3 Ways To Build Muscle With Bodyweight Training

Written by Nick Nilsson Topics: Fitness

bodyweight trainingGuest Post By Nick Nilsson

Bodyweight training is awesome…however, due to the nature of bodyweight training (limited resistance), it can be tough to build substantial muscle mass with it.

That’s where I come in…

My name is Nick Nilsson (a.k.a. The “Mad Scientist of Muscle”) and these 3 “mad scientist” methods will help you build some serious mass with your bodyweight workouts.

1. Daily Specialization Training

This is incredibly simple yet incredibly effective…you’re going to take one good bodyweight exercise (ideally something that allows you to only get 4 to 6 reps to start with, like chins, for example) and you’re going to do one set to just short of failure first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

And you’re going to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY for 6 to 8 weeks.

If you’re familiar with the concept of “greasing the groove,” this is right along the same line. The idea is to get your nervous system tuned to that target movement pattern (which rapidly increases your strength), and get your muscular system used to allocating more recovery resources to those targeted muscles (which increases muscle mass).

You’re not putting in a tremendous amount of volume on each workout (one set), so you can work at a very high frequency without fear of overdoing it and setting yourself back.

Your muscles CAN recover from very frequent workouts, once you train it to do so.

Now, to give you an example of how this worked for me, I used handstand push-ups as my target exercise. The first time I did it, I actually couldn’t even do one full rep…I had to do controlled negatives for the first few days.

Gradually, over the course of two months, I built up my strength and endurance and worked up to a set of 40 reps.

And not only did this technique give me a massive increase in strength and endurance, it gave me a dramatic increase in shoulder muscle development as well.

When using this technique, do one set first thing in the morning and one set last thing at night, regardless of whether you’re training that same movement in your regular workout that day.

Continue this daily specialization until your progress starts to level off. Then you can either stop or move on to a different exercise.

2. Time/Volume Training

T/V Training is a form of density training I originally came up with specifically for bodyweight training, as a way to build muscle when you have a set resistance to work with (i.e. bodyweight).

If you’re not familiar with density training, the idea is to work within a set amount of time and gradually, over the course of a number of training sessions, perform more and more work within that set timeframe.

To do T/V Training, you’ll take a set block of time (I like to use 15 minute blocks for bigger exercises and bodyparts and 7 ½ minutes for smaller exercises and bodyparts) and perform repeated sets of 3 reps.

Ideally, you’ll want to use an exercise that would only allow about 10 to 20 reps in a “normal” set.

The point here is you’re going to be using training VOLUME, not intensity, to stimulate muscle growth. This is what makes it ideal for bodyweight movements.

The keys to making to T/V Training work are the rest periods. You’re going to be doing 3 rep sets, taking 10 seconds rest between sets, until you can no longer do 3 reps with good form (don’t push to failure AT ALL on any sets).

At that point, you’ll start taking 20 seconds rest in between sets. Keep repeating this until you can no longer get 3 good reps. Then take 30 seconds rest in between sets. Then 40 seconds rest, etc.

T/V Training allows you to “front load” your workout, meaning you’ll do more reps and more training volume while you’re still relatively fresh. Then, as you fatigue, you increase the rest periods, allowing you to continue adding workload without ever needing to change the resistance.

And just fyi, T/V Training works GREAT with free weight training as well, even though it’s particularly suited to bodyweight movements.

planche-2 3. Use New Exercises

Your body is incredibly efficient at acclimating to training stimuli…and that means the classic bodyweight exercises you’re doing on a regular basis, like push-ups and chins-ups, will rapidly start to lose their effectiveness for stimulating muscle growth.

THAT is when you need to change things up and hit the body with new movement patterns and angles of resistance.

You can do a lot with simply changing up your body position (like doing elevated-feet push-ups, for example) and working with variations of those classic exercises.

But if you’re serious about using bodyweight training to develop your physique to its maximum potential, you need to go beyond simple variations and learn new movements that are designed to utilize MORE of your bodyweight.

Plus, you need exercises that take full advantage of your training environment…for example, you may have a barbell or a bench or a chair in your home gym that you can use to change up exercise positions to add resistance to bodyweight movements.

That’s where I come in…as the “Mad Scientist of Muscle,” creation and innovation of exercises is what I’m best at.

I’ve put together a collection of 85 killer new bodyweight movements that will challenge your strength while putting maximum resistance on your muscles with bodyweight as the primary resistance.

These exercises range from pure bodyweight movements, to exercises using very basic apparatus (such as benches and bars), to exercises that combine bodyweight with additional resistance in the form of things like bands and sandbags.

You can check out and try out 5 of these exercises HERE.

The Bottom Line Is This…

Bodyweight training is awesome…but if you want to use it to build maximum muscle mass, you have to get creative both in the ways you program your workouts and in the exercises, you’re using within that programming.

Standard exercises and training approaches will only get you so far. Put these two training methods to work and take those 5 sample exercises for a test drive.

THEN you’ll know exactly how to build serious muscle with bodyweight.

Check out those 5 sample exercises HERE

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