3 Reasons to Start Bodyweight Training To Build Muscle

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Bodyweight training is the latest strength training craze and fast becoming a training-method favorite among many fitness enthusiasts. And why not, it can be done anywhere, is efficient and free.

1) It Can Be Done Anywhere

Because there is little if any equipment involved in bodyweight training, and what is involved weighs almost nothing and takes up little space, it is a favorite training program to take with you when traveling. If flying, and with suitcase weight at a premium, one has to be careful of the weight of things that get packed.

Whether you decide to do bodyweight training at home or outdoors in a local park, it is up to you. But with minimal equipment, you can do the same routines regardless of your location. Usually all you need is a chair or low wall to do tricep dips, or a set of resistance bands to work biceps. Basic lunges, planks and bridges don’t require any equipment at all!

2) It’s Efficient

With bodyweight training, it is easy to create routines that combine both cardio and strength training. For example, do a cardio minute of burpees or high-knees between strength training sets of push-ups or lunges.

Because of the lack of equipment needed, short but intense workouts like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are easy to do, because time isn’t lost transitioning from one equipment type to another. With HIIT, you’ll see impressive gains quickly.

Doing a combo routine of cardio and strength training not only burns fat during the routine, but also for hours afterward due to what is known as after burn – an increase in metabolism that continues well after your workout is finished. And, with strength training, you are building muscle mass which requires more calories even at rest, making your future calorie burn per day even higher.

Bodyweight training is challenging regardless of your fitness level because it is so malleable. Add in or take out an exercise, adjust the intensity – are simple to do with bodyweight training.

3) It’s Free!

Because a gym is not needed, no expensive gym membership is required. As a matter-of-fact, cost avoidance is one of the main reasons given by people choosing to start bodyweight training, beside the convenience of being able to do it anywhere.

While many exercises can be done without equipment, it is nice to have an exercise mat, a set of resistance bands and maybe one dumbbell (for weighted lunges), but that is about it. Otherwise all you need is the weight of your body and the desire to work it.

With bodyweight training not being tied to any one location, an efficient form of burning body fat and getting stronger and not requiring any expensive equipment or memberships, why would anyone not want to start bodyweight training?

How to Minimize Bodyweight Muscle Aches When Getting Started

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Whether it was when we first started a bodyweight exercise program or stared back up again after taking a break. What I’m talking about are sore muscles.

Before discussing how to minimize the soreness felt in muscles a day or two after starting or restarting an exercise program, or a significant change in intensity or duration to an existing program – called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS, let’s first talk about what causes it. When we exercise tiny tears in muscle fiber occur. As could be expected, the amount of tears is generally related to how hard or long the stressed is on the muscle and to a great extent the kind of exercise performed. While uncomfortable for a few days after occurring, it is a natural body response as part of its adaptation to something different than what it is used to. However, there are some things that you can do to minimize its effects:

Proper Nutrition

Muscles need protein to repair themselves. The best time to consume it is about a two-hour window after exercising. Protein sources should be from both plant and animal-based at the rate of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Adequate Hydration

Dehydration can inhibit cell recovery at the muscular level so be sure to drink enough water before, during and after working out. A good rule-of-thumb is to drink 20 to 24 ounces of water per hour of workout. A good hydration gauge is the color of your urine. If it is dark yellow, you need to consume water until it turns either a light yellow or runs clear.


Doing a cool-down after exercising helps to reduce delayed soreness, but so does rubbing down the worked muscles. Get a massage or have your significant other work the excess fluid out of your muscles.

Blood Flow

Just as cells need water to repair themselves, so do they need blood flow. Not only does fresh blood bring in much needed oxygen for cell repair, but it also takes out wastes created from exercising. An alternating cold/hot shower, ice bath or a swim are all good post-workout ways to keep the blood flowing.

Topical Ointments

There are several good products that you can rub on the affected area immediately after exercising, and up to several days after, that will reduce soreness and help with muscle recovery. They work by reducing cellular calcium buildup, increasing blood flow and provide a cooling sensation along with relieving pain.

Exercising doesn’t have to be painful. Use these five tips to make working out more enjoyable.

People often ask whether it’s realistic to build muscle with bodyweight training.

To answer the question, yes you can, but not to the extent you could using weights or weight machines. To continually build muscle, they must be continually and progressively overloaded, meaning you have to constantly work them harder if you want to continue to pack on the weight.

The real question is “Why are you putting on muscle?” If your goal is to compete in bodybuilding competitions, then only using bodyweight training exercises will not get you there. However, if you want to build functional muscle – muscle strength that you can use in everyday life – bodyweight exercises will far exceed what you can get from conventional strength training alone due to the difference between the two forms and how they work the muscles. With bodyweight training, a muscle is elongated during the exercise – called isometric contraction, whereas with weight training, the muscle is contracted called eccentric contraction. The later builds bulk while the former tones, and builds definition and sleekness. Don’t gymnasts look more balanced body wise than most bodybuilders and weightlifters?

Some of the exercises using just bodyweight are identical to the ones involving a piece of weighted equipment. For example, what is the difference between a chin-up and lat pulldown? Actually with the weight the same, nothing, as both types of exercises use the same muscles. However, with lat pulldowns, you could progressively add weight as you max out on repetitions, where with chin-ups you are limited to just your bodyweight.

But there are techniques to make bodyweight exercises more effective. Gymnasts use isometric contraction to their advantage. Basically it is holding your weight in one position over a set amount of time, thus continually stressing that particular muscle for that duration. Think the routines they do on a set of rings holding their bodyweight using just their outstretched arms!

To demonstrate how you can use isometric contraction to your advantage, let’s look at the pushup. From the starting position, lower yourself but stop just before your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Hold that position for 40 to 60 seconds. Now do a cluster set of 5 pushups where you do one push-up, rest 10 seconds, do another, rest, etc. As you build muscle, either hold in position longer, do more repetitions in each cluster set, or add in more complete pushup sets.

With some imagination, most of the bodyweight exercises “can be taken to the next level” by using the hold-in-position-and-then-cluster-set routine. So if you are looking to get buff, but not muscle bound, then yes bodyweight training exercise will build muscle where you want it.

Should You Train Through Pain?

This is an excellent question and it’s also a very difficult question to answer. One will need to take into account what type of pain they’re feeling, their level of fitness, what the activity is, etc. This article will shed some light on this issue but ultimately, you will need to decide for yourself.

The first type of pain that we’ll look at is muscular aches. This is common and is the result of the body releasing lactic acid due to exercise. Those who are new to exercise will often feel it the most. If you have muscular aches in one specific part of the body, you can still train other body parts.

For example, if you spent the previous day at the gym working on your upper body and your biceps, shoulders and chest feel sore, you can still go for a walk or ride the stationary bike. In order to lose weight on a constant and consistent basis, you want to have daily activity. Your legs are fine, so work them. Work around the problem.

If your entire body feels sore, take a day’s break or take a slow walk. You are the best judge. If you can move, then move. In fact, movement boosts your blood circulation and helps relieve the pain. Studies have shown that when you lightly work muscles that ache, the aches and pain diminish a little and the recovery process is sped up.

The second type of pain is due to a strain or sprain. This can happen if you execute a movement wrongly or you accidentally injure yourself. See a doctor for a proper diagnosis. If you sprain your ankle, you can still do concentration bicep curls and bench presses. The key here is to work parts of your body that are not affected by the pain.

Strained your rotator cuff? Go walking or stair climbing. Knees hurting? Do push-ups, pull-ups, hanging leg raises, etc. There are always ways around the problem.

The third type of pain is exhaustion. This is the kind of pain recruits in military boot camp feel. They need to push past their comfort levels while the drill sergeants are screaming at them. They have to run even when exhausted or do push-ups even when they can barely push themselves off the ground.

The reason they are pushed to this extent is so that they will improve and their wills will be tested and toughened. The Navy SEALs have a saying, “Nobody ever drowned in sweat.” Does that apply to you? Only you can be the judge of that.

You must look at your age and level of activity. If you feel giddy, extremely drained and unable to breathe… then STOP! You’re not training to be a soldier. It’s fine to challenge yourself and pant and gasp but you should not overdo it. Know your limitations.

Pressure may turn coal into diamonds… but it also turns it to dust. Train through the pain if you can handle it. Listen to your body. There have been many cases where people overdid their training and ended up suffering heat exhaustion. Some have fainted and some have even died.

Challenge yourself but be sensible about it. The weight loss journey is called a “journey” because it takes time. Do not try to rush things. Make measurable progress in reasonable time… and exercise common sense above all else.

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