) to increase the resistance on the chest and shoulder muscles," says Clayton. The higher the feet, the more challenging it is. However, you don't want your feet to be too high or it becomes more of a shoulder exercise.
- Getting into a traditional push-up position with your feet up on a stair or chair so your body is at a 15- to 40-degree angle to the floor.
- Perform the exercise just as you would regular push-ups, keeping your body in one straight line.
Finisher: Plyo Push-Ups
End your at-home chest workout with a challenging move: Plyometric push-ups will help you build size but also power. You'll use your chest muscles to "explode" off the floor and catch yourself when you land.
This move builds a lot of chest strength, as it requires both power and control, says Clayton. "You do a standard push-up but get a little air time as you push your chest up from the floor try to get both hands up off the mat."
- Start in regular push-up position.
- Lower down, then powerfully push up off the ground trying to catch air at the top of the movement.
- Your toes will stay on the ground, but your aim is to lift your hands off the floor. See if you can clap your hands together at the top.
- Land with bent elbows and go straight into your next rep.
- Try your hardest to reach 10 reps.
Read more: The Power Push-Up Workout