A typical dilemma among people who work out at home is how many chest exercises they should include in their chest routine. We don’t want to undertrain and also overtrain the chest muscles. Both have adverse effects on development.
Usually, it’s recommended to have 1-3 exercises for people lifting weights doing, for instance, barbell bench press. But, chest workout at home without weights is a different thing since we do bodyweight exercises such as push-ups. These moves are compound ones that engage more than one muscle, so they aren’t as isolation exercises like the ones with weights. Because of that, we can do more repetitions. Hence, the logic says we can do more types of chest exercises since the fibers don’t get tired so fast, and maybe they recover more quickly from the workout.
Considering these facts, I recommend having 2-4 exercises per workout if we train 2-3 times a week with a minimum of 1-day rest between.
However, the number of exercises to include in a home chest training depends on several factors such as:
- Your fitness level.
- The weight of the person.
- The goal – if we want to build endurance, strength, mass, or lean chest.
- How comprehensive workout for chest we want to have.
- Progressive training in mind.
Read on to find the answers to all the factors above.
Number of Exercises for Beginners to Advanced
Beginners are at the stage when they should get used to the working out. Their chest muscles and nervous system aren’t ready yet for hard training. They should be careful to avoid overtraining. Hence, 1-2 types of exercises per workout 1-2 per week for a few months will do. That is the time to learn the basics.
Somebody with better than average physique, because of another sporting background, can have 2-3 types of exercises 1-3 times a week.
Advanced level people with weight training background can do 3-4 exercises per week 2-3 times a week. That was true for me since I had lift weights for some years when I switched to bodyweight conditioning at home. However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought since I was used to chest press with low repetitions, and doing 20-30 push-ups killed me all the time. 🙂 I had power, but the muscle endurance was low.
How heavy we are matters!
It’s evident that the heavier we are, the harder to perform push-ups and other bodyweight exercises. We can do fewer reps since far more load is put on the pecs. While a light guy can do 4×30 push-ups with ease, for a big man over 200 lb, it needs time to reach such high reps.
To reach those rep ranges and to give enough load with every workout for the pecs, we should increase the number of sets up 4-6. This way, we get the number of reps that are required for muscle growth. Int his case, 2-3 exercises will do as well.
Power, endurance, or definition – What do you want?
Your goal also influences your program.
If you want to build power and muscle mass, you should do harder chest exercises, for example, decline, uneven, one-arm, or weighted push-ups. Moves that are difficult so you can perform fewer reps sometimes under 10. 2-3 chest exercises with 3-4 sets are recommended for a bigger chest.
The other case is when we want to increase muscle endurance. To increase the stamina, you need to increase the rep range to over 20. But, such a high number of repetitions sucks the energy, so you won’t be able to do many sets or exercises. If endurance is your goal, go with 1-2 activities with 2-3 sets 2-3 times week (but do high reps).
What if you want to define your chest? Then, you need to more types of exercises 3-5 to target the different parts of the pecs. And this is our next topic.
How to get total chest training at home?
The chest includes two muscles the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. That is why we call it pecs. That means there is no outer, inner, lower, or upper chest muscles. Each of those areas is the part of the pectoralis.
However, we can target chest areas with different exercises.
- The upper chest can be targeted with decline exercises such as decline push-ups, which is an alternative decline bench press. For these movements, you need to put your feet on an elevated object.
- The lower chest can be targeted with incline moves such as incline push-ups, which is an alternative to incline bench press. For these exercises, you need to place your hands on an elevated thing.
- We can target the inner chest with close grip presses such as diamond push-ups.
- We can focus on the outer chest with wide grip presses such as wide push-ups.
Of course, because the chest virtually includes two muscle groups, no matter which exercise you do, each part of the chest is engaged.
If you want to do a full chest workout at home without equipment to target every part, you should include 4-6 types of exercises.
Test yourself and keep the progression
If you read the previous tips, I’m sure now you have a vision about your home chest day. But it’s vital to test your abilities. We are willing to under and overestimate our capabilities. That happened to me when I turned to calisthenics from muscle building at the gym. I created my home chest workout plan without examining myself, and I was disappointed when I could do only half of it. 🙂
Another tip. No matter if you workout at home or in the gym, you shouldn’t forget the progressive overload. In a nutshell, it means that from time to time, you challenge yourself and modify your program to give a new impact for the chest muscles to which they need to adapt. That can be increasing the rep range, sets, switch to a more advanced chest exercise, or increase the intensity.
What chest exercises can I do at home?
There is an endless number of push-up variations at any level and for goal, if you don’t want to use weights. Also, you can do a chest training at home with dumbbells if you have no weight bench. I have a detailed guide on how to build a chest at home here.
Can I do chest workout every day?
I don’t recommend it. Fibers need time to recover, and overtraining has a contrary effect on performance. Having strength training for the same muscle group 1-3 times a week is enough. It’s much better to train the other muscles of the lower and upper body instead.
As you can see from above, in most cases, 2-3 chest exercises are enough for home. There is no need to do more since the chest includes only two muscles. Instead, train the other body parts.