In this post I am going to show you some body weight workout routines that can build muscle and increase your strength. Some people are skeptical about a training program that doesn’t use any external weights for resistance. Is it truly enough? Can you really get big and strong with nothing more than your bodyweight as resistance?
It depends on what you mean by enough, but the answer is yes. Body weight training is a legitimate option for anyone interested in building an impressive and natural physique, increasing their strength, improving their athletic performance, mobility, and flexibility. The ability to bust out some ridiculous moves on the pullup bars look way cooler to me than benching 250 pounds.
Strength without mobility, strength without agility, strength without flexibility and without athletic skills are useless in my mind. You can have both of course, but a lot of people have bought the mainstream idea of what real fitness look like.
All types of strength training operate under the same principle of progressive overload. The only way to get stronger is to learn a movement pattern under a relatively low amount of resistance, then gradually increase the load and/ or quantity of repetitions as the body adapts. When you are using external weights this is done by adding some weight as you get stronger, but when you use your bodyweight it is a bit more challenging.
The benefits however, are real athletic skills and body control as you get stronger and move on to harder variations of any given exercise. To build muscle and strength with a body weight workout routine, the most effective option is progressive calisthenics. There are a lot of different variations and routines out there, I am going to give you some options.
Before you move on to more advanced body weight exercises, you need to build a good foundation. If you are just starting out, a total body workout routine that you repeat 3 times a week is a great start. Here is an example of a good workout to get you started.
Pushups 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Hangups 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Squats 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Hip Bridge 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
The Plank 3 sets x 30 seconds
When you start out, your goal is to increase the number of reps on every exercise. Most people will have a harder time increasing the reps on hangups than the other exercises. When you can do more than 15 reps with perfect form on the different exercises, you can start progressing to harder variations.
Moving on to The Next Level
In the next body weight workout routine we are moving up to harder variations of the classic calisthenics exercises. It is still a total body workout that you repeat 3 times a week.
Feet Elevated Pushups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Pike Pushups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Wide Hand Hangups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Close Hand Chinups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Squats 2 sets x 20 reps
Assisted Pistol Squats 2 sets x 5 – 10 reps
Straight Bridge 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
The Plank 3 sets x 1 minute
In the same way as on the foundation workout routine, your goal here is to increase your number off reps. When you can do more than 15 reps with perfect form on the different exercises, you can start progressing to harder variations.
Building Real Strength
This workout routine progresses the classic exercises to the next level and introduces the concept of the split routine. You are no longer doing three full body workouts each week, instead splitting the training up into two days of upper-body emphasis and two days of lower-body emphasis.
Remember to get at least 48 hours between the same routine. As an example you can do workout NR. 1 on Monday, workout NR. 2 on Tuesday before you rest on Wednesday. Repeat the same pattern on Thursday and Friday and take the weekend off.
NR. 1 Upper-Body
Feet Elevated Pushups 2 sets x 15 reps
Pullups 2 sets x 15 reps
Archer Pushups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Archer Pullups 2 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Hanging Leg Raise 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
Handstand Pushups 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
NR. 2 Lower-Body
Squats 2 sets x 30 reps
Hover Lunges 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps (each leg)
Pistol Squats 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps (each leg)
Archer Squats 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps (each leg)
Candlestick Straight Bridge 3 sets x 6 – 12 reps
As in the other routines you start where you are and increase your reps as you get stronger. When you can do more than 15 reps, it is time to explore even harder calisthenics exercises.
Form and Speed
When performing the exercises in the different body weight workout routines, you will have the best effect with relatively slow and steady reps. Use your strength, and not the momentum you will get by moving fast. This does not mean that training explosive movements is not good, you can and should add some explosive sets when you have built a proper foundation.
Be patient and do the exercises without cheating and in proper form. Sometimes that means that you have to go back a step in the progressions and build more reps before you move on again. You will get there when you are ready!
The exercises in the routines will give you a great total body strength training. You will get stronger, you will build muscle and be ready for even harder calisthenics exercises. And you can do it without equipment, and without joining a gym.
If you have any questions, comments or something you would like to share please comment below this post.
All the best,