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A lot of times, trying to build muscle involves the use of fitness equipment or gym machines for exercise. However, not many people realize that they can also build muscle mass by using their own body weight. This workout is known as bodyweight training.
Bodyweight exercises are a type of strength training. Implied in its name, bodyweight workouts involve the use of your whole body as the sole form of resistance. It’s an effective full-body workout that can improve balance, range of motion, and strength. Since you just need your body weight to do this kind of resistance training, you can do these exercises anywhere: at home, in the office, or even at the beach while you’re on vacation.
We’ve rounded up a couple of bodyweight exercises that you can turn into a fitness routine, especially if you want to build muscle mass and strength. Try them out!
Benefits of Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight workouts can be easily done in your own home and you don’t need any kind of equipment to do them, nor do you have to drag yourself to the gym to improve your muscles. Aside from it being a form of exercise that you can virtually do anywhere, bodyweight training has a ton of benefits.
Your entire body is being put to work when you do bodyweight training. Multiple muscles work in conjunction to complete just one workout. It combines strength training and cardio, keeping your heart pumping while building your muscles.
Bodyweight workouts also aid in burning calories. An intense workout means that you’ll still burn calories even after your session. Pairing a bodyweight workout with healthy eating can help you lose weight.
A bodyweight workout is highly efficient. You can get impressive results from a short bodyweight workout alone. Additionally, they can be done alongside other types of workouts to boost performance. Using just your bodyweight challenges your body’s stabilizers, leading to an increase in mobility and strength gains in the gym.
Bodyweight exercises are also a brilliant way to hone your form and technique. Weightlifting can take a toll on your body, especially your joints. Using your own weight in working out means that the stress on your joints is lower. You’re less likely to get injured with bodyweight workouts.
Furthermore, bodyweight workouts work for all fitness levels. Whether you’re a fitness beginner or seasoned in doing workouts, a bodyweight exercise can be good for you. A bodyweight workout is very customizable — it can help you build your routine as a starter and help you in toning your muscles as you do your main exercise a couple of times a week. You can adjust how many reps you do and modify many bodyweight exercises based on your fitness level.
Can You Build Mass with Bodyweight Workouts?
Building strength and muscle mass are the main points of bodyweight training. To build more muscle fibers, it’s important to take note of the following principles:
- Increasing reps and adding more weight.
- Decreasing rest periods.
- Performing more difficult variations.
- Increasing your time under tension by going slower.
By adhering to these principles, you’ll reduce the risk of hitting a plateau. Progressing your program by adding variations and increasing the challenge will allow you to build strength and muscle mass as you go on. Focusing on explosive movements, accumulating high reps, and maximizing time under tension can keep positive pressure on your muscles.
How Many Days A Week Should I Do Bodyweight Exercises?
Strength training exercises can create microscopic tears in the muscles worked. It’s highly important to have rest periods so that the muscle fibers are able to repair themselves and come back stronger than they were before. As a general rule, strength workouts should only be done two to three times a week.
Since bodyweight workouts don’t require the use of equipment, you can do them every day as long as you’re careful and that you follow some guidelines to ensure that you don’t overtrain. Just because you aren’t using weights doesn’t mean that you can skip the warm-up. Take a few minutes to prepare your muscles for your training session. By warming up, you reduce the risk of injuring yourself and get your muscles primed to engage in a bodyweight workout.
It is also vital to consider recovery. Bodyweight workouts can be strenuous which is why rest and recovery are important. When you do a bodyweight workout, always remember to train different groups of muscles each day to allow for recovery time.
Your Bodyweight Training Routine
A bodyweight workout is an effective type of training and a good addition to any fitness program. It can help you lose fat, get fitter, and bulk up as you go along. Doing a body-weight workout can be as efficient as training with free weights or weight machines. Here are several body-weight workouts that you can mix and match to start your training routine.
A push-up is a classic form of bodyweight workout. It’s considered the ultimate body-weight exercise. Doing push-ups gives you the chance to work your shoulders, arms, and chest. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to stabilize your core, hips, and glutes, making push-ups a full-body engagement.
To perform this exercise correctly, start in a plank position. Hold your hips high and ensure that you form a straight line from head to heel. Tuck your chin so that your eyes are focused downward. Depending on your hand position and shoulder stability, your body should lower to touch the ground or come within an inch away from it. Remember, your chest should be the part that makes it to the ground first, not your face or legs. Squeeze your glutes to avoid overarching your back and to help you engage your abs.
A wall stand push-up is a twist to the classic push-up that works your rear delts, trapezius, and your arms, giving you maximum benefits. To do this form of push-up, hike your feet up to your living room wall so that your body forms a 45-degree angle with the floor, arms straight. Next, bend your elbows and lower your shoulders toward the floor and then straighten. Do 10 reps.
This exercise offers the same benefits as a traditional crunch but it’s easier and takes the strain off your neck. To do this, lie on your back with your arms on the floor at your sides, palms facing down. Bend your knees and bring them towards your chest by contracting your abs. As your abs rise, roll your pelvis to lift your hips off the floor. Squeeze at the top, and then slowly lower until your thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
Side Steps / Lateral Lunges
Stand with your core engaged and your feet shoulder-weight apart. Rest your hands on your waist for balance. Next, step directly to the left, leaving one foot in place. Bend one knee and pause once your upper thigh is parallel to the ground. Your other leg should be completely straight. Contract the hamstring muscle and push off the ground to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Alternate this movement with each leg and do it for 50 seconds with a rest period of 10 seconds in between.
From a standing position, drop down and place your hands on the floor outside your feet. Jump your feet back and do a press-up. From your press-up position, hop your feet back between your hands. Jump up, clapping your hands overhead. Do ten reps, resting as needed in between.
This exercise improves your core strength. Start in a seated position with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Keep your spine straight as you lean back slightly, lifting your feet off the floor until you find your balance in a seated V. Remember to keep your legs straight but do not lock your knees.
Next, simultaneously lower your legs and upper body toward the floor, maintaining that balance as you widen the V-shape. When you’ve reached as far as you can, engage your core, and raise both legs and torso back to the original position. Do 10 reps.
Stand with your feet in a narrow stance. Next, lift one leg off the floor. Bend your standing knee to squat down as low as you can. Keep your back straight. Through your heel, push yourself up to return to the start position. Switch legs and repeat. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets with 14 reps each and a rest time of 30 seconds between each set.
Start at the top of a press-up position. Bend your arms to lower to your chest until it’s just off the floor. Simultaneously bring one knee up to your elbow, then return to start. Alternate knees. Do two rounds of 10 reps.
You won’t have to go up an actual mountain to do mountain climber workouts. Start on your hands and knees. Next, bring your left foot forward, positioning it directly under your chest while straightening your right leg. As you keep your hands on the floor and your core tight, jump and switch legs. Your left leg should now be extended behind you and your right knee is positioned in front. Do 5 sets of 60-second reps with a rest time of 120 seconds between each set.
While the majority of bodyweight exercises don’t require any equipment, one workout that does need an accessory is a pull-up. Pull-ups need to be done on a dedicated pull-up bar. If there’s one workout piece of equipment that you need, a bar is a great choice that’s affordable and widely available to buy. That said, pull-ups are a good way to build your upper body, especially the back and the shoulders.
To do this, grab the bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be as wide as you can comfortably position them. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale, and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Slowly lower yourself back to the start position.
Hanging Leg Raise
This is another workout that requires the use of a pull-up bar. To do this workout, being by hanging from the bar with an overhand grip. Contract your upper back muscles. Next, contract your core as you bring your legs together until they’re parallel with the floor. Lower them back down to the start. Keep your core engaged throughout to avoid swinging. Do 4 20-second sets with a resting period of 10 seconds each set.
This exercise is the perfect way to end a bodyweight workout as it’s a move that requires precision, balance, and a lot of arm and core strength. Begin in an extended push-ups position with your arms straight, feet about a foot apart. As you keep your body in one straight line, lift your right foot a few inches off the floor and extend your right leg behind you.
Find your balance and once you do, lift your left hand a few inches off the floor and extend your left arm in front of you. Aim to hold for 30 seconds before releasing back to the standard extended push-ups position. Do the next rep using your left foot and right hand. Do 4 sets with a rest time of 30 seconds each set.
Bodyweight exercises can help you develop a form of foundational strength, full-body coordination, and significant muscle growth. Moreover, bodyweight exercise training can help develop mental toughness and discipline as you go along. If you feel any discomfort while performing these exercises, stop and seek a personal trainer for professional advice.