3 Ways to Build Lean Muscle With Bodyweight Exercise

3 Ways To Build Lean Muscle With Body Weight Exercise

Bodyweight Exercises For Mass: A Guide To Building Muscle At Home

What Is Bodyweight Exercise?

The term “body weight exercise” refers to any physical activity performed without the use of a barbell or other heavy object. These activities include everything from walking around with your hands clasped together to doing pushups, sit ups, crunches and even just sitting quietly. If you have ever done one of these things, then you are probably familiar with the benefits of using only your own body weight when performing them.

How Does Bodyweight Work?

When you perform any physical activity, whether it’s lifting weights or running, your muscles contract and relax. When they do so, the amount of force produced depends on how much force is being exerted against the resistance. Your body contains many different types of muscle fibers that work in concert to produce all kinds of muscular movements. The basic types of muscle fibers are slow twitch and fast twitch.

Slow twitch muscle fibers are used for low-intensity, long-duration activities such as walking or slow jogging (As opposed to sprinting). Fast twitch muscle fibers are used for high-intensity, short-duration activities, such as running a 100 yard dash. In between the extremes of low-intensity and high-intensity activity are a variety of activities that utilize a combination of both types of muscle fibers.

One way to train all the different types of muscle fibers is through body weight training. By using your own body weight in various ways, you can get more “bang for your buck” when it comes to producing force against your muscles. This can lead to more powerful, stronger muscles that allow you to perform better in all aspects of daily life.

Benefits Of Bodyweight Training:

1. Body weight training can be done anywhere at anytime.

All you need is your body and you can do push-ups, crunches, etc.

2. It’s cheap.

The only thing you need to pay for is a good mattress and maybe some workout clothes. You don’t need to buy expensive weight sets or other exercise equipment.

3. It helps prevent injuries caused by heavy weightlifting.

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By only using your body weight as resistance, you avoid strain on your tendons and other connective tissue. This greatly decreases your chance of suffering an injury while working out.

4. It improves your balance and coordination.

Since your body is your resistance, you need to control your bodies movements in space. Also, since exercise is dynamic by nature, your muscles are forced to constantly adapt to changing stimuli, further improving your balance and coordination abilities.

5. It increases your overall strength.

Body weight training can be used to increase overall strength, anaerobic or aerobic fitness and muscular endurance. By pushing your body to its limits, you can reap the many rewards of a healthy, fit lifestyle.

What Are Some Different Types Of Bodyweight Exercises?

Below are just some of the different types of exercises that can be performed with no more equipment than your own body weight:

1. Push-Ups

These are a classic exercise for building upper body strength and stability. To increase the difficulty, you can do one arm at a time, or place your feet up against a wall to decrease the amount of body weight you need to lift.

2. Sit-Ups

A staple exercise for toning your abdominal muscles.

3. Pull-Ups

Another staple exercise, pull-ups are a great way to build up your back and arm muscles. To begin, you can use a chair to assist you in pulling yourself up until your chin is over the bar. As your strength increases, so does the amount of body weight you lift.

4. Squats

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A compound, total body exercise. It works your quadriceps (the front of your thighs), your hamstrings (the back of your thighs), your buttocks, as well as your abdomen and lower back.

5. Lunges

Works just like the squat, except it takes place in a single step instead of multiple steps. Also works the glutes and the muscles of the front and back of your legs.

6. Crunches

Sit ups’ more well known cousin. They help tone up your abdominals. To increase the difficulty, you can place a weight on your stomach or raise your legs off the floor.

7. Tricep Dips

Works the muscles at the back of your arm (your triceps). These are great for both appearance and function as strong triceps allow you to lift and carry heavier objects with less risk of injury.

8. Lying Down Tricep Extensions

Similar to tricep dips except they can be done using your body weight. Also works the rear deltoids, which are located at the top of your shoulders.

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9. Push-Ups On Fingers

These work your fingers in a fun way! Spread your fingers as far as you can, and then do push-ups with your fingers as the points of contact with the floor.

10. Planks

Probably one of the most functional exercises you can do. It works your abdominal muscles as well as your back muscles and your glutes. The stronger your core is, the better you’ll be at athletic endeavors.

11. Bodyweight Squats

These work much like regular squats, except you’re not lifting any weight other than your own body.

12. Air Squats

These are a type of bodyweight squat that is done using only your body weight. It’s an easier exercise than the traditional squat, but still works much the same muscles.

13. One-Legged Bridges

Another exercise that works your glutes and your hamstrings. By placing one foot in front of the other and raising one leg into the air, you can increase the balance challenge for these muscles.

14. Plank Jacks

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A fun little exercise that works your entire core, as well as your shoulders and lower body.

15. Glute Bridges

A compound exercise for your glutes and hamstrings. It also helps to tone the muscles of your lower back.

16. Shoulder Bridge & Leg Raises

Another compound exercise that works your glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, and lower back.

17. Burpees

Though it may seem like a simple exercise at first, burpees are a challenging workout. They work the muscles of your chest, shoulders, abdominals, and legs.

18. Pike Push-Ups

Another push-up exercise that challenges your body and builds up strength in your arms, shoulders, chest, and core.

19. Muscle-Ups

This is a challenging exercise that works your entire upper body, and requires you to have a sufficient amount of strength and stamina.

20. Pull-Ups

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This exercise is a staple in most workout routines as it works the muscles of your back, biceps, forearms, and core.

21. Tricep Dips On Chair

This is a great exercise that works your triceps, and can be easily modified to work your core as well.

22. Windshield Wipers

A compound exercise that works your abdominals and lower back. As the name implies, you swing your legs from side-to-side in a twisting motion.

23. Russian Twists

Another compound exercise that works the muscles of your abdominals and lower back. It’s an isolation exercise, as opposed to the twisting motion of the windshield wipers.

24. Plank Toe Touches

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A great exercise for your abdominals and lower back. You perform these by raising your upper body and reaching your fingers towards your toes.

25. Seated Leg Lifts

As the name implies, this exercise works the muscles of your legs and abdominals. It’s a great way to tone your core and strengthen your lower body.

26. Jumping Jacks

This is an excellent cardio exercise that also works the muscles of your arms and legs.

27. Jogging In Place

Another great cardio exercise that will get your heart pumping and increase your oxygen intake. It also works the muscles in your legs.

28. Mountain Climbers

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This is a great exercise for your whole body and requires a lot of balance and coordination. Even if you don’t have someone to race, it’s fun to see how far you can get your legs behind your head!

29. Push-Ups

There’s a reason the push-up is so popular among exercise programs, it works the muscles in your arms, core, and chest.

30. Sit-Ups

There’s a reason this exercise is so popular among ab exercise programs. It works your abdominals and obliques, as well as your hip flexors.

31. Frog Pump

A great exercise that works the muscles in your shins, ankles, and feet. If you have tight calves this is a great way to stretch them out.


Sources & references used in this article:

Thermic effect of food at rest, during exercise, and after exercise in lean and obese men of similar body weight. by KR Segal, B Gutin, AM Nyman… – The Journal of clinical …, 1985 – Am Soc Clin Investig

Body weight, exercise and menstrual status among ballet dancers in training by SF ABRAHAM, PJV Beumont, IS Fraser… – … Journal of Obstetrics …, 1982 – Wiley Online Library

Alternate day fasting and endurance exercise combine to reduce body weight and favorably alter plasma lipids in obese humans by S Bhutani, MC Klempel, CM Kroeger, JF Trepanowski… – …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library

Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass by JS Volek, BM Volk, AL Gómez, LJ Kunces… – Journal of the …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis

Breaking Muscle by A Larsen – breakingmuscle.com