With the popularity of TV series such as Game of Thrones and Vikings, you may be thinking if it was actually possible for men living in that ancient period to get those ripped chest muscles. These bare-chested heroes have upper bodies that would put any bodybuilder to shame.  

While there were no gyms or fitness clubs – the popular training ground during that time was the great outdoors. Vikings and warriors constantly train to build their bodies to be ready for any battle. Those enviable chest muscles were built for strength rather than for aesthetics.

If your goal is to get that enviable godly looking chest, then you may be surprised to know that all you need is this very flexible calisthenics chest workout to build mass. No, you don’t need to sign up in an expensive bodybuilding gym or to purchase a weightlifting set to start. This workout is composed of three body weight exercises that are classically proven to develop your chest muscles. What’s great about these exercises is that not only do they target your chest but also tones other large muscle groups in your body.

While these are body weight exercises, you will need calisthenics equipment to perform two of these exercises. You will need a Dips Station and Gymnastic Rings. If you already have an access to a gym, you should be able to find these easily. If you prefer to workout at home, these are easily available in equipment stores and online at a very reasonable cost.

Photo of Man With Muscular Body

Source: Pexels

Dip

The Dip is first on the list because it is the best exercise to developing a massive chest. The idea is to raise yourself using your upper body strength. This is a great upper body workout that builds up mass and add definition to your chest. It also targets your shoulder muscles.

To perform dips, you would need parallel bars or a straight horizontal bar. If you’ve never done a dip before, start with the standard dip on parallel bars.

Man In Black T-shirt Doing Exercise

Source: Pexels

How to perform a Standard Dip:

  • First, grab the parallel bars and jump up, straighten your arms
  • Lower your body by bending your arms while you’re leaning forward
  • Dip down until your shoulders are below your elbows
  • Lift your body up by straightening your arms
  • Lock your elbows at the top

This video will show you how to perform a dip correctly.

https://youtu.be/OKQd40AGP5w

Do 3 sets of these exercises with 4-15 repetitions.

Once you master the basics, you can proceed to different dip variations to increase the intensity. Here is a Dip Progression guide that can help you achieve that muscly chest.

Push Up

The push up is an exercise that not only strengthens your chest but also engages your body from top to bottom. This is a classic because everyone knows how it looks like. Even children in gym class are being taught how to do a push up. However, many people are still unable to do a push up correctly. In fact, there are many videos online that show even professional fitness trainers failing to do a push up correctly. What’s worse is when you see people doing push up variations with the wrong form.

Man Push-up on White FloorSource: Pexels

A beginner should start with a Standard Push Up and progress from there. Do not attempt any fancy push up variation without being 100% sure your Standard Push Up is topnotch. This is important because it protects you from hurting yourself or damaging your physique.

How to do a proper standard push up:

  • Place your hands shoulder width apart on the floor. Make sure the arms are straight.
  • The upper back must be slightly rounded. Keep the abs tight.
  • Keep the legs straight and close together with the toes resting on the floor
  • From this position lower your body down by bending the elbows to more than 90 degrees till the body is two inches above and parallel to the floor. The elbows stay close to the body.
  • Come to initial position by tensing the triceps and chest muscles.
  • Keep low back and abs tight throughout the movement.

Do 3 sets of these exercises with 4-15 repetitions.

This video will show you how to perform a push up correctly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IODxDxX7oi4

Depending on your personal capability, you can adjust the push up until you feel you have enough strength to progress. Refer to this list of Push Up Variations which can spice up your chest workout. You will find that just by changing the position of your hands or the level of your legs, you can already make the exercise easier or more challenging.

Again, the beauty of calisthenics lies on how flexible it is so you can adjust depending on your individual ability. This is a natural way to build up muscles without opening yourself to risk of injury.

Body weight Ring Fly

The Chest Fly is a great exercise to target your inner chest and the weighted cable machine at the gym is usually used to perform this exercise. The body weight version of this  exercise uses gymnastic rings and gravity to give you that sculpted chest. Aside from your chest, this exercise makes your arms and core stronger.

How to do a Body weight Ring Fly:

  • The rings should be about 12 inches above the floor
  • Grip the rings with each hand and assume a standard push up position. Your arms should be straight, palms facing each other
  • Next, spread your arms out to the side as if your “flying”
  • Return to your starting position

Do 3 sets of these exercises with 10-15 repetitions.

This video will show you how to perform a body weight ring fly correctly.

https://youtu.be/j-6ZEaGhjEA

Not everyone can do a body weight ring fly at first try. If you cannot master a standard push up yet then chances are this exercise will also be difficult for you. It is normal at first to struggle as you try to find your balance. If your arms are not strong enough, you will feel your arms shaking at first. You can avoid this by modifying the exercise and the level of the rings to your comfort level.

If this is something that you’ve never done before and you find the exercise difficult, you can start by having your knees on the ground, just like how you would do a modified push up. As your upper body gets stronger, you can assume the standard position with your legs stretched out in a standard push up position. If this becomes too easy for you, you can use a box or a bench to elevate your legs to increase the level of difficulty.

Adjusting the height of the rings will also make the exercise easier. The higher the rings, the easier the exercise. Alternatively, if you want to increase the intensity of the exercise, place the rings lower, closer to the floor until they are only about 6 inches above the ground.

Another way to increase the intensity of the exercise is to pause for 2 to 3 seconds at the bottom of the movement before going back up to your starting position. Holding yourself at this point makes the move a little more challenging.

Adopting the Right Form for A Calisthenics Chest Workout

As with any other calisthenics routine, this calisthenics chest workout will only be effective if you perform the exercises correctly. Mastering body weight exercises is always a tricky feat because they seem so simple to follow but very difficult to perfect.

When planning your chest workout routine, practice the basics first to make sure that you’re doing the exercises accurately. This will build a solid foundation that will prepare you to do more variations of these 3 exercises.  If you are disregarding the correct form, not only are you risking injury, you may not get the gains you are wanting to achieve.

How Often Should You Exercise?

You should ideally be aiming to do this workout 2 to 3 times a week, with rest days in between. This will allow you enough time to recover. Remember that muscles are built at rest!

Each exercise should be done in 3 sets. For the Dip and the Push Up, you should do at least 4 repetitions for each set to a maximum of 15 reps. For the Chest Fly, do at least 10 reps to a maximum of 15 reps for each set.

Your Calisthenics Chest Workout Plan should look like this:

Exercise Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Dips 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest
Push Ups 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

4-15 reps

Rest
Body weight Ring Fly 3 sets

10-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

10-15 reps

Rest 3 sets

10-15 reps

Rest

Scaling Up Your Calisthenics Chest Workout

The great thing about this calisthenics chest workout is that you can progress each of these exercises and apply different variations in order to increase the intensity or target different areas of your chest muscles. Once you perfect the basics, you can try out the variations to keep your routine fresh. Introducing a change in movement will also challenge your muscles.

If, however you feel that you are not ready to scale up, just stick to the same routine until you develop the required strength. Do not worry that you’re not progressing because as long as you keep moving forward, you will get stronger.

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