If you had told me when I was back in college that you could build muscle and get stronger with bodyweight exercises, I would have told you that you are crazy and that you had to lift heavy weights to get stronger.
Truth is, when implemented properly, bodyweight training is a great way to pack on size and increase relative body strength. Bodyweight training is also a surefire way to improve athleticism and sport performance on the mat, field or court.
With this said, below are ‘6 Muscle Building Bodyweight Exercises’ that you don’t want to miss:
1) The Pull-up
The power of the pull-up cannot be overstated. If you want to build a strong, thick and ripped back then pull-ups need to be a staple in your training. There are various different ways to do pull-ups including palms facing you (chin-up), palms away form you (traditional pull-up), alternate grip (mixed pull-up), or using a neutral grip (safest for shoulders).
Not only can you alter the grip you use to hit different parts of your back, but you can use a wide, narrow or standard grip with each of these hand positions. If you really want to get advance you can do pull-ups on Fat Gripz or by holding thick rope. The really is no right or wrong way to do pull-ups, so experiment with these different variations and see what works for you.
There are many different ways to implement pull-ups. For beginners the best way to implement them is to “grease the grove” as Pavel would say. In order to “grease the grove” you would slowly build up volume by doing multiple sets of very low reps. This is a great way to build volume for those who can’t do more then 3-5 pull-ups at a time.
For more advanced lifters and athletes doing high rep sets of 10-20 are a great way to build muscle and improve strength endurance. Weighted pull-ups in the 6-10 rep range are an excellent way to improve strength and size. Again, use a variety of different set and rep schemes when doing pull-ups to get the most bang for your buck.
Dips are an old school exercise that get a bad rep for causing shoulder pain. If you do not have any preexisting shoulder injuries, especially to the AC joint, dips are an excellent way to develop strength and size in the triceps, chest and shoulders.
Like pull-ups, you can do dips for high reps 10-20 to get bigger and increase strength endurance or you can do weighted dips for 6+ reps if you want to build your bench press or other pressing movements.
If you want to make dips even more challenging, do them on a suspension trainer. Not only are these much harder, but they also help alleviate shoulder pain and work the stabilizing muscles.
Push-ups are often overlooked because they are “too easy” to do but this is mainly because many lifters don’t do them properly. When done properly, push-ups are an awesome way to improve strength and size in the chest, shoulders and triceps. While they work similar muscles as the dips, they are more shoulder friendly then the dips.
While there are many different push-up variations, the most effective are weighted pus-ups, suspended push-ups, handstand push-ups and Spiderman push-ups. Like pull-ups and dips you can do push-ups for high rep sets of 10+ reps or do weighted push-ups for 6+ reps.
If you want to start building serious muscle, start incorporating these exercises into your training program.
P.S Do you want to learn the secrets to building serious muscle and size while staying healthy? Check out Bodyweight Bodybuilding from my man Zach Even-Esh.