Most muscle building workouts tend to focus on lifting weights to stimulate muscle growth, with the individual progressively increasing the weight mass over time, resulting in enhanced strength and size.
Sure, this is the tried and tested way to build muscle, but it is not the only way.
This article is for people who are interested in building muscle from the comfort of their own home, without stepping one foot inside a gym.
These techniques will be great for people who are too busy to go to the gym, want to save money on gym membership, or just want an alternative form of exercise when away on holiday or a business trip with no access to a gym.
Instead of you going to the gym, the gym will come to you.
Your body will become the gym!
Supercharged Bodyweight Exercises
Building muscle without weights involves more than just doing push-ups and sit-ups over and over again. But there is no rocket science involved.
You simply adapt the basic bodyweight exercises for the purposes of muscle growth. I am talking about the old classics: push-ups, dips, pull-ups, sit-ups and squats.
Now, doing several sets of these exercises is simply not going to cut it. But with a few select tweaks, you will be a lean mean, bodyweight machine in no time.
Here are 5 ways to supercharge these old time bodyweight classics to build muscle:
1. Keep it slow, bro
To make up for the lack of resistance, you need to slow the bodyweight exercises right down.
Performing a high number of reputations of these exercises at their typical speed will help improve your muscular endurance, but not size.
To increase size by lifting weights you lift heavy weights, and a slow speed, for a low number of reps. The same applies to a bodyweight workout, but to makeup for the lack of resistance, you will really need to slow these exercises down.
So how slow are we talking here? Slow enough to reach failure after 6-8 reps.
So for a push-up that might mean 10 – 15 seconds.
So around 20 – 30 seconds per full push-up.
As you improve, make your reps slower and slower so that you still reach failures within 6-8 reps. This is the equivalent of increasing the weights you lift at the gym.
2. Flex those pecs
Because bodyweight exercises done in their normal way are easier than lifting weights, you need to do everything that you can to make them harder.
A great way to do so is to make sure that you are flexing your muscles before, during and after the exercise.
Before the exercise, flex the muscles that you are about to workout. This will be kind of like a bodybuilding competition type pose. Yep, you might look a bit silly, but no-one is watching so give your best Arnie impression. Or Hulk Hogan, who does it for you.
This flexing of the muscles before the exercise, pre-exhausts the muscles. In other words it tires out your muscles before you do the exercise to make it even more intense.
Concentrate on flexing the muscle all the way through the exercises, and give an extra special "squeeze" to the muscles during the moment of full muscle contraction.
And when you have finished the exercise, give it your best Arnie (or Hulk) impression once again.
3. Reduce rest period between sets
To really make things a challenge, work on reducing your resting period between exercises.
When you start off, you may aim for around 60 to 90 seconds of rest between sets. Progressively work at reducing this, so that for the second set you rest for just 45 seconds, and then for just 30 seconds.
Another popular approach is to do a superset type bodyweight workout where you perform a set of say push-ups, and then immediately go onto do a set of squats without rest, and then onto a set of dips, and then a set of pull- ups etc.
Only once you have done one complete round of this circuit, can you then rest.
Building muscle without weights is not complicated and is not much different to building muscle with weights.
You just need to make a couple of small changes in order to make the bodyweight exercises as hard as possible to make for lack of resistance. You will still be stimulating those muscle fibers and promoting muscle growth.
Make sure that for each exercise of your bodyweight workout, you integrate the 3 techniques just discussed.
If you are doing it properly, you will be giving yourself the workout of a lifetime.
To really see long term gains with a home workout you need to have a carefully designed bodyweight workout in place. Read below for a recommended bodyweight home workout.