Bodybuilding With Bodyweight Exercises
It is possible to gain muscle using just bodyweight exercises. Here are some of the best solutions to build size without barbells and machines.
There are times in every trainer’s life when access to a gym is impossible. At these times, the choice is usually to do nothing. Others are looking for a temporary change of pace from the average free weight or machine routine. A further group is interested in training differently without sacrificing hypertrophy. For all three groups, bodyweight training is a great alternative.
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What Causes Hypertrophy?
It is the million-dollar question in sports science, and while many theories exist, nobody has the definitive answer. However, there are at least a pair of methods that are effective over several years.
- get stronger
- use enough volume and frequency
Unfortunately, many give up with bodyweight exercises, supposing that they are too easy to produce any real results on muscular size and strength. It is not the case. It is likely to use bodyweight exercises to work the body from head to foot and challenge even the most muscular athlete with a little thought. Given that there is no need to go to a gym to perform these workouts, it is easy to do them with enough volume and frequency in the home to grow.
The Best Bodyweight Exercises
Several fantastic bodybuilding exercises use bodyweight only but demand access to a minimum of equipment. Chins and dips would be great examples. But several excellent choices use no equipment at all. Here are five of the best.
- The pistol. It is a one-legged squat. It is performed by squatting down on one leg while holding the other out in front. Many big barbell squatters are unable to do even one repetition. Working up to sets of 10 or more in this exercise is enough stimulus for growth for anyone.
- The Hindu squat. There is a lot of concrete empirical evidence pointing to very high rep work for muscle growth in the legs, from the classic 20 rep squats up to timed sets of five minutes or more. Following up, a few sets of pistols with Hindu squats for high repetitions (300-500) will undoubtedly put some meat on the quadriceps.
- The handstand push-up. It is another challenging exercise that many will be unable to do. It involves doing a handstand against a wall, then pushing up and down like an inverted shoulder press.
- The press-up. This exercise is sometimes sneezed at for being too easy (often by those who don’t do it or can only manage half reps), but it is another sufficient exercise for growth and shoulder health and stability. There is also a whole series of changes possible by changing the positioning of hands and feet. Those who are stronger could again try one-armed press-ups, which are very difficult indeed. It is also the perfect opportunity to increase volume and frequency. Doing 100 press-ups a day for a couple of weeks will lead to some positive effects on hypertrophy.
- Door chins. Chins are one of the excellent bodyweight exercises, but it can seem impossible without a chinning bar. Using the top of a door as a pull-up bar gives a new twist to this exercise and makes it accessible anywhere.
Being gymless shouldn’t be seen as an enforced lay off from training. It is a perfect opportunity to try out new exercises and techniques to stimulate growth. Doing this exercise daily for two weeks will be a real shock to the system and lead to fresh hypertrophy.