Transform your body without fancy equipment. If you do not have access to a gym, or don’t have the time or money to get weights or special equipment, you may think you are out of luck when it comes to building muscle.
Don’t be deceived; bodyweight exercises can build enormous strength and muscle. It may seem that your weight is fixed and that the muscle building and conditioning will come to a halt at some point, but this is not true if you follow a progression of increasingly more difficult versions of bodyweight exercises.
In order to make an exercise more difficult, simply decrease the amount of leverage. Straighten your legs, work out at a greater angle or increase the intensity or speed.
Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can perform. They offer a nice steady learning curve as well. If you are unable to do even one push-up, then start on the wall, move to the kitchen counter, then do push-ups with your knees up and, finally, military push-ups. But don’t stop there. A standard military push-up is a great bodyweight exercise, but then try one handed push-ups or, better yet, add a clap between reps. Clapping between reps will really build muscles quickly. The explosive force needed to clap makes the muscles contract and expand quickly, which creates fast muscle gains.
Squats are another standard bodyweight exercise that will force your body to build muscle. Start with a standard squat, do wide stance, close stance and finally move to jumping squats. Jumping squats will make your legs and lungs burn. Your lower body strength will increase substantially if you stick with this bodyweight exercise. Repeating the crouching down and exploding into the air until failure has a way of building muscles that no machine can compete with. Functional strength and endurance is an added benefit.
Dips build muscles by using your bodyweight to work against the triceps, shoulders and chest. Decrease the amount of leverage and keep your hands close together to increase the muscle building benefit.
Chin ups will build serious size when done regularly. Train your biceps and back while hanging at the local playground if you don’t have a chin up bar. The short monkey bars are actually good for you, since you can bend your knees; straighten your legs to make it more difficult on your muscles. Done slowly, the chin up is a great bodyweight exercise.
Burpees are the king of bodyweight exercises. Combine the squat, pushup and jump in one exercise for a full body workout. Form is extremely important when doing any of the bodyweight exercises, but especially a burpee since it is so challenging. Start with both feet close together. Squat and put your hands on the ground. Now quickly stretch your legs back as if you are going to do pushup, because you are. Do one regular military pushup and then jump back up to start and do it again.