We all know building muscle is tough. Building muscle with bodyweight exercises is even tougher since you don’t have access to hundreds of different exercises and variations, nor do you have an easy way to increase the load of an exercise.
The following 6 muscle building techniques will help you overcome these two factors and pack on muscle with bodyweight-only movements:
Muscle Building Technique #1: Supersetting
If you read my site regularly, then you know how much I love supersets. If you’ve stopped seeing results from your mass building workouts, then just take two exercises and perform them back to back with little to no rest in between each set.
A sample superset would be to alternate between standard pushups and close-grip chinups. Ideally, you want to choose two exercises that train opposing muscle groups (such as back and chest).
However, you can also form supersets that train the same muscle group back to back if you’re trying to bring up a particular muscle group. For example, for your triceps you can do a set of Tricep Blasters followed immediately by Isolated Tricep Pushups.
Muscle Building Technique #2: Speed Reduction
I usually train super fast. However, after I tried Mike Thiga’s bodyweight muscle building workouts which involve slowing down the speed of each repetition, I was convinced that slowing rep speed works. This technique made the workout TWICE as hard. I always assumed that the faster the workout, the higher the intensity.
But I was wrong. Your heart rate will be going crazy. You will be sweating hard. And if you continue in this manner, you will see results. If you don’t see results with reducing the speed of a movement, then a) you’re not using challenging movements or b) you’re not eating enough.
Reducing the speed of the movement places great stress on a muscle, hence increasing its TUT (Time Under Tension) I’ve written about Time Under Tension before (click here to learn more about TUT).
Static holds work in the same way the reducing the speed of a movement does: it increases its TUT. The only thing is that I find static hold workouts really boring.
I’ve seen workouts before where all you do is static holds. I hate it. Mike Thiga’s approach is to perform static holds at the end of a movement, or after 2-3 regular work sets.
For example, lets assume you are doing pullups. Perform 2 sets of pullups as a regular set. Rest, and on your last set, pull yourself up to the bar, and hold that top position for 30 seconds.
Muscle Building Technique #4: Consistency
This isn’t exacly a technique you implement into your workout, however it is worth mentioning. In fact it is probably the most important thing in your progress.
If you do not regularly train, then you’ll never see results. It really is simple as that. You can be doing the craziest things with your workouts, but if you keep changing them up, or skipping workouts, those crazy workouts will be meaningless.
Don’t worry, I’ve experienced the same things. However, it helps to find something that motivates you. I’ve used a few techniques that help me stay on course. (Click here to learn about my motivation techniques).
Muscle Building Technique #5: Switching Hand Positions/Angles
Simply switching a hand position makes a huge difference in the difficulty of the movement. Take pushups for example. The closer your hands, the more difficult the movement.
The same can be said for your legs. The more elevated your legs are, the more difficult the movement. The toughest pushup variation is the planche pushup, where your legs are completely off the ground.
I salute anyone who can perform a planche pushup. These guys have tremendous upper body strength and mass. Strive to continually make your exercise more difficult in this manner.
Volume Training is simply increasing the volume (sets and reps) of a movement. At the end of Mike Thiga’s program you will dramatically increase the volume of your workouts for a brief moment.
This is just another way to shock your body into growth. You will be doing so much work, then your body has not choice but to adapt to the higher workload.
But, volume training can be dangerous. You see all those people in the gym training for 2-3 hours at a time? Well, they’ve taken volume training way too far.
There you have it. Start implementing this techniques one by one and you’ll start to see results immediately. For a complete, 12-month (yes, that’s right – 12 MONTHS!) training program designed to help you pack on muscle mass with bodyweight training only, check out Mike Thiga’s Muscle Experiment.