Simple Muscle Building At-Home (Minimal Equipment Required!)
Bodyweight workouts at home are great for a bit of cardio, but you can’t actually build MUSCLE without weights…right?
This is common knowledge; except that it’s just not true. Muscle CAN be built while training at-home, with pretty much just body weight or very light weights. And today, I’m going to give you a very simple method to try for 4 weeks
First, the science of building muscle at home
As of now, there seems to be enough evidence to support the idea that mechanical tension is the primary driver of muscle growth. That means any sort of tension, even that of your own body weight rather than external weights can be effective (also bands, dumbbells or other forces which create tension.
Most of us have learned how to build muscle by progressively adding weight to certain movements. For most of us men, the most common example of this is the bench press.
And certainly, it’s easier to gain MORE muscle using the bench press than the classic push-up, right? Well, a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research set out to test if this was actually correct.
This study uses 2 groups to perform 3 sets of 6-8 reps of either: A) Bench Press or B) Push Ups.
One of the key aspects of this study is that they used objective overload: Basically, once the rep and set objective was hit, a regulated progression was introduced. The progressive overload for the bench was just what most of us would employ: Increase the weight. For the push-ups, the overload included 9 different push up variations.
Each group did 3 sessions a week with a few tests at the beginning and end. And the results might surprise you. When testing the 1RM bench, although there was a slightly greater increase from the benching group, both groups increased their 1RM bench even though the push-up group didn’t do a single bench press for the whole month.
Then they tested a push-up progression where those that trained push-ups outperformed the bench group significantly.
And maybe most interesting, they tested the muscle size of both. And the push-up group built 4x as much muscle as the bench group! Although it’s likely that with a longer study and more participants, these results would have been closer together, the results were still significantly better for the push-up group.
Summary: Using just a body weight movement at home, intermediate lifters built MORE muscle than a similar group using weights.
And, as pointed out by Calvin Huynh in T Nation (https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-benching-vs-push-ups-the-shocking-science), push-ups and other bodyweight movements often lead to less injury because the joints and muscle patterns are able to go through closed-chain version with more allowed variability for different movement patterns based on anatomy.
Makes you re-think the power of push-ups and (hopefully) bodyweight movements in general, right?
The 4-Week Program
So that’s the science behind building muscle at-home. Now, let’s put it into practice. Below is an example of a 4-week cycle, 3 training sessions per week, with 3 different exercise-patterns: Pushing, Pulling and Squatting.
Each movement is performed for 4 sets of 6-8 reps per set. Every single movement includes a 2-second eccentric contraction. You can take up to 2min rest between each set. Once all 4 sets can be performed for 8 reps with the correct eccentric contraction and NO FORM BREAKDOWN, you may progress.
There are 3 sessions per week with a different variation of each movement.
- Push Ups
- Bent Over Rows
- Split Squats
- Wide-Grip/Handstand Push Ups
- Pull Ups
- Narrow-Grip Push Ups
- Single arm rows
- Lateral Step Squats
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