I do know what a few of you’re in all probability considering: “Here’s that lewd, tattooed dude from Brooklyn again. Sure, he knows about calisthenics, but what the heck can he possibly tell me about serious mass and bodybuilding?”
It’s OK. My emotions aren’t damage. The very notion of “bodyweight bodybuilding” is certain to ruffle some feathers. But extra importantly, it additionally raises many questions. Here are just some that I’ve acquired over time:
- Can bodyweight-only coaching considerably alter my physique?
- Is it attainable to focus on a particular muscle group utilizing body weight coaching solely?
- Can you actually placed on mass with calisthenics?
- No, actually? Can you?
The reply to all of those questions is a convincing sure! Or at the least, it’s in the event you incorporate the next guidelines into your coaching.
Rule 1: Employ Progressive Resistance
In the world of bodybuilding, success is predicated on attributes like muscle symmetry, dimension, form, and proportions. It isn’t just what your muscle tissues appear like individually, it is also how they relate to your physique as an entire. For this motive, the distinctiveness of any given bodybuilder’s anatomy will dictate a few of the particular particulars inside their coaching. Still, all bodybuilders make use of progressive resistance to form and management the event of their musculature.
When you utilize exterior resistance, you possibly can improve the load just by including extra weight to the equipment. This is true whether or not you are working with a barbell, dumbbell, or isolation machine. Adding extra iron will make it heavier. It’s a no brainer.
However, for many who prepare utilizing body weight, it is extra refined—and I might argue, extra elegant. Because your physique’s weight won’t change from set to set, it’s important to artfully improve the resistance by making changes to the train, quite than to the load.
I mentioned a few of these strategies in my article “Increase Your Strength Without Using More Weight,” together with some choices:
- Altering the leverage. Example: feet-elevated push-ups vs. normal push-ups
- Changing the weight-to-limb ratio. Example: pistol squats vs. lunges
- Increasing the vary of movement. Example: pull-ups to chest vs. pull-ups to chin
All 3 will give your muscle tissues novel stimulus and assist you to to maintain progressing—and rising.
Rule 2: Rep Out
Unlike coaching for absolute energy, the place we typically shoot for 1-5 reps utilizing round 80-90 % of our most load—or a model of an train we are able to solely carry out for these reps—our purpose in body weight bodybuilding is to construct and sculpt muscle mass.
In this case, we’d like extra reps. I typically counsel the 8-12 rep vary, with 60-80 % of your max, the place you actually must struggle for it towards the tip of every set. This will will let you inflict extra injury on the muscle fibers, which is without doubt one of the well-established mechanisms of muscle progress.
When you possibly can’t modify the load on the bar or weight stack, it might appear difficult to gauge 60-80 % of your max. It would not must be. I like to recommend selecting workouts the place your most efforts are reached in that 8-12 rep zone, whereas nonetheless sustaining good type.
In different phrases, in the event you can bang out 20 reps, you want a more durable train. If you possibly can barely squeeze out 3 earlier than your type begins to endure, then strive one thing extra forgiving. Wide pull-ups, one-arm push-ups, or toes-to-bar leg raises could also be acceptable right here, however like each coaching protocol, the specifics will fluctuate from particular person to particular person.
Rule 3: Split It Up
Calisthenics goes hand in hand with full-body exercises. However, within the case of body weight bodybuilding, this might not be the most effective method. Because you intention to focus on and exhaust your muscle tissues—versus leaving some proverbial “gas in the tank”—you may in all probability get higher outcomes while you prepare every muscle group extra intensely, however much less ceaselessly.
That’s why a break up routine of emphasizing completely different physique components on completely different days is nice for placing on dimension. There are quite a few other ways to method this, however listed below are 2 of the classics:
- Upper physique/decrease physique
The benefit is obvious: Your arms can relaxation while you prepare your legs. Your chest can relaxation whilst you prepare your again. This offers you extra time to develop and restore.
Rule 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Bulk and Cut
Just as you need to eat much less to shed weight, you need to eat extra to achieve. But while you do that, be ready for some elevated physique fats as you’re placing on muscle. Of course your expertise could also be distinctive, however it’s in all probability unrealistic to assume which you can pack on further kilos of lean muscle with out additionally growing your body-fat share to a point.
That’s why individuals bulk after which lower: you possibly can’t do them each on the identical time very effectively. So quite than attempt to crack this timeless riddle and fail, cycle your food plan between placing on muscle and lowering fats. So sure, chances are you’ll lose a few of the element in your calisthenics body within the brief time period, however be assured that you just’re doing it for a superb motive—and which you can lean down in the event you decide to it as absolutely as you probably did to rising!
In this regard, body weight coaching and bodybuilding have so much in widespread. Bodyweight coaching favors a low body-fat share; bodybuilding calls for it! Being terribly lean not solely makes your physique look extra ripped and your physique seem extra muscular, it is also important if you wish to develop a excessive diploma of vascularity.
Of course, there are different tips you possibly can make use of to seem extra lean and outlined, starting from water manipulation to tanning, however they don’t seem to be for everybody. For most of us who should not searching for that aggressive edge by any means essential, dialing in a food plan excessive in protein, vitamins, and fiber is a good begin!
Rule 5: Get Creative with the Classics
Recently, a younger man named Alex Ceban reached out to me. He is a real calisthenics purist in his coaching, however he was embracing a problem that not lots of calisthenics fanatics have undertaken to my data: He was making ready for his first physique competitors by coaching 100 % with body weight.
Functionally, Alex may do all of it, from one-arm push-ups to pistol squats and even the human flag. But he reached out to me as a result of he knew that to compete he needed to deal with aesthetics. He wished to know the best body weight workouts he may do for his traps.
In my reply, I beneficial he strive modified handstand push-ups. To goal the traps extra explicitly, I advised maintaining his arms elevated on parallettes, so he may prolong his vary of movement, in addition to shift a few of the focus from his deltoids to his traps. I additionally prescribed huge pull-ups, however informed him to tug the bar behind his neck, quite than in entrance, with the intention to goal the specified space.
The upshot for you: Although body weight coaching is usually regarded for its full muscular recruitment, after we get artistic, we are able to nonetheless dial up the depth on any physique half we select.
With my recommendation and his exhausting work, Alex positioned primary in WNBF Amateur Men’s Physique, using body weight solely. And you’d higher imagine that each one the opposite guidelines right here had been ones he lived and breathed with the intention to succeed!
Rule 6: Work Hard
This is a very powerful rule on this listing. In life and health, outcomes don’t typically come with out exhausting work. Fitness have to be earned. If your coaching would not really feel strenuous, then it is not. And it is in all probability not working.
You should work exhausting. When I say that, I do not imply merely displaying up and going via the motions; I imply effort and I imply hours. Put within the time and make it rely.