The following is a guest article from bodyweight training expert Alain Gonzalez of MuscleMonsters.com.
3 Ways to Build Muscle With Bodyweight Workouts
by Alain Gonzalez, author, Bodyweight MASS
Regardless of what you’ve been told, bodyweight (or calisthenics) training is 100% a viable method for building muscle.
There’s only one problem ..
If we want to build muscle, we’ve got to progressively do more work. With weight training it’s as easy as adding 1-2 reps, an additional set, or just adding a few pounds to the bar.
With bodyweight training, on the other hand, you’ve got to get a bit more strategic.
Looking to build muscle with bodyweight workouts? Try including these amplifier sets to your training.
BTA #1 – Rep Tempo
This refers to the speed at which we perform each repetition.
There are 4 components to the rep tempo that each plays a vital role in the lift: Eccentric, Isometric, Concentric, and another Isometric.
Manipulating the rep tempo, although important but not critical when training with weights, could be a game changer for bodyweight trainees.
By increasing, for example, the eccentric portion of the lift, you are essentially keeping your muscles under tension for a longer period of time. More tension = more stress.
BTA #2 – Training Density
Increasing Training Density: Decreasing the timeframe it takes in order to complete a given workout (sets x reps).
So if a particular training session takes you 1 hour to complete, the goal should be to complete that same workout in less time (i.e. decreasing rest periods).
Let’s say that cranking out 200 reps in 60 minutes was challenging. To take things to the next level, decrease your work time by 5 minutes. If you rose to the challenge and again completed 200 total repetitions, you may not have increased your total volume, but you’ve still increased your training density. In other words, you can do more work in less time, and are therefore progressing.
BTA #3 – Variations
For this amplifier, we’ll use the example of a push-up since this seems to be the exercise most become proficient at, fastest.
At one point or another, you’ll be able to perform 50-60 push-ups in a given set. This means that you’ve become extremely proficient with the movement and thus the intensity of this workout is extremely low (for you).
The next option would be to either:
— Add weight
— Adjust tempo
— Increase training density
— Use a more challenging variation
Some example of challenging variations for bodyweight movements:
1. Chin-Ups to Single Arm Chin-Ups
2. Pull Ups to Wide Grip Pull Ups
3. Push-Ups to One Arm Push-Ups
4. Squats to Pistol Squats
Why is this a viable option?
Well .. I don’t think it’s hard to see how squatting (or pushing up) your entire body using one leg (or arm) rather than two would equate to a heavier load on the target muscle.
At the end of the day, if your goal is to build size and strength, then bodyweight training, with the right principles in place, can and will produce solid muscle and strength gains.
– Alain Gonzalez, author, Bodyweight MASS