When you train without equipment, you are quickly limited in the choice of exercises. It is even almost impossible to train certain muscle groups, such as the back, without a minimum of equipment.
As for the pecs, it’s easier thanks to the most famous exercise: push-ups! Beyond their practical side – since they can be done anywhere – the push-ups have the advantage of having variants allowing to work the different parts of the pecs.
1. Classic push-ups
It’s push-ups as you know them… Here are some details for a good execution:
- Get into a plank position with your hands spread slightly wider than your shoulders and your feet close together or slightly apart.
- Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your body, and lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor.
- Push through your arms to return to the starting position, while being fully aware of contracting your pecs.
Our advice : don’t go too fast on the execution tempo. During the eccentric phase (descent) slow down to control the movement. Be more explosive on the other hand on the thrust (or concentric phase). This will allow you to gain strength. We often tend to focus only on the load in bodybuilding, and not enough on the execution time.
It is a relatively simple movement, but it is possible to have a bad execution, which could in particular limit the work of the pectorals, in favor of other muscles like the arms and the shoulders.
And if the exercise is too hard, 2 solutions to reduce the weight supported by your arms and make the movement easier:
- Push-ups on the knees
- Incline push-ups (arms higher than feet)
2. Elevated push-ups (declined)
First variant of the pumps, they will allow to accentuate the work at the level of the top of the pecs. The movement and position of the hands are the same as for classic push-ups, but you will place your feet on a surface higher than the ground (for example a bench or a chair) in order to modify your inclination.
This variation increases the intensity of classic push-ups because it transfers more weight from the body to the hands and arms… You must therefore already have a good command of classic push-ups to move on to elevated push-ups.
Our advice : Keep your body aligned and as tight as possible during the descent. It is preferable to have the buttocks slightly lifted, rather than arching the back.
3. Diamond (or triangle) push-ups
These are close-grip pushups. The name therefore comes from the position of the hands, which form a diamond / triangle. This variant will put a greater focus on the inside of the pecs, and will also solicit your triceps much more. Beginner practitioners may also have more difficulty performing this exercise due to weakness in the triceps.
Note that diamond push-ups can be more demanding on the wrists, due to the position of the hands. If you feel pain or discomfort, it is better to go back to a more classic variant or to increase the distance between the 2 hands a little.
4. Wide grip push-ups
In this variant, we will, unlike the previous one, have a grip a little wider than shoulder width. This position will accentuate the stretching of the pecs and the focus will be on the outer area of the pecs.
Note: They are reputed to be a little less effective for the hypertrophy of the pecs, because they will also put a lot of strain on the shoulders (posterior deltoid).
5. Other variants
The 4 types of push-ups mentioned are the most common, but the further you go, the more you may want and need to make the movement more complex. The first idea would be to add weight, with a weighted vest or by adding weight (if you train with 2).
But to continue with the “without equipment” theme, here is a non-exhaustive list of variants:
- Slam push-ups : Explosively come back up to the starting position, so as to perform a handspring during which you do a quick slap. Ideal for working on plyometrics: this exercise develops power, strength and coordination.
- Alternating shuffle push-ups : These push-ups involve moving sideways while performing the push-up. Start in a classic position, then move one hand outward (wide grip type) while keeping the other hand inward (neutral grip). You perform a push-up with each sideways movement, alternating sides to work in a balanced manner. This variation builds coordination, balance and upper body strength.
- Hindu push-ups : Begin in an inverted V position with hips/buttocks lifted and arms extended. Dip toward the floor by bending your elbows and lowering your chest, then lift your chest and hips by extending your arms. Return to the initial position by reversing the movement. Hindu push-ups improve flexibility, upper body and core strength.
- Spiderman push-ups : a variation that puts more strain on the oblique muscles and core. You start in a classic push-up position, but on the descent bring one knee towards the elbow on the same side. Return to the starting position on the way up, then repeat on the other side.