Building Muscles Without Hassle

You already know that lifting weights will help you build muscle. (And that heavy lifting will not make you bulky!) But if you're working out at home with no equipment except your own body, you might wonder whether you'll still see gains—or, frankly, lose some you worked hard to get previously. The simple answer: You certainly can still build muscle without all those weight plates and barbells. But, of course, there is a little more to the story about using bodyweight training to add muscle. Here is what you need to know.

Can Body Weight Exercises Build Muscle?

If you're used to lifting super heavy at the gym, grabbing barbells, or moving weight on machines, replicating that at home can prove somewhat difficult, says Alexis Colvin, M.D., an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at the Mount Sinai Health System. But that does not mean you cannot build muscle if you are limited to bodyweight exercises; it just means you will have to switch up the way you typically train. Maybe for you, that means moving through exercises much more slowly or upping the reps, sets, or timing of each move. "In order to build muscle, you need to challenge the muscle," says Colvin. So, whatever change it takes to challenge your muscles, which is the goal. And figuring out what works best for you or what tests your body that most? Well, that will take some trial and error.

The advantages of bodyweight exercises are that you are doing functional, compound movements that let you focus on form without the added resistance. You will get stronger in movement patterns you use in everyday life, plus you will work multiple joints and muscles at one time with exercises like squats, push-ups, and lunges, says Colvin. You also work many smaller muscles, particularly when doing stabilizing exercises, like bird dogs, planks, and single-sided moves, she adds. These types of moves target your upper and lower body, along with your core, challenging muscles you do not always work with weights.

Some research has compared loaded exercises with bodyweight moves, showing similar results in how much muscle the participants gained. For example, one small study comparing a loaded bench press to a bodyweight push-up demonstrated similar muscle gains in the pecs and triceps after an eight-week period. Another small study on post-menopausal women at high risk for type 2 diabetes found that 12 weeks of high-intensity bodyweight interval training increased muscle mass to a similar extent as a combination of aerobic and resistance training. And, in another study, one group did a series of elbow flexion exercises (think: bicep curls) with a heavy load, and the other did the exercises with bodyweight, making sure to maintain tension throughout the full range of motion. The bodyweight group had a comparable increase in muscle size to the group with a heavy load.

Check out this article to gain workout ideas.

Work Out a Routine That Rotates Among Strength-Training Exercises

When you are not using weights, your body becomes the "weight" that you use to build muscle. For instance, a pushup, where you are pushing your body off the floor, uses your body's weight to build muscle. However, you cannot just stick with 1 exercise. You need to rotate through exercises to build up muscle across your body. 

  • Try exercises like squats, handstand pushups, pull-ups, dips, and body rows.

  • You can also try things like sit-ups and 1-armed handstands up against a wall for balance.

It can help to rotate through types of exercises. For instance, in your first round, do bodyweight squats, standard pushups, alternating lunges, and side planks. On the next round, try squat jumps, pause pushups, split-squad jumps, and front planks.

Alternate Between Limbs

Many exercises call for you to use both arms or both legs at once. However, if you only use 1 at a time, you work the muscles in that limb harder, helping you build up muscle. Alternate which limb you use on exercises that use both, such as doing pushups with just your left arm and then just your right arm.

  • To mix things up, try a push up with your feet close together. If that is easy for you, try lifting one foot off the floor for your pushups. Alternate so you perform the exercise equally on each leg.

  • If you try one-arm pushups, attempt to hold the other arm behind your back. If you are ready for an added challenge, place the free hand forward or out to the side. Again, perform any one-sided exercises equally. There are tons of ways to vary your pushups to increase their difficulty.

Increase the Difficulty

When you are doing a bodyweight exercise, push until you cannot do another rep. However, once you can do 15 reps each time, it's time to move up to a more difficult exercise. More difficult exercises challenge your muscles more than repeating a less difficult exercise over and over. 

  • For instance, maybe you start off doing wall pushups because you are not quite ready for floor pushups. Once you get the hang of those, try doing pushups from your knees, and eventually move on to typical pushups.

  • Once that seems easy, try pushups with an arm or foot raised to increase difficulty.

This article provides you with insights to gain muscles without lifting weights. 

Workout at Least 3 Times a Week

If you want to build muscle, try setting a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for workouts. When doing exercises, aim for 5 to 12 reps per set to build muscle. Aim for working through each exercise until you are just short of the most you can give. You do not want to go all out because that can hurt your muscles. However, you do want to push yourself each time. 

  • You can try rotating through the 4 types of exercises 3 times, so you hit 12 different exercises. Do each exercise for 30 seconds each and then rest for 30 seconds. Do all 12 exercises again, repeating 3 to 5 times.

  • Change up the speed of an exercise to work your muscles in a unique way. For example, perform a squat by lowering yourself slowly for a count of 6 and then burst up to standing. Explosive muscle contractions work your body differently than slow and steady movements. This is a wonderful way to add variety and intensity to your workout.

  • Body-weight exercises can get you far, but you may eventually need to start using weights so your workouts are more challenging

Why be late? If you are a fitness freak and stuck at home, follow these tips, and build muscles to be fit.

Written By- Mohammed Ghattas

Edited By- Sravanthi Cheerladinne

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