Making it to the gym isn’t always as easy or as practical as we would like. Factors such as crowds, crummy equipment, and commuting can dissuade people from paying $60 a month for a gym membership.
Although having access to a gym usually makes training easier, a gym membership is not necessary for getting stronger.
As long as we’re using similar training strategies, we can get creative and build an impressive figure or physique using minimal equipment.
Although it seems blasphemous to say, you don’t actually need a bench press or a pec dec in order to have a strong, defined chest.
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The pushup is one of the first exercises we ever learn in gym class back in first grade. It’s also a staple movement for any beginner lifter getting back into shape.
However, as an individual advances throughout their training, the pushup seems to fall out of the rotation of exercises in their routine. But doing pushups, and all the pushup variations is one of the most versatile, effective ways to grow your chest.
How to Do a Push Up
To do a basic push up, start by lying on the floor face down and place your hands just outside shoulder width.
Arms should be straight, hips level with your shoulders, and shoulder blades packed together.
Make sure to apply pressure to your fingers as well as your palms to prevent unwanted wrist strain.
Your shoulders should be directly on top of your hands in the top position.
Before lowering yourself down, bend at the elbows while keeping your forearms still. Allow your torso to drift slightly forward as you descend.
Lower yourself until you are just about to hit the ground, or until you cannot stretch our your chest any further.
From this position, push the ground away from you, keeping a tight torso, and push yourself back to the starting position.
Once you know how to do a perfect push up, you can try out different variations to make it easier or harder to perform. You can also change angles in order to target different parts of the chest.
By elevating your feet, you make the push up more difficult and target more of your upper chest. However, if you struggle with doing a push up off the ground, you can elevate your arms on the side of sturdy chair to make it easier. This will also target more of your lower chest.
Once bodyweight becomes too easy, you can try balancing weight on your back as you do a push up. Even if you don’t have calibrated Eleiko plates at your house, you can grab a backpack and shove some books in it, strap it to your back and start repping away.
Furthermore, you can do push ups with your hands on an uneven surface (for example one arm on a thick book, one on the ground) to stress one side of the chest more than the other.
If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to be like Rocky, try some one-arm pushups and start training to defeat Drago. Although maybe start this variation from an elevated surface before queuing the montage.
Resistance Band or Dumbbell Press
Resistance bands are great for home workouts. They are cheap and you can do all of your basic movement patterns with them.
If, for example, you want to train your chest with them, which would explain why you are reading this right now, you can use them for your pressing movements.
If you have a pair of dumbbells at home, those work, too.
How to Do an At-Home Chest Press
To do a resistance band press, you can anchor a band to something like a pole.
Grab either end of the band and get into a staggered stance position.
With one end of the band attached to each hand and the band anchored about chest height, position your upper arm at about a 90-degree angle with the shoulder.
While keeping the rest of your body still, press the cables away from you before bringing them back under control.
If you’re using dumbbells, get into the same staggered stance and press the dumbbells away from you before bringing them back under control.
You can make this movement more difficult by stepping further away from the anchor point, by using a thicker band, adding another light band or going heavier on your dumbbells.
By adjusting the anchor point either higher or lower, you will target the lower or upper part of the chest respectively.
This would be the equivalent of using an incline or decline bench at the gym.
Resistance Band Flyes
Pressing movements like push ups are compound movements, meaning that they activate several muscle groups while performing the exercise, not just the chest, but also the shoulders and triceps.
Isolation exercises focus on just one muscle group in particular. If you want to isolate your chest in your workout at home, then resistance bands are your best friend.
To isolate the chest using a resistance band, set up just as you did on the banded press.
Start with your arms extended straight in front of you.
Now, while only ever having a slight bend in your elbow that never moves, move your arms apart laterally, stretching out your chest horizontally.
Keep bringing the bands back until you cannot go back any further without compromising your position and losing tension out of your chest.
Then squeeze your hands together, making sure not to bend at the elbow and press.
I know it’s tempting, but make the lighter weight feel heavy and keep strict form. Squeeze the bands together until your hands are together again.
The fly can be performed with either your palms facing each other or the ground, whichever one you feel stretches out your chest better.
Like the banded press, you can also adjust where the band is anchored to target different parts of the chest.
If you anchor it higher and fly down, you’ll be hitting more of your lower chest. If you anchor it lower and fly up, you’ll be hitting more of your upper chest.