How effective is the chest exercise you are doing right now? If you would like to know, there is a chance that exercise is in this list. Here are 22 bodyweight chest exercises ranked from worst to best.
The chest constitutes a singular extensive muscle cluster. Nevertheless, within the fitness realm, we commonly categorize it into three segments: lower, middle, and upper chest. This division primarily arises due to variations in the orientation of muscle fibers across these regions. To effectively engage each segment, it is advisable to align your exercises with the direction of these muscle fibers and gradually intensify the workload over time.
The list below was formed by Alex Lorenz. Alex Lorenz is the co-founder of Calisthenic Movement and has trained Calisthenics since 2012, uploading videos regularly for those people interested in getting in shape using only their body weight.
22 Chest Exercises Ranked from Worst to Best
In this list of chest exercises ranked from worst to best, there will be exercises that target more your upper chest, and some that target other areas. But remember, if you feel like the barbell bench press is missing and should be on this list, Lorenz is an expert on calistenic movement, meaning only bodyweight exercises are in this list.
He divided the list into 5 categories, from worst to best, and the exercises are rated on chest activities and everything that can influence it. “So if an exercise requires other abilities too, it is rated lower,” Lorez explains. The same can be said about exercises that heavily rely on other muscles in the first place.
- Planche push-up variations
- Frog push-up
- Handstand push-up
- Bench dip
- Pike push-up
- Push-up combinations that change from standard push-up and any other position
- Crucifix push-up
- Explosive push-up
- Typewriter push-up
- Upright dip
- Diamond push-up
- Spiderman push-up
- Knee-to-elbow push-up
- Ring fly
- One-arm push-up
- Incline push-up
- Decline push-up
- Archer push-up
- Standard push-up
- Ring push-up
- Chest dip
To fully understand why each exercise is ranked higher than the other and why they are, in general, good at targeting your muscles or how to do them, watch the full video below.
Training the chest is important for several reasons, and it plays a significant role in overall strength, aesthetics, and functional fitness. Here are some key reasons why chest training is crucial:
- Upper Body Strength: The chest muscles, specifically the pectoralis major and minor, are essential for various upper body movements, such as pushing, lifting, and carrying. A strong chest provides a solid foundation for upper body strength and improves performance in exercises like bench press, push-ups, and overhead presses.
- Symmetry and Aesthetics: A well-developed chest enhances the overall appearance of the upper body. It contributes to a balanced and proportionate physique, especially when combined with well-trained shoulders and back muscles. Aesthetically pleasing chest muscles can boost confidence and self-esteem.
- Functional Movements: Chest strength is crucial for performing daily activities like pushing doors open, carrying groceries, and lifting objects. Having a strong chest helps in maintaining proper posture and preventing injuries during these movements.
- Core Stability: Many chest exercises engage the core muscles to stabilize the body during pressing movements. This indirect activation of the core helps improve core strength and stability, which is essential for overall body support and balance.
- Bone Health: Resistance training, including chest exercises, can contribute to better bone health. Weight-bearing exercises like bench press can stimulate bone remodeling and help prevent osteoporosis.
Advantages of Bodyweight Exercises
Incorporating calisthenics into your fitness routine offers numerous benefits beyond achieving a lean and strong physique:
- Versatility: Bodyweight exercises can be performed anywhere, making them ideal for staying active even during travel or vacation.
- Joint Strength: Progressing to more advanced movements in calisthenics challenges your joints to support your body weight, providing a unique and beneficial form of joint strengthening.
- Full-Body Workout: Calisthenics engage multiple muscle groups, ensuring a comprehensive workout that targets the entire body, including areas often overlooked in traditional gym exercises.
- Impressive Skills: Mastering advanced bodyweight movements can leave a lasting impression on those around you, showcasing your strength and skill.
- Cost-Effective: Many bodyweight exercises require minimal to no equipment, making them an inexpensive option for achieving your fitness goals. Basic exercises can be performed with only your bodyweight, while adding a pull-up bar or finding one at a nearby playground expands your exercise options further.
- Effective for Weight Loss: Calisthenics, involving multiple muscle groups, tend to burn more calories than conventional cardio exercises, contributing to weight loss and increased overall energy expenditure.
Drawbacks of Bodyweight Exercises
While calisthenics offer numerous advantages, there are a few limitations to consider:
- Limited Muscle Bulking: If your goal is to achieve significant muscle mass and a heavily muscular physique, calisthenics may not be the most efficient method. Powerlifting and gym-based weight training are better suited for bulking.
- Not Ideal for Recovery: Calisthenics may not be suitable for individuals recovering from surgery or undergoing physical therapy, as these exercises can be demanding and potentially exacerbate existing injuries.
- Plateau Potential: Progressing in calisthenics can be challenging, as you are limited to utilizing your body weight. Unlike weight training, where you can easily increase the load, calisthenics require finding creative ways to continue challenging yourself with only bodyweight resistance.
In conclusion, calisthenics offer a highly adaptable and effective form of exercise, allowing for workouts anywhere with minimal equipment. They promote joint strength, provide a full-body workout, and can impress others with advanced movements. However, individuals seeking substantial muscle mass or recovering from injuries may find other training methods more suitable. Despite potential plateaus, calisthenics remains a valuable and accessible approach to achieving overall fitness and strength.
When engaging in bodyweight exercises, it’s essential to adhere to key principles that optimize results and prioritize safety:
- Proper Form and Technique: Emphasize maintaining correct form and technique during each exercise to effectively target muscles and prevent injuries. Focus on alignment, engage targeted muscles, and execute movements with control and stability.
- Progression: Continuously challenge your muscles by progressively increasing the difficulty of bodyweight exercises as you gain strength. Add variations, adjust leverage, increase repetitions or sets, and incorporate advanced progressions to stimulate muscle growth.
- Full Range of Motion: Perform exercises through their complete range of motion to engage muscles fully and enhance flexibility and mobility.
- Balanced Routine: Create a well-rounded routine by including bodyweight exercises that target different muscle groups, ensuring balance in upper body, lower body, and core exercises.
- Consistency and Frequency: Consistently perform bodyweight exercises 2-3 times per week or more, depending on your fitness level and goals, to achieve progress and muscle development.
- Proper Warm-up and Cool-down: Warm up with dynamic stretches or light cardio before your workout to increase blood flow and prepare muscles for exercise. Cool down with static stretches afterward to enhance flexibility and aid recovery.
- Listen to Your Body: Be attentive to your body’s signals and modify exercises as needed. Avoid pushing yourself to the point of pain or excessive fatigue and progress gradually.
- Rest and Recovery: Allow sufficient time for rest and recovery between workouts to enable muscle repair and growth. Incorporate rest days and prioritize sleep and proper nutrition.
- Adaptability: Bodyweight exercises can be adapted to different fitness levels and settings, making them versatile and suitable for various situations.
- Enjoyment and Sustainability: Choose bodyweight exercises that you enjoy and can sustain in the long term. Engage in variations and progressions that keep your workouts enjoyable and motivating.
Always consult with a healthcare professional or qualified fitness trainer before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have underlying health conditions or injuries. Their guidance will ensure a safe and effective approach to bodyweight training.