Bodyweight training is all the rage these days and if you have heard about it and want to know more, you are likely to find an abundance of books, articles, ebooks and even videos on the topic. This is great news for anyone who is looking for ways to build functional strength and enhance their overall health using bodyweight exercises. However, there is not much information out there on how to use bodyweight exercises to gain muscle mass, which is unfortunate for weightlifters who are looking for an alternate way to work out and bulk up.
Most people are stuck in a rut when it comes to their weight training regimen. They want to try out something new but they are not sure whether it is effective or not and they are hesitant about trying something new just in case it does not work. The problem is, people have yet to understand exactly how bodyweight training works and how it can be used to build up muscle mass. Admittedly, if your ultimate goal is to acquire the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger, you cannot achieve this with bodyweight training alone. However, you can build impressive muscle mass and give your functional strength a tremendous shot in the arm (and everywhere else) with consistent bodyweight training.
How Bodyweight Training Helps To Build Muscle Mass
When you use bodyweight exercises, you use functional muscle. This is the muscle that actually works to improve your health instead of working against your health. To put this in perspective, have you ever heard how some of the most beefy bodybuilders were not actually as healthy as they looked on the outside? Instead, they all had some thing or the other wrong with them. This is because, they build up muscle mass by working against their muscles instead of with them. So, while they may look impressively bulky, they are not doing their health any favors.
Check out this Forgotten Principle: Time Under Tension (TUT)
Time Under Tension (TUT) is essentially the amount of time you put your body under stress while performing any particular movement. It used to be a very popular training principle but the increasing popularity of the more interesting circuit training workouts have relegated the TUT principle to the background.
It is a misconception that you can put on lean muscle mass with just with circuit training alone. The truth is, if you are to attain your hypertrophy goals, you are going to have to incorporate the principles of TUT into your workout regiment. This simply means that your muscles should be engaged under stress for a minimum of 30-70 seconds for any noticeable hypertrophy to take place.
This is in direct contrast to Circuit Training where the whole focus is on speed. You have a certain variety of exercises in the routine and you have to move fast between exercises. In fact, you would probably spend on an average just ½ a minute on each exercise. At that rate, it is impossible to bulk up your muscles.
If you want to build muscle mass and functional strength, the best way to do it is with bodyweight training, which is based on the TUT principle.
Build Muscles Mass using the 3-pronged approach:
- Compound exercises
- Antagonistic Supersets
When creating your exercise routine, it is best to incorporate compound movements. Considering that 95% of the movements are compound movements, this shouldn’t be too complicated. An example of a compound movement is a back movement done after a chest movement. Another equally effective technique is to alternate between upper and lower body movements. The main thing is to avoid working out the same muscle groups one after the other.
Do you know what is one of the greatest things about supersets? When you work on different muscle groups consecutively, you can actually condense your mass building workouts.
Let’s consider this practically. Let’s suppose you are performing a set of pull-ups followed by a set of pushups.
In a more traditional muscle mass workout you would do 3sets of 5 Pull-ups with a 1 minute rest between each set followed by 3 sets of 10 Pushups with a 1 minute rest between sets.
Instead of doing it this way, a far better approach would be to alternate between the two different types of exercise. When you do it this way, you can rest for a shorter period while seeing some stunning results in the end.
Here’s how you do it:
Perform 1 set of pull-ups. Rest.
During this time, your chest muscles are still at rest. This means your chest will get 30 seconds rest post push-ups+ 60 seconds rest ( 60 seconds is the time it takes to complete each set) + 30 seconds rest post the pull-ups. When you add it together, you will see that each of your muscle groups get a full 120 second rest period. This is great for anybody who is looking to build their muscle mass as the muscles actually grow during the rest periods. .
Take a look at what a superset mass building workout looks like:
Do 3 rounds of:
- 10 reps Pushups
- 30 seconds rest
- 5 reps Pull-ups
- 30 seconds test
- Return to pushups
Last But Not Least: Your Exercise Tempo For Build
The speed in which you complete each movement will have a significant impact on your muscle mass. Since our main is to bring about an increase in the TUT per movement, you should aim to perform the movements at a much, much slower pace.
Here are the 3 areas wherein it is possible to slow down the movements:
- Concentric: This is the rising or elevating part of the movement, e.g. pulling your body up while performing pull-ups
- Eccentric: This is the lowering or descending part of the movements, e.g. lowering your body while performing pushups
- Isometric: This refers to the stance that you have to hold for a specified period of time, e.g. holding the bottom position during a squat.
A Few TUTs, er… Thoughts
You’ve learnt several new concepts today, the most useful of which is the TUT principle. While incorporating these new concepts into your workout is not complicated, if your main aim is to build muscle mass and not simply lose weight, you need to just remember to decrease the tempo of any particular movement.