Before the inception of barbells, dumbbells, hack squat machines, the internet or the T-1000, people who wanted to gain muscle and get HUUUUUGE, had only one piece of training equipment…the human body! Although bodyweight training has fallen out of favor in recent times due to the advent of such fitness innovations, it continues to be used to this very day because of its efficacy.
Our muscles are both smart and dumb. Follow along here. Our muscles are smart in that they adapt over time to various training stimuli and to avoid the dreaded plateau, we need to mix things up here and there (sets, reps, training volume, weight lifted, rest periods, etc.). What makes them “dumb” is that they only rely on one key factor to spark growth: a stimulus overload.
Your muscles have no clue whether you’re using barbells, dumbbells, milk jugs, or the shake weight. And they’re also not smart enough to keep you from buying that latest over-priced piece of equipment marketed to “get massive guns in 8 minutes a day.”
Simply put, if you can challenge a muscle with a high enough stimulus, it has no choice but to grow. Tools in the gym (weights, machines, cables) are simply a shortcut to this.
Don’t I need weights?!
In order to build muscle most people will tell you that you must invest in heavy weights. Not so anymore. Emerging research has shown that in addition to utilizing a high enough stimulus, the time under tension (TUT) that a muscle undergoes is just as crucial for sparking hypertrophy.[1,2] All that is required to apply this to bodyweight training is a little ingenuity.
Instead of banging out 50 push ups as fast as you can, try playing around with your lifting tempo. Rather than go up-down-up-do quickly, stretch it out to where you are lowering yourself over a 3 count, pausing at the bottom for 3 counts, pushing up for 3 counts, and then repeating the movement. Each rep is now taking a minimum of 9 seconds! Try doing 50 of those now, and tell me if your muscles won’t grow to that stimulus!
Bodyweight only builds endurance!
Ok, so you don’t buy the TUT concept and you’re one of those that contend bodyweight training is only effective for conditioning and increasing muscular endurance. We won’t hold this against you because calisthenics are often associated with high reps, gymanast and military PT tests.
But, hold on for just one second and look at the muscular development of male gymnasts. A very different picture is painted.
The problem is that most people don’t utilize (or know) proper bodyweight training progressions. So they never really increase the resistance or difficulty of the exercise. They keep doing the same basic versions of pull ups, push ups, and squats and say to themselves, “this is too easy and I won’t build muscle this way.”
They’re correct in this regard that basic variation eventually become too easy and won’t provide enough tension or overload to build muscle.
But, try a 1-arm pull up or push up or a pistol squat and see if that won’t spark new muscle growth. We’ll wait while you attempt one of these and fall flat on your face…
Better now? Good.
A little hunting around the internet will reward you with endless options for increasing the difficulty of the basics and provide you plenty variations to incorporate into your training to keep pushing the envelope and getting your muscles to grow.
The real problem.
The real problem with bodyweight training isn’t the fact that it can’t be used to grow muscle. It’s because it more difficult, time-consuming, and frustrating than traditional weight lifting.
Sure it’s easy enough to put another 45 lb plate on a barbell or bump your weights up 5 lbs a week on presses. What not so easy is developing the skill, coordination, and strength to perform a 1-arm, 1-leg pushup or a 4-ball pushup or a pistol squat.
It takes a LOT of patience and discipline to progress with bodyweight training. The other problem is that as you getting bigger and heavier, through proper nutrition, the exercises become more difficult so then you can’t progress through the variations as quickly. Or you think you can’t progress anymore and give up.
Bodyweight exercises can quickly build muscle, you only need to keep progressing to more difficult variations of each of them to see the benefits.
What prevents most people from getting the results they want from bodyweight training stems from a lack of knowledge regarding proper training and progression of the exercises To gain size and strength you need to create significant loading and tension on the muscles. Ultra high rep work of basic movements accomplishes neither of these.
Will you ever get Jay Cutler or Arnold, huge? No, but you can and will put on appreciable muscle size by effectively and methodically increasing the load and difficulty of bodyweight movements. Your muscles and joints will thank you for not hammering them with weights. They’ve been the backbone of fitness since the dawn of man and will continue to propel us to new physical fitness heights in the ensuing decades.
Get Pumped with Nitramine!
Don’t let the naysayers hold you back from utilizing all that bodyweight training has to offer. This style of training takes focus, concentration, and dedication. Myokem’s Nitramine is the ultimate pre workout in giving you the focus and energy to tackle even the toughest full planche push up or bounding pistol squat!
Take it 30 minutes prior to your work and you’ll be ready to take your bodyweight training to new heights! There is no better pre workout on the market that provides prolonged energy, stamina, and focus that Nitramine.
You can get a free sample of Nitramine below, or click to see the best deal!