ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout

Training Tips

20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout

Reading Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2022-04-01


Building a bigger chest is one of the most popular fitness goals. There are many exercises that target the chest and lead to upper body gains. These include exercises beyond the traditional barbell bench press. The bench press is one of the most effective exercises, but other chest exercises can be just as beneficial.

Chest and Upper Body Training

There are many muscle groups that are neglected during training, but the chest is not one of them. As a matter of fact, chest workouts are often performed too much or are too intense. A workout plan created with effective exercises along with an efficient number of sets, reps, and weights sets you up for success without overtraining.

Continuing to increase the volume and intensity of your workouts (safely) helps you build bigger muscles. But can you continuously progress with just bodyweight exercises?

Using a variety of different exercises helps keep you engaged. This leads to efficient results. Bodyweight exercises can help you with the following:

  • Target stabilizer muscles

  • Improve mobility

  • Prevent injury

Exercises such as dips and push-ups are great for upper body strength, especially building the chest. Bodyweight exercise offers more functional movement training. It mimics daily living activities, which improve quality of life and strength. Bodyweight workouts also allow you to push yourself without overtraining as easily as when you lift weights. 

Chest and Upper Body Workout

This workout focuses primarily on chest and upper body exercises. You will be able to do these exercises at home, outside, or in the gym. You will need 20 minutes to complete the entire workout. 

The Warm-up

Time spent preparing the body for hard work and then easing it back to normal should be a part of every visit to the gym. Here’s a warm-up to get your muscles prepped for the workout:

#1 Overhead Reach

In a standing position, take one arm and reach over the top of the head. Stretch your arm to the opposite side of the body. Hold for 3 seconds and rotate to the other side. Perform for a total of 30 seconds. 

#2 Arm Swings

Stand straight up and begin making arm circles. Start with forward arm swings and switch to reverse arm swings. Perform 5 swings forward, then 5 swings backward. Complete for 30 seconds total. 

#3 Jumping Jacks

In an upright position, keep your legs together and arms to your side. Bend at your knees slightly and jump. As you jump, separate your legs to at least hip-width apart. At the same time, your arms move away from the body and over your head. Jump back to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds. 

The Workout

Time to focus on the main event. Be sure to adjust as needed for individual goals and abilities. 

#1 Dips

Find a firm surface or platform, which could be a couch, a stair step, or even a chair. Start by sitting on the surface with your arms to the side. Make sure your palms face down on the platform just outside of your hips. Slide your torso off the platform, push your legs out in front and keep your arms extended. Lower yourself down by bending at the elbow. When you reach a 90-degree angle in the arms, push yourself back up, straightening your arms.

Perform 3 sets of 15 reps or until failure. Rest for 15-30 seconds in between each set.

#2 Push-ups

Begin with your chest and stomach on the floor. Lift the body up in a push-up position. Your hands should be placed directly under the shoulders for support. Stay on your toes and keep your feet as close together as possible. Now, bend at your elbows lowering your body to the ground. Once you approach the ground, maintain tension, and push back up, extending your arms.

Perform 3 sets of 20 reps or until failure. Rest for 15-30 seconds in between each set. 

If you need to make push-ups more challenging, elevate your heels. If you need a less demanding modification, drop your knees to the ground or perform wall push-ups. 

#3 Pull-ups

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Start by hanging from any straight bar. With an overhand grip, pull your body up toward the bar. Bring your chest to the bar as you pull your elbows down and back. Lower yourself down slowly and repeat for 3 sets of 10 reps or until failure. Rest for 15-30 seconds in between each set.

If you need a modification for this exercise, use a band to help. If you do not have a band, perform negative pull-ups. Use a box, bench, or step to help you jump up to the bar. Then lower yourself down and repeat.  

#4 Stationary Lunge

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout, Stationary Lunge

Achieve a lunge position by stepping out in front with one leg. Then drop the back knee down to the ground. Stand back up, keeping your feet planted. Perform 10 reps on each leg and then switch. 

If you’d like to make this exercise more challenging, perform a plyometric lunge. This includes jumping up off the ground on each rep. Because it is a unilateral exercise, there is no rest period.

#5 Single Leg Glute Bridge

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout, Single Leg Glute Bridge

Find open space on the ground and lay flat on your back. Position one foot flat on the ground and the other extended off the ground. Keep the leg in the air in line with your opposite leg. Lift your hips as high as you can off the ground. Be sure to drive through your heels. Lower yourself back down to the ground and repeat. Perform 15 reps on each leg. 

To make this exercise easier, keep both feet planted on the ground. Because this is a unilateral exercise, there is no rest period.  

The Cool Down

The cool down is just as important as the warm-up. A five- to 10-minute cool down, consisting of light aerobic activity, helps the heart gradually return to its resting rate and the body return to its resting temperature. 

#1 Seated Hamstring Stretch

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout, Seated Hamstring Stretch

Sit and extend both legs out in front of your body. Pull one leg in and keep one leg fully extended. Reach for your toes with both hands and hold for 15 seconds. Then repeat on the opposite leg.

#2 World’s Greatest Stretch

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, 20-Minute Bodyweight Chest and Upper Body Workout, World's Greatest Stretch

Achieve a lunge position. Whichever leg is in front, drop the same side hand down to the ground. Rotate your body and opposite arm up towards the ceiling. Look up as high as you can and hold for 15 seconds on each side.

#3 Child’s Pose

Kneel on the floor and keep your feet together. Bring your torso to the ground and allow your body to drop between your knees. Extend your arms away from your body and keep your palms face down. Relax your shoulders and hold for 30 seconds. 

Expand Your Workout

Are you looking to take your bodyweight workouts to the next level? Check out these blogs: 

Ever wish you could get paid to work out? Then becoming a personal trainer may be right for you. But be sure you get the right certification. ISSA will get you certified in just weeks and set you up for success with our job guarantee. Check out our personal trainer certification programs.

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