Want to work out, but it’s chest day, and every barbell and bench in the gym is taken? Maybe you prefer to train in the comfort of your home but can’t or don’t want to spend a small fortune on a home gym. You need a home chest workout!
StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout is an effective workout for your chest muscles that you can do at home with minimal, low-cost equipment.
This premium workout is available in our workout tracker app, which you can download using the button for your device. StrengthLog makes for hassle-free workout logging and is 100% without ads, including the free version.
Benefits of Strong Chest Muscles
Apart from the smaller and less powerful biceps, no muscle group draws more attention than the pectoral muscles. Even fully clothed, well-developed chest muscles show that you’ve spent time with the weights, and when the shirt comes off, you can’t hide a set of defined pecs. Not that you’d want to!
A strong chest offers several valuable benefits.
Strong chest muscles work with the muscles in your upper back to maintain an upright, good posture. If your pecs are tight, they might pull your shoulders forward and make you slouch. The good thing is that strength training improves flexibility for a greater range of motion as effectively as stretching.1
Overall Upper Body Strength
Your pectoral muscles contribute significantly to your overall upper body strength, and every athlete, lifter, and bodybuilder benefits from stronger chest muscles. Every time you push something away from you or throw something, you use your chest strength. Even everyday tasks like lifting a child into your arms become more manageable when your pecs have the power to handle them.
Looks matter, or at least feeling like you look good does. Research shows that the ideal male body for both men and women includes increased chest size.2 3 Muscular pecs not only give an impression of strength and power but also of perceived attractiveness.
Chest Muscle Anatomy
Before we jump into the specific exercises of StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout, let’s take a moment to examine the muscles that make up your pectorals and how they function.
The pectoral muscles are a group of four primary muscles responsible for moving your upper extremities in a wide range of motion: the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus anterior, and subclavius.
The pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle that makes up the bulk of your chest muscles. You can activate different parts of the pectoralis major to determine the function of the muscle. The muscle fibers attached to the clavicular head allow you to bring your arm forward. In contrast, the fibers that attach to the sternocostal head let you internally rotate and bring your arm backward and towards the midline of your body horizontally and vertically.
The pectoralis major is the muscle you see when a bodybuilder flexes their chest and what most people think of when training the chest. It is one of the largest muscles in the upper body. The delts and triceps are larger but consist of multiple heads.
The pectoralis minor resides below the pectoralis major and is, true to its name, smaller and thinner. It runs from the third to fifth rib at the front of your ribcage to a small hook-like protrusion on the front of your scapula. The pectoralis minor stabilizes your shoulder blades by pulling them down towards your chest wall.
The serratus anterior is a fan-shaped muscle on the side of your ribs that looks like a set of fingers when your body fat is low enough. The serratus is often called the boxer’s muscle because it protracts the scapula, like when you throw a punch. It also helps you raise your arms and lift the ribs, assisting you when you breathe.
Finally, you have the tiny, triangular subclavius muscle originating from the first rib. It stabilizes your collarbone when you move the shoulder girdle.
Getting a solid chest workout without a flat bench is a bit of a challenge, but you can do some of the best exercises for building muscle and strength with an absolute minimum of equipment. For StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout, you need three things: your body weight, a pair of dumbbells, and a set of resistance bands.
You can either use traditional, fixed dumbbells or go for an adjustable set of dumbbells. Both options work well, as you’ll only perform one dumbbell exercise, so you don’t have to change back and forth between light and heavy dumbbells during the session. Adjustable dumbbells are probably the best overall option, as they allow you to work the rest of your body without having multiple weights lying around. You can adjust the weight on the fly and don’t need to buy new dumbbells regularly as you get stronger.
You also need a resistance band. Resistance bands allow you to perform chest flyes with a full range of motion without an adjustable bench. With dumbbell flyes, your upper arms hit the floor, limiting the movement’s effectiveness. Dumbbell chest presses on the floor are fine because you can use a much heavier weight, challenging your muscles, but flyes on the floor mean using light dumbbells and a limited range of motion. That is not a recipe for a great exercise. Using a resistance band is a good idea to isolate your chest without training equipment that takes up a lot of space. It’s inexpensive and versatile and allows you to perform many of the best exercises for the rest of your body.
Last but not least, you need one of the best pieces of equipment for your at-home workouts: your body weight. Some bodyweight exercises, like the push-up, even challenge the good old bench press for building chest strength and muscle mass.4
Warm muscles perform better than cold. Before you start lifting, take a few minutes to warm up your body in general and your chest and shoulders in particular. By increasing the blood flow to your muscles and raising your body temperature before your workout, you improve performance and might reduce the risk of injury.
Follow these steps for a thorough warm-up and to prepare for a great chest workout:
- Start with a few minutes of cardio to get your blood flowing. It doesn’t matter much what aerobic exercise you do as long as it increases your heart rate. Some examples are jogging in place, jumping jacks, jumping rope, or riding a home exercise bike.
- Before hitting the weights, do some shoulder-specific warm-up movements. The shoulder joints are involved in all chest exercises, and preparing them for the upcoming work is a good idea to keep them healthy and avoid shoulder pain
- Arm circles, going from small circles to a full range of motion.
- Pendulum circles for the rotator cuff muscles.
- Shoulder rolls, both forward and backward.
- Overhead pressing movements without any external load or only a very light weight.
- Finally, perform a couple of sets of incline push-ups before moving to the first movement of the workout.
Rest intervals are the time you spend resting after a set to allow your muscles to recover before the next. Research suggests that resting at least 2–3 minutes between sets is an excellent strategy to perform your best and maybe even enhance your muscle growth.5 If you prefer a high tempo in your workouts, it’s not a big deal to reduce your set intervals somewhat. You’ll still get the results you want from your hard work. However, taking at least a minute of rest between sets is a good idea to perform your best.
StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout: The Exercises
StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout is short and sweet. It contains only three exercises, but those are the right exercises for an effective chest workout at home. You’ll train your upper chest, middle chest, and lower chest, starting with two compound movements and finishing with an isolation exercise to hit every muscle fiber.
Let’s take a closer look at each exercise and how to perform them with good form. You can see the exact number of sets and the rep ranges in StrengthLog.
Dumbbell Floor Press
The dumbbell floor press is one of the best dumbbell exercises for your chest if you don’t have a weight bench. You won’t get the wider range of motion you get when performing the traditional dumbbell bench press, but floor presses still allow you to use heavy weights to overload your pecs: the best way to make your muscles grow bigger and stronger.
If you have a weight bench at home, feel free to use it and perform regular dumbbell chest presses instead!
Muscles Worked in Dumbbell Floor Press
How to Dumbbell Floor Press
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight and a pair of dumbbells beside you.
- Pick the dumbbells up and place them in your hip creak.
- Lay down while you bring the dumbbells up to your chest.
- Press them dumbbells to straight arms, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Lower the dumbbells slowly until your upper arm hits the floor.
- Reverse the motion and push the dumbbells up to straight arms again.
- Gently drop the dumbbells to the floor to finish the set.
- Greater stability compared to chest presses with dumbbells or barbells.
- Low risk of injury.
- Easy to learn.
- Provides similar strength gains and muscle hypertrophy as the bench press (provided you can increase the load when needed.)
The push-up is also very versatile. If regular push-ups are too challenging, you can perform kneeling push-ups instead. Conversely, if you find them too easy, you can use a resistance band to increase the load and make the exercise more difficult.
If you’re new to push-ups, give the traditional version on your feet a go. If you find yourself struggling, switch to the kneeling variant. You can also change from regular to kneeling push-ups mid-workout if you can do one set of regular push-ups, but the second or third is too challenging.
Muscles Worked in Push-Ups
How to Do Push-Ups
- Assume the starting position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Try to form a straight line from head to feet, and brace your abdomen slightly.
- Lower yourself as deep as you can, while inhaling.
- Reverse the motion when you’ve touched the floor, and push yourself up to straight arms again while exhaling.
- Repeat for reps.
Resistance Band Chest Fly
The fly is an isolation exercise for your chest. Unlike the barbell bench press or the dumbbell chest press, you eliminate the triceps as a prime mover and focus on your chest (with some assistance from your front deltoids.) In a gym, you can perform flyes with a pair of dumbbells, cable crossover, or a dedicated chest fly machine. The standing resistance band fly is an excellent alternative for a home workout without a bench.
Cable chest flyes offer an important advantage over dumbbell flyes: it puts constant tension on your chest muscles. You lose tension in your pecs at the top of the movement with dumbbells. Not so when you use a resistance band. You get the same benefit as with a cable pulley system, but without the need of the machine.
Muscles Worked in Resistance Band Chest Flyes
How to Do Resistance Band Chest Flyes
- Attach the band to a door or something similarly stable around chest level.
- In a standing position, grab the band with one hand and move away from the anchor point until you feel a stretch and resistance in your chest muscles.
- Pull the band in front of your body at chest height with a slight bend at the elbow.
- Contract your chest muscle before returning to the starting position with a controlled movement and repeat for reps.
- Switch to the other side of your body and perform the above steps again.
That’s your home chest workout! After completing it, you should feel a satisfying pump in your pecs. Consistency is key to gaining muscle mass and strength, so keep at it, and you’ll find yourself on the road to building a muscular chest.
How Many Times Per Week Should You Do StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout?
Depending on your experience level, I suggest you perform this workout once or twice weekly. According to up-to-date research, your muscle groups need 10–20 weekly sets to maximize lean muscle mass gain.8 9
An advanced lifter benefits and can recover from more training volume than intermediates, and StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout covers both experience levels.
- If you’re an intermediate-level lifter with at least a few months of training experience, perform StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout once weekly. That’ll give you all the training volume you need to build a big chest at this point.
- Athletes, bodybuilders, and other advanced lifters can do StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout twice per week for optimal results.
How Do You Integrate StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout into Your Workout Routine?
Everyone benefits from training the rest of their body, not just the chest. Fortunately, StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout easily fits almost any workout routine. Here are some examples of three to five-day workout splits.
The push/pull/legs or PPL split is one of the most famous and popular muscle-building splits, and for a good reason. It allows you to train each body part once or twice weekly, making it a great way to split the body for intermediate and advanced lifters. You train your upper-body pushing muscles on the first day, your pulling muscles on the second, then finish off with your legs on day three.
Your chest is a “push” muscle, making StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout perfect for the first day of a PPL split.
- Day 1: StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout, shoulders, and triceps
- Day 2: Back and biceps
- Day 3: Quads and hamstrings
You can either follow this program three days per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example, or train six days in a row and work each muscle twice weekly.
The Arnold Split
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s favorite training split entailed working out six days in a row and resting on Sundays. You can train as he did, but at home, using dumbbells.
- Day 1: StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout and back
- Day 2: Shoulders and arms
- Day 3: Quads and hamstrings
If you’re not a high-level lifter, it might be best to add some extra rest days or train every other day to ensure you get enough recovery.
Four-Day Training Split
A four-day training split lets you focus more on a specific muscle group each workout. StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout is also an excellent addition to such a workout split. You can design a successful four-day split in many ways, but this is a good example:
- Day 1: StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout and biceps
- Day 2: Quads and hamstrings
- Day 3: Back
- Day 4: Shoulders and triceps
Five-Day Training Split
The “bro split” is the preferred workout split of competitive bodybuilders. It means you only train one major body part per workout, allowing for maximum recovery. Bro splits are usually five- or six-day splits, and a five-day variant could look like this:
- Day 1: StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout
- Day 2: Back
- Day 3: Quads and hamstrings
- Day 4: Shoulders
- Day 5: Biceps and triceps
These are just a few examples and recommendations for incorporating StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout into your training program. If you have other plans or ideas, feel free to switch things around to fit your schedule.
Of course, all the StrengthLog home dumbbell workouts are 100 % compatible with any splits.
- Arm Workout With Dumbbells at Home
- Home Back Workout for Muscle Mass and Strength
- Leg Workout With Dumbbells at Home
- Shoulder Workout With Dumbbells at Home
Track StrengthLog’s Home Chest Workout in the StrengthLog App
If you follow this chest routine consistently, you’re sure to put on lean muscle mass and gain strength, as long as you keep challenging your muscles. The key to fast and consistent gains is progressive overload: you increase the weight you use in your training or do more reps over time.
It’s almost impossible to keep track of your progress without a workout log. StrengthLog is 100% free to download and use as a workout tracker and general strength training app. All the basic functionality is free – forever.
You’ll also find a bunch of training programs and workouts in the app. Many are free, but our more advanced programs and workouts (such as this one) are for premium users only.
Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.
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Good luck with your training!
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- PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50601. What is an attractive body? Using an interactive 3D program to create the ideal body for you and your partner.
- PLoS One. 2016; 11(6): e0156722. The Body and the Beautiful: Health, Attractiveness and Body Composition in Men’s and Women’s Bodies.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: January 2015 – Volume 29 – Issue 1 – p 246-253. Bench Press and Push-up at Comparable Levels of Muscle Activity Results in Similar Strength Gains.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: July 2016 – Volume 30 – Issue 7 – p 1805-1812. Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men.
- J Sports Sci Med. 2020 Jun; 19(2): 289–297. Push-Ups vs. Bench Press Differences in Repetitions and Muscle Activation between Sexes.
- Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness. Volume 15, Issue 1, June 2017, Pages 37-42. Low-load bench press and push-up induce similar muscle hypertrophy and strength gain.
- J Hum Kinet. 2022 Feb 10;81:199-210. A Systematic Review of The Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Muscle Hypertrophy.
- International Journal of Strength and Conditioning, Vol 1 No 1 (2021). Resistance Training Recommendations to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy in an Athletic Population: Position Stand of the IUSCA.