Best Bodyweight Exercise to Build Muscle Size?
I am a big fan of bodyweight exercises. I use them as the base of my fitness routine. Since I have moved away from a routine focussed on weights, I have noticed that my strength has become far more balanced and capable, I have ended up with less injuries, and I have been able to maintain the routine more consistently (mainly because I don’t need to go to the gym to do it!).
Many people who are working out to primarily build muscle mass are a bit skeptical of bodyweight exercises. They think that bodyweight exercises don’t build muscle mass as effectively. I think that they won’t build muscle mass as quickly or easily as pushing weights, but they can still go a long way to building that frame you are after, and will build your strength in a far more holistic and balanced way. This also depends on the goal for building muscle mass. My goal for building mass is to have a good physique whilst building solid functional strength and flexibility. Others may just want to get big, in which case weighted exercise might be a better option.
It’s All in the Reps
Sure, if you do 3 reps of 20 pushups, squats and situps everyday, then you won’t realise the mass you are after. Your body will get used to this level of resistance, and your muscle development will start to plateau. But that is why you don’t become stagnant with the same circuit, and you mix it up and keep challenging your body.
[box type="note"]To provide this mix, you need to vary the number of reps for each exercise, and the rest periods.[/box]
One method I use is to use different timeframes for each exercise. This helps to vary the reps, and gives me a goal to keep pushing my body; I am always trying to get out more reps per set.
Another method I have come across is one developed by Nick Nillson. He suggest that for each exercise – say a squat – that you do 3 reps, rest for 10 seconds, then another 3 reps and repeat for 15 minutes. He suggests that you don’t work to failure, and that to prevent this you can extend your rest periods during the set.
As Many Reps in 1 Minute…
- Do 1 minute of each exercise below, trying to get out as many reps whilst maintaining good form
- Between each set, rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat for 2 sets of all exercises
- If you find that the timeframe is becoming too easy, then increase it for each set
As Many Sets of 3 Reps in 15 Minutes
- Pick one of the exercises below
- Do 3 reps, maintaining good form, and rest for 10 seconds
- Repeat this for 15 minutes
- If this begins to get tough, and you are reaching muscle failure, extend the 10 second rest period to 20 seconds
- Remember, do not push yourself to failure
- Ab cycle
- Back bridge
- Plank (hold for 1 minute)
[box type="note"]Doing one of the above routines will not only help build your strength, but you will be surprised how well you can build muscle mass with no weights.[/box]