Top 9 Bodyweight Exercises for Mass and Strength

Bodyweight exercise are extremely convenient if you do not have access to equipment or can not afford a gym membership. Many people equate bodyweight exercises to being a fat loss tool, but they can also help you gain muscle mass.

The key to gaining lean muscle mass with bodyweight movements is to choose movements that recruit the most muscle possible. Make sure that the movements you choose are challenging.

Lets go over 9 of the best bodyweight muscle building movements:

#1 – Pike Handstand Pushups (Shoulders)

Starting position:

Place your feet on a raised surface and your upper body as shown in the first image. Let your arms be extended to the max. Your body should form an inverted “v” shape.


Lower yourself using your arms until your head touches the floor. Push yourself back up to the starting position.

#2 – Bar Dips (Chest)


Starting position:

Hang on the bar with your arms fully extended. Keep your legs bent and crossed together.


Slowly lower yourself until your elbows are at about 90 degrees. Focus on your chest muscles as you do this. Now push yourself back up to the top position, but don’t lock your elbows.

#3 – Close Grip Chinups (Biceps)

Starting position:

Grip the bar using an under-hand grip (palms facing you), with your hands about 6-8 inches apart.


Pull your body up (using bicep muscles only) until your upper chest touches the bar. Then slowly lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended. Repeat. Don’t swing your body for momentum.

#4 – Reverse Triceps Bench Dips


Starting position:

Have two firm chairs/benches parallel to each other and about 4 feet apart. Grasp the edge of one bench with your hands, fingers facing forward and your arms straight. Place the heels of your feet on the other bench.


Slowly lower your body by bending your arms (while rotating your elbows outward). Lower yourself down until your upper arms are at right angles with your forearms. Then push yourself back up using nothing but your tricep muscles. Squeeze your triceps hard at the top of each rep.

#5 – Compound Towel Pull-Ups (Lats)

Starting position:

First hang two strong towels over the bar as shown. Keep them approximately 30 cm (1ft) from each other. The towels should be hanging down at a length of about 5 inches.


Hold each towel firmly in your hands and lift your body using your biceps and your last only. Then slowly lower yourself down and repeat. As you get stronger, lower the towel more so as to make the exercise harder and more stimulating.

#6 – Hyper Extensions (Lower Back)


Starting position:

If you don’t have a place to secure your legs, find someone to hold down them down as you perform this exercise. Position yourself on an elevated bench such that your entire upper body is hanging down towards the floor. Cross your arms in front of you.


Raise your upper body until your waist and hips are fully extended. Then lower your body by bending until your lower back is fully flexed. Repeat.

#7 – Hanging Knee Raise (Abdominals)

Starting position:

Hang from chin-up bar as shown.


Kick your knees up towards your chin while rounding your back slightly during each movement. At the top of each rep, hold and squeeze your abs, then lower your legs in a controlled fashion. Do not use momentum to swing your legs up.


#8 – Lying Russian Twists (Obliques)


Starting position:

Sit on the floor with your knees bending at 90 degrees. Secure your feet by getting someone to hold them, or putting them under a solid surface. Lean back slightly. Hold your hands straight out in front of you.


Rotate your torso (not just your arms) to the right until your right arm is parallel to the floor. Hold for about 2 seconds and then perform the same movement for the left side. Repeat in a fairly rapid manner for the required number of reps.

NOTE: Your hips should stay in place when your upper body (torso) is moving.

#9 – Hindu Squats (Legs)

Start position:

Begin in a standing position, with your legs shoulder width apart and your feet pointed forward. Have your hands pulled to the sides of your chest.


Squat down with your legs, keeping your back straight. As you get to the bottom you should come up on to the balls of your feet, and your arms down behind you.

Now push yourself back up rapidly through balls of feet to the starting position while swinging your arms forward. Once you are at the top again, pull your hands back to the sides of your chest and repeat the cycle.

NOTE: The key difference between regular bodyweight squats and hindu squats is the motion of your hands and feet. Hindu squats are generally of greater physical benefit than the regular squats.

These 9 movements are great for muscle building. However, by themselves, they achieve nothing. You must piece them together into a solid workout plan. If you need a workout plan then look no further then Mike Thiga’s Muscle Experiment. Click here to learn more. 

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