If you think of training to build muscle, then you’ll probably get a mental image of hulk-like bodybuilders crowded around hoards of barbells, dumbbells, and resistance machines. Many people are under the impression that to build muscle, you need lots of fancy equipment, and tonnes of weights, but this isn’t the case at all. It’s possible to build muscle mass using one workout tool that is often extremely underrated – your own bodyweight.
Squats – As many reps as you can in 45 seconds
Alternate Lunges – 15 repetitions per leg
Push Ups – 15 repetitions
Chin-Ups – 10 repetitions
Dips – 10 repetitions
Reverse Crunches – 15 repetitions
The squats, lunges, pushups and reverse crunches all require no equipment. For the chin-ups and dips, you’ll either need chin-up and dip bars, a set of gymnastic rings or a suspension trainer. Do this workout in a circuit style, with no rest in between exercises, and two minute rests between rounds. Repeat it four times.
To start with, you’ll see results doing this routine just three times per week. Try to do your workouts on alternate days if possible, so that your muscles get a chance to rest between sessions.
This workout will only be challenging to you for so long. After a while, you’ll begin to find it easier, and won’t get as many benefits from it. When this happens, it’s vital that you step it up a gear, to keep reaping the rewards of bodyweight training.
The simplest way to make it harder is to increase the number of rounds you do, and decrease your rest times. So instead of four rounds with two minute rests in between each, try six rounds with just a minute between each. You can also add extra repetitions. Aim to build up to doing 90 seconds of squats, 25 lunges per side, 25 pushups, 15 chin-ups, 15 dips and 25 reverse crunches.
Another way to increase the intensity is to change exercises, or add in extra ones where you see fit. For example, you could try clap pushups, or pushups with your feet on a bench, or do jump lunges instead of regular ones. This is only recommended for more advanced trainers though – beginners will be fine sticking to the exercises in the original circuit.
The other aspects of building mass are your diet and rest. To put on muscle, you need to eat a small excess of calories. To begin with, just add 500 calories per day to your current diet. If after two weeks you haven’t gained any weight, keep adding 250 calories per day once a week, until you’re building muscle. Your diet should be composed of high protein, nutrient dense foods – things like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
As for rest, the day off between each session will enable your muscles to fully recover, so provided you do this, get eight hours of good quality sleep every night, and try to minimise external stresses in your life, you can effectively build mass with bodyweight training.
This is a solid program to increase your pushups. But, you will still need a full-body program if you wish to really use bodyweight training to build muscle and get stronger. If you click on the next page, you will discover exactly the step-by-step program you need: