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It’s possible to gain strength without going to the gym. It might seem hard to believe at first, but you don’t even need weights to improve your strength. In fact, bodyweight exercises like the pull-up are some of the most effective strength-building exercises.
Learning how to use your own body weight to improve strength is a journey that’s different from any other fitness quest. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
With bodyweight exercises, you can work out anywhere, anytime. You don’t need any special equipment, which is great if you travel a lot, want to save money on a gym membership or live somewhere without easy access to a gym.
Another benefit is the fact that bodyweight strength exercises do more than just build strength. They can also increase your flexibility, help you lose weight, improve your coordination and engage your brain, too.
Bodyweight workouts are typically more about using the whole body than weighted exercises are. To execute the more advanced movements, you have to learn how to use various muscle groups together. Rarely in situations outside the gym do you only use one muscle at a time.
Because of these facts, bodyweight training may be more applicable to real-life situations. Plus, if you stick with it, you might one day be able to perform impressive feats like the human flag.
Many bodyweight exercises look easier than they are, and those experienced with weight training often think they’ll be able to pull off advanced bodyweight exercises without much practice.
When getting started with bodyweight training, however, it’s important to respect your limitations and start where you are. Just like with other training programs, you need to build up to the advanced workouts. The strength you’ve acquired through other types of training will help you, but you’re also learning an entirely new skill.
Bodyweight training tends to force even experienced athletes to put their egos aside. Not heeding this call can lead to injury.
To help you build up your strength, you also need to use the progressive overload principle. As with other types of strength training, you need to gradually put more and more demand on your muscles so they get stronger over time. You might do this by decreasing the time it takes you to do repetitive exercises like pushups or pull-ups or increasing the amount of time for static exercises like the plank. Eventually, you can progress from standard pull-ups to one-arm pull-ups.
Another critical point that’s worth reiterating is to think about your whole body as you complete your exercises. Pay attention to all the muscles you’re engaging and you’ll be much more successful.
So what are some bodyweight exercises should you use to build your strength? Here are some to get started with:
- Pull-ups and chin-ups: Pull-ups and chin-ups are excellent exercises for working the upper body. Pull-ups work the lats harder, while chin-ups put more focus on the biceps. Once you’ve mastered the standard pull-up, you can move on to the around-the-world pull-up or try burpee pull-ups. For an even more advanced version, check out the muscle-up.
- Pushups: Pushups are another exceptional upper body exercise. The primary muscle they work is the chest. There are plenty of advanced variations for you to try, including decline pushups, diamond pushups and one-arm pushups.
- Squats: For working the lower body, try bodyweight squats. Also, try the wall squat and jump squat to take things to the next level.
- Planks: There are many different bodyweight exercises made for working the abs, and the plank is one of the best. You can add a twist or a pushup for an extra challenge.
You don’t necessarily need any equipment to do a great strength-building workout. If you know how to use it, all you really need is your bodyweight. These tips can help you get started, but where you take your bodyweight exercise journey from there is up to you.