The Complete Guide to Build Muscle without Weights or Equipments

3 Muscle Building questions I frequently get:

  • Can you build muscle without weights?
  • Do bodyweight exercises or calisthenics build muscle?
  • Can you build muscle at home?

YES, yes and yes! And I am going to show you how to build muscle mass without weights using bodyweight exercises in your home without going to gym in as little as 4 weeks.

Unleash the Power of Bodyweight Bodybuilding to Build Muscle Without Weights!

Although barbell and dumbbell Training has been the cornerstone of my muscle transformation, I have used bodyweight and isometric training exclusively for weeks together with excellent results.

I have improvised them more and now use them with my clients with great muscle gains. Gym free training can be used to gain muscle at home, to maintain muscle and fitness during travelling or at times when you cannot visit the gym.

In this article I will reveal everything I know about building muscle mass without weights. No barbells, dumbbells or gym equipment here. Lets roll...

Inside This Article:


The 3 Benefits of Bodyweight Training

Apart from being versatile, simple and anytime, anywhere exercises, bodyweight training or calisthenics offer unique advantages for muscle builders.

Calisthenics:

  1. Markedly improve your joint flexibility
  2. Builds strength that is easily transferred to sports or bodybuilding and
  3. Builds functional muscle and strength which is the key to look younger

And the biggest advantage: You can Build Muscle without going to expensive gyms and in the comfort of your home. Beat the traffic, the sweaty gym machines and annoying gym-goers.

But can you build muscle mass without weights With bodyweight training alone? Lets find out...


The Muscle Experiment Program 

Mike Thiga, author of The Muscle Experiment Program gained 39 lbs of muscle mass without weights, without gym by using unique bodyweight exercises which he proves are superior to weight lifting exercises. Check out this free video to learn more.


The Truth about Building Muscle Without Weights

I have already answered this. Yes, you CAN build 10, 20 or more pounds of muscle with bodyweight training alone, but let me prove you scientifically that it works.

What builds muscle?


Tension = Growth!

The Language of Your Muscles in tension. And they do not care what provides that tension. It cannot differentiate if the tension is provided by barbells, dumbbells, gym machines or your own bodyweight. 

All your muscles care is the stress placed upon them. If the stress or tension is more than they can handle, they adapts by growing bigger {hypertrophy}. If the tension is manageable, they does not grow. If the stress/tension is ever-decreasing, then they weaken and become small {atrophy}.

So provide enough tension and your muscles have to grow, provided nutrition is taken care of.

How to create this tension without weights?

Using your bodyweight!

Bodyweight + Isometric training combination creates intense muscle tension which at times can surpass tension generated with weights!

If you know the best bodyweight exercises, how to do them the muscle building way and progress incrementally, then bodyweight exercises or calisthenics PLUS Isometrics combo can be a real muscle builder. Mike Thiga and others have shown it.

So here’s the Key,

Provide optimal muscle tension using the best bodyweight and isometric exercises in a planned progression and you will build muscle mass without weights”.


Bodyweight Training as a Strength tool

There is a misconception that Bodyweight Exercises will make you strong ONLY. Let me clarify.

  • If you apply the muscle building principles to bodyweight training, you WILL Build muscle mass. 

  • If you apply pure strength training principles, then you will build only raw strength.

I call it working your brain system vs muscular system. The first makes you stronger and the second makes you muscular.

How do you work the muscular system using bodyweight exercises? By following the 6 principles below...


6 Bodyweight Principles to Build Muscle

Same Tool, Different Result!

Unless you weigh 300 pounds, bodyweight training will become easier very quickly. And this seems to be a drawback of calisthenics, but there is a way to see continued progress.

Skinny Powerful: You can find someone like Professor Paulinetti who can demonstrate amazing strength, stamina & flexibility and yet pack very little muscle. Many can surprise you with feats like handstands and effortless hand-balancing but gain very little weight doing so.

Big and Powerful: On the other side you will see bodybuilders who added pounds of muscle mass with bodyweight training.

Sounds confusing? Its not actually.

This just proves that the training technique and not the exercises alone will dictate if you will build muscle or just strength. Its how you do it, that makes the difference.

Here are 6 principles you should follow to build muscle with bodyweight exercises.

  1. Principle one: Work the Reps
  2. Principle Two: Use compound moves for faster gains
  3. Principle Three: Make every exercise more challenging
  4. Principle Four: Add volume with Supersets
  5. Principle Five: Eat to Grow and supplement wisely
  6. Principle Six: Stay Positive, sleep well and Persist

1. Work the Reps

The first few reps are for strength, the last few reps are for muscle growth.

As you learnt in the Science of Building Muscle, muscle growth happens due to two things: High tension and plenty of metabolic stress.

Low reps {less than 5} work your nervous system. They do not create enough metabolic stress to stimulate muscle growth. You get Naim Süleymanoğlu body.

Moderate reps in the range of 6 to 20 are perfect for building muscles with bodyweight exercises.

If you cannot do more than 6 reps, then work hard on technique to add reps. If you can easily do 20 reps, then add loads or advanced variations to make exercises difficult.

Stay in the 6 - 20 rep zone but add more sets, preferably 3 -5 sets.


2. Use Multi-joint, Compound Moves for Max Muscle

The more muscles you use, the more anabolic stress. Compound exercises like push ups, pull ups and squats {The Big 3} create maximum hormone release and should form the bedrock of your training.

Add tough variations like one arm pushups, one leg squats and handstand pushups with added loads to make them super effective for mass gains.


3. Make every exercise more challenging

One Arm Push Ups offer big challenge

This adds to the previous tip. You cannot sustain consistent muscle gains unless you make your muscles work hard, hard, hard. If the exercise gets easier, your body stops growing. So make them harder.

3 Ways to make exercises harder:

  • Add more loads and master tougher versions of the exercises. Add bags,sandbags or dumbbells.
  • Add One leg or one arm training.
  • Adding loads in the form of weighted bags, weighted vests and add poor leverage exercises {very tough} is another great way.

4. Add Volume with Supersets

More Sets = More Metabolic Stress = More Muscle Growth

Once exercises get easier, which they will, add supersets. High volume training {meaning more reps and sets} is the key to muscle growth and supersets are great way of adding volume.

Here’s an example. Perform push ups and squats back to back without rest. Or do pull ups with squats/deadlifts alternatively without rest.

This adds considerable volume while you rest muscles optimally.


5. Eat to Grow and Supplement wisely

This goes without saying. If you want to grow fast, you need to feed your muscles. I cover Muscle Building Nutrition here. Create a personalised eating plan using the tips there.

Also use these proven muscle building supplements for faster gains. Pay special attention to post-workout nutrition.


6. Stay positive, sleep well and Persist

Building Muscle is tough but worth every ounce.

Belief is the first requirement of success. Believe in your ability to create your dream body, believe that bodyweight training will help you get there and believe that you can do it fast.

Get enough sleep as it is the key to healthy, vitality and muscle repair & growth.

Finally persist. Never give up. Its just a matter of learning the right training techniques, applying them for 4-6 weeks and make changes to continue to grow.

To quote Winston Churchill, "Never give up. Never, ever give up."

All excited? Its time to learn the 2 key determinants necessary for bodyweight training success.


Two Critical Bodyweight Training Secrets

Arthur Saxon lifting 448 labs overhead. Classic example of mind-muscle connection.

Old timers like Arthur Saxon, Charles Atlas, Eugene Sandow and Jack Lalanne knew the power of mind muscle connection.

What else explains their amazing power to bring absolute strength when needed? They had mastered mind-muscle relationship and built their bodies with pure bodyweight training.

For your muscle building success too, you need two keys:

  1. Generate Mind-muscle tension connection and
  2. Use Isometrics for maximal effect

4 Tips to Build Stronger Mind-Muscle Connection

  • Always begin with the muscle being targeted.
  • Keep your entire body rigid, as tight as possible to generate power.
  • Crush the ground or the bar as if trying o grab it during push ups or pull ups
  • Visualise the perfect rep for 1-2 seconds before beginning any more.

How to Use Isometrics with Calisthenics

Isometric Power Revolution

Isometric simply means holding a weight without moving it. With bodyweight training, you can use isometrics at peak contractions. It is my little insider secret for faster gains.

  • During push ups, hold the top position and squeeze the pecs for 1-2 seconds. In pull ups, squeeze your lats as if crushing them at the top of the movement.

  • Holding the weight at peak contractions increases muscle tensions and as you know tension means muscle growth.

  • Try holding positions for 1-2 seconds on every exercise you perform, at least for 1-2 sets every workout. The difference will be immediately noticeable.

With that, its time to discover the 10 best bodyweight muscle building exercises...


10 Best Bodyweight Exercises to Build Muscle Mass

Here are the 10 best muscle building exercises. Use the first 4 for maximum mass and add the other 6 to build a complete physique.


1. Pull Ups and Chin Ups

Pull Ups: Build your arms, back and upper body in one single move with pull ups and chin ups.

Add weighted chins, one arm chins and swaggered chin ups for total upper body development.

Muscle Electromyographic has proven chin ups to be the best biceps muscle builder too. 


2. Push Ups Exercise

bodyweight-push-ups

Push Ups: Push Ups help build strong chest and shoulder muscles while giving your triceps a very good workout.

Add variations like incline, decline, jackknife, Hindu and One arm push ups for added variety. Use weighted push ups for progression.


3. Bodyweight Squats

bodyweight-squats

Squats: Bodyweight squats are the foundation of all leg training. They work your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and even your trunk muscles.

Once you master the classic squat, move onto hindu, sissy, box, jump and one legged ones for variety and growth.


4. Deadlifts

bodyweight-deadlifts

Deadlifts: Want to build muscular hamstrings, glutes and lower back? Enter one legged squat, the elder brother of conventional dead which are too easy. Add weighted bag on your back and progress. They challenge your balance and stability.


5. Back Bridge

Back Bridge: It is another total body tension exercise which targets your arms, back and hamstring muscles. its an advanced exercises that requires balance, flexibility and stability.


6. Handstands

Handstands or Handstand Pushups: I have included them separately as they will feel a completely different exercise. They are the squats for upper body, holding your entire bodyweight on your shoulders. Its an advanced exercise and should be treated likewise.


7. Sit Ups and Leg Raises

Sit Ups and Leg Raises: You are as strong as your core and its called core/mid-section and not just abs. They are a compound move, unlike crunches and provide you total core training. add them and see how all your other lifts go up.


8. Calf Raises

Calf Raises: Although squats worth calves, you need targeted training for calf muscles to make them stand out, on the sports ground and on the beach. Door calf raises with heavy bag on your bag for reps builds them.


9. Isometric Curls

Isometric Curls: This is an excellent arm muscle builder. Tense your muscles as if you are holding a very heavy weight. act and it shall feel that way. I always use them at the top portion of pull ups by holding my weight for 1-2 seconds at the peak contraction state. Your arms just pump up and grow bigger.


10. Plank Exercise

Plank Exercise: Another exercise for your core which includes abs, lower back and obliques is the plank. You can do elbow plank, side plank or one arm plank for variety.


11. Bonus Exercise: HIIT

Sprints or HIIT for lean muscle building: Bodyweight training build excellent endurance or stamina. But if you have a tire around your midsection, add 10-20 minutes of high intensity interval training to lose fat faster.


3 Muscle Building Workouts Without Weights

Whatever your level of conditioning, here are 3 effective muscle building workouts without weights. Workout One is a general fitness and conditioning one to build your stamina/strength. workouts 2 and 3 are designed to pack on mass.


Muscle Building Programs to Build Muscle Without Weights

If you are serious about bodyweight muscle building, then try the two programs below. I highly recommend them.


Beyond Calisthenics

I use my muscle building toolbox to build muscle mass.

Neither I am married either to weights {be it barbells, dumbbells or kettle bells} or to bodyweight training. Nor I exclusively use bodybuilding or strength training methods. Why?

Because I use them as tools to get my dream body and I see them that way only.

Why limit yourself to any one form of training? Every training method has its own unique benefits, challenges your body differently and create newer results.

Love the results, not the methods. You will fare better, I promise.

So add barbell, dumbbell and kettle bell training for variety. Try ring training, crossfit, eccentrics, plyometrics and band training for cross-training and provide new stimulus to your body to grow.


Summary

  1. Bodyweight Training is an excellent way to build muscle without weights.
  2. Ensure you don't turn it into another fitness program. Make it a muscle building program with the secrets you learnt above.
  3. Add Isometric exercises to maximise muscle tension and hence muscle growth.
  4. Master the basic moves first, then add advanced variations to keep growing.
  5. Develop an excellent mind-muscle connection to tense muscles as hard as possible. Add loads.

Its time to build some serious muscle and strength now.

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