Build Muscle Without Weights
And yes, you read that right: you CAN build more muscle without the use of weights, machines, or even the gym full stop.
“But how, Jake?”
Well, funny you say that, my friend, as you certainly aren’t the first to ask that same question.
Now, as bodyweight training is more complex to understand than weight training, it can be a lot more difficult at first to actually build muscle through the resistance of your own bodyweight. (I certainly had this issue for a good few months!)
HOWEVER – if you read my last article I posted in regards to ‘rapid fat loss’, you’ll know that there’s a saying I like to try and engrave in that brain of yours: “Once you understand the principles, application is easy.“
With that said – here are the 3 main principles when it comes to building muscle with Calisthenics, so that as a result, you yourself can apply these strategies in order for you to pack on slabs of muscle in record breaking time:
This is the gradual increase in workload placed upon the muscles overtime.
With weights and machines, one form of progressive overload is by simply adding weight to the bar, or by lifting heavier dumbbells, etc. With bodyweight training however, our method of ‘adding weight’ is by decreasing leverage.
When we place our body in a mechanical disadvantage, our muscle fibres need to grow stronger in order to adapt to the greater load placed upon them (i.e. a one arm push up is a form of decreasing leverage relative to regular push ups; and is a lot more challenging too!).
And this leads me to the second principle…
When we’re performing an exercise, our muscle fibres contract against a resistance (and with bodyweight training, our bodyweight is the resistance!).
With that said, in order for our muscle fibres to grow bigger and stronger, the resistance needs to increase as well. It is not a matter of doing hundreds of rounds of sit ups and push ups, it is a matter of making the given exercise harder in order to increase the resistance so that we can continue building stronger muscle tissues.
So with the goal of building strength and mass, you should be looking to increase the intensity/resistance of an exercise once you can do several repetitions comfortably.
An example being: once you can do 10 strict pull ups, bring your hands in close together by performing close grip pull ups (as bringing your hands closer to your centre of mass is going to increase the resistance and intensity of your pull ups!).
FOCUS ON MOVEMENTS RATHER THAN MUSCLES
I always wondered why 10 chin ups grew my biceps faster than 10 minutes of bicep curls, but then the reasoning behind my different approach become clear: compound exercises are superior for gaining strength and muscle.This is because multi-joint full body exercises such as push ups, pull ups, and squats require you to recruit multiple muscle fibres at once, meaning it is easier to overcome the resistance and generate a larger + more powerful force. And do you know what that means? MORE GAINS, BABY!
Isolation based exercises do have their place (especially for both treating and preventing injuries), but if you truly want to maximise your gains with Calisthenics, you gotta put in the extra work by doing the harder and more challenging exercises, and as a result, your compound exercises are going to produce the most superior results!
I hope this helps, and I hope the action you take following this will give you that extra boost required to get in those extra gains!
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