Body Weight Workouts For Muscle Mass


build muscle without weights

For those of you who want to workout at your own home gym, you might be asking yourself, ‘can you really build muscle without weights?

So many times you’ve read that the most important thing for building muscle mass is that constant tension overload – which comes from adding more weight.

But, is this the only way to build muscle fast?

Or, can you really see great results doing a home bodybuilding program? 

You have a limited budget so buying a bunch of free weights just isn’t an option, but you don’t want to forgo improving your fitness any longer.

Let’s go over a few points to know and realize when asking this question and then talk about what you can do to boost the chances that you can build muscle fast without weight. You can also check similar information on home workouts for beginners.

Build Muscle Without Weights & Your Skill Level

The very first thing to take into account is the skill level you are currently at. If you are a beginner who has never lifted weights in your life, then yes, you can definitely build muscle with body weight workouts.

Simply using your own body weight will act as enough of a resistance load to stimulate the muscle cells and spark more lean muscle mass growth.

If you are someone who is more advanced however and have been lifting weights for years, then moving over to a bodyweight workout program is not likely going to be sufficient to challenge your muscles.

Since you will have already attained a good level of strength, your own body weight may no longer challenge you appropriately, and as such, it’s harder to see results.

You may see some progress if you use enough intricate workout programming techniques, but realize that progress is going to be limited.


Will You Be Using Any Equipment?

Next, also consider whether or not you are using any equipment other than your own body.  For instance, if you get a hold of a TRX suspension trainer, this can add a new dynamic to your workouts, increasing the resistance level and helping you to build muscle mass.

Likewise, having resistance bands to work with would also produce another very viable option where, if they are tense enough, they can lead to good strength and size gains.

The key is using equipment that doesn’t add external weight, but still makes your muscles work harder than they are used to.

How Much Mass Do You Want To Gain?

Also take into account just how much total muscle you want to gain.

Do you want to build 5 pounds of muscle? 10 pounds? 20 pounds?

The more muscle you plan to build, the less likely you are to do it without weights.  While you might be able to get away with building five or maybe 10 pounds if you are a beginner, beyond that, you will likely need some form of external resistance.


What’s Your Eating Plan Currently Like?

Finally, also, take into account what your current eating plan is like. Are you consuming sufficient calories? If you are not eating over and beyond what you need to maintain your body weight, this means that you won’t be building any muscle regardless of the workout you are doing.

To build more muscle, you need to eat a higher calorie diet plan.  This is the same regardless of whether you are using weights or not. In addition to having a sufficient calorie intake, you should still treat your strength training bodyweight workouts the same as you would a regular weight lifting workout, making sure to eat a proper level of protein and carbohydrates immediately after each session. Nothing will change in this regard because you will still be breaking down the muscle tissues and requiring the fast fuel immediately after to jump start the recovery process.

So make sure that you have a look at your meal plan and see that it stacks up as it should.

Now that you know whether you can in fact build muscle without weights, if you do decide you are someone who likely can, how can you ensure that it’s a success? What do you need to be doing to your program to move forward?

Let’s look at the things to consider.

The Exercise Selection

First, as you select your exercises, make sure that you are using as compound movements as possible. This means push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and step ups. All will work multiple muscles at once, leading to more total strength gains.

Try and vary your exercises as often as you can as well. Do regular push-ups one week and the next, do triangle push-ups.  Try pull-ups one week and next week, make it chin-ups.

Small changes like this will keep the body adjusting and adapting – and you growing stronger.

Rep Ranges

Since you aren’t going to be lifting any weight, you’ll also want to take the rep ranges higher as well. Don’t be afraid to take bodyweight movements into the 20-30 rep range or possibly even higher.

You do have to overload the muscle somehow and if weight isn’t doing it, total work load will.  Go until you are hitting that point of fatigue and it gets very challenging to do another rep. That’s how you’ll know you’ve done enough to prompt results.

Rest Periods

As far as your rest periods go, keep these lower as well. By shortening up your rest periods while you increase the total reps, this forces the body to have to work harder in each and every workout you do.

Again, seeing results is all going to be about pushing the body to the limit, getting it to do things that it hasn’t done before.

Your rest, your sets, and your reps are all things that will have an influence over how hard you are working.

Just note that you should never take your rest periods so short that you sacrifice good form. Form must always stay intact, just as it needs to when lifting with weights as well.


Finally, you might also want to consider the tempo in which you are lifting.  Slowing down an exercise is also a good way to make it more challenging and to place more strain on the muscle.

If you usually lift with a 2-second count to lift the weight, no pause at the top, and a 1-second count to lower, try using a 3:1:3 pattern and see if that doesn’t feel more challenging to you.

Tempo is a great way to increase the total time under tension of the moves you do, making them that much more challenging.

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So keep these key points in mind if you are making the decision of whether to move to training without weights. There are many advantages to doing so such as less stress on the joints and a lower chance of overtraining, however if being able to build muscle mass is a goal for you, you do need to make sure that you are setting your program up correctly. For additional information on increasing muscle mass you can check out my article on the best supplements for building mass.

Failing to do so could result in wasting months of training with little to show for it.

-Terry Asher

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Gym Junkies Founder & Editor in Chief at Gym Junkies LLC
I’m Terry and I’m here to help you achieve your fitness goals. I truly believe anyone can achieve the figure they want with the proper guidance. Through my extensive fitness blog, top fitness videos, leading workout supplements, and top selling eBooks, I have been able to help thousands of people online lose weight, tone up and get in shape. My passion is helping people all around the world change their lives for the better.
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Body Weight Workouts For Muscle Mass
For those of you who want to workout at your own home gym, you might be asking yourself, ‘can you really build muscle without weights?
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Gym Junkies
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