got a confession to make. Many people believe that lifting weights
is the key to build muscle mass. This can't be further from the
truth. In fact, muscle building can be done through what is known
as resistance training. It doesn't matter whether you're lifting
weights or performing bodyweight exercises, the most important
thing here is that you're using your muscles to overcome a resistance
force. Exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, bodyweight
squats are sure-fire ways you can build muscle mass without ever
touching weights. These are actually known as calisthenics and
they should be the foundation of any workout routine. Frankly
I consider weights only to advance my training after I have properly
mastered bodyweight training which can hit a plateau with time.
Here are 5 calisthenics you can perform to build muscle mass:
Many times when you hear push-ups, you tend to think of military
guys performing push-ups daily. The truth is push-ups are one
of the most popular exercises in the army and can really build
great muscle mass if you perform them regularly with intensity
like doing several sets. Push-ups target primarily the chest muscles(pectorals)
and to some extent the triceps and shoulders. The standard push-up
is the most common but there are several variations of push-ups
notably declined push-ups(working mostly upper chest), push-ups
between chairs(outer chest), handstand push-ups(lay emphasis on
triceps and shoulders), diamond push-ups(mostly triceps and inner
chest) and declined diamond push-ups(laying more emphasis on triceps
and shoulders). Here is a sample routine:
push-ups - 3 sets of 8-15
Push-ups between chairs - 3 sets of 8-10
Diamond push-ups - 3 sets of 8-10
seconds rest between sets and 2 minutes rest between exercise.
Same as with push-ups, pull-ups are popular calisthenic exercises
in the military. In fact both of them go hand in hand. Pull-ups
target primarily the back muscles including the lats, the middle
back(rhomboids), the traps and to some extent the biceps, forearms
and shoulders. Pull-ups are actually very tough to perform initially
as you'll need enough strength in your arms to be able to raise
your body up to the pull-up bar. Performing negative pull-ups
can actually help novices in building strength. What you need
to do is grab the pull-up bar and try to lower your body slowly
in a controlled fashion. Of course you need to bring your body
initially to the bar then lower gradually. You might need a chair
to assist you if the bar is too high up. Negative pull-ups are
a great way to strengthen your arms and give you a kickstart to
your pull-up routine. Wide-grip pull-ups use a pronated grip(palms
facing away from you) and target mostly the upper lats and to
some extent the traps, biceps, forearms and rear shoulders. If
you want that V-Taper body, start doing wide-grip pull-ups. Once
you reach 2-3 sets of 8-10 repeats, you can build muscle mass
more effectively because performing only a couple of pull-ups
is not enough to develop your back. Close-grip pull-ups can also
be done and these target mostly the lower lats and rhomboids as
well as the secondary muscle groups like biceps, forearms, shoulders.
Close-grip pull-ups also use a pronated grip.
Same like close-grip pull-ups but this time using a supinated
grip(palms facing you), chin-ups also build lower lats, rhomboids
and several other secondary muscle groups but this exercise lays
a strong resistance on your biceps. A pull-up bar can be easily
installed in your home and it's best if you can fit it between
two concrete walls.
The best way to perform dips is to use a dip station like what
you have at the gym but if you don't have access to a dip station,
chairs can also be used as an alternative but be sure to have
2 sturdy chairs with high backrest so that your body can be elevated.
Dips can also be as hard as pull-ups and the main muscle groups
worked are chest, triceps and shoulders. If you lean your body
forward, you target more the lower chest but if you keep your
body straight, more emphasis is laid on triceps. Lower your body
till your elbows reach a 90 degree angle and back to initial position.
You can also use another technique to perform dips and you will
also need two chairs here but used differently. Place both arms
behind your back on a square chair and your legs on another chair.
Squats: Squats are powerful leg builders and you don't need
heavy weights to perform squats. Try your own bodyweight and perform
4-6 sets of 25 repeats and your quads will be on fire. Always
keep your back straight and legs spaced apart about 1 feet and
perform the squats in a controlled manner with no jerking motion.
Squats work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
great thing about these calisthenic exercises is they are all
compound exercises, meaning you can have a total body workout
with just 5 exercises since they work so many different muscle
groups. If you really want to grow your muscles fast, this is
where you should focus your efforts on. Master calisthenics and
once you reach a plateau, you can add weight training alongside
you want to specialize in calisthenics, I highly recommend you
to check out Complete
Calisthenics: The Ultimate Guide to Bodyweight Training
by Ashley Kalym.