I get asked a lot about workouts people can do at home and if it’s possible to gain muscle (hypertrophy) utilizing body weight exercise as opposed to lifting free weights and using resistance machines.
Now, before I carry on, I just want to let you know that I am just filling with excitement as I write this because I love body weight exercises and functional training and let’s be honest, if you can’t really move your own body weight and have complete control of strength over your own body, what good is being able to deadlift or squat heavy?
The body is your ultimate workout equipment, it is the greatest tool you have for life and it is to be weaponized in your favour to dominate your life in all areas. Not just physically but a body that has been forged for strength and power yields confidence and self esteem that pours into all other areas of your life and I am a big believer that physical fitness is the gateway to success in all areas of your life so why should fitness be only restricted to a gym?
Today I want to talk you through a complete workout you can do in your own home with a training plan for you to get started but before we do, let’s just discuss the science behind “Getting ripped”.
To me, exercise should be functional, in other words, it should facilitate to help movement to make you a faster, more efficient and powerful human being, not just to look good but I get it, vanity does have its place and since I started my own hypertrophy phase recently and following bodybuilding principles (something I’ve never really done up until now due to always training for fights and endurance), I have been noticing my muscles grow and darn it, I can’t help but look at myself and admire the physical changes! Ergo, getting ripped is a goal many of us have and it’s all about body composition (If you want more info on what I mean by body composition, check out the body composition article by clicking here). In a nutshell, Body composition is about building muscle and losing fat and as Martin Rooney says, Build muscle + burn fat = Feel better, and who doesn’t want to feel better about themselves?
Fat burning is one part of body composition and body weight training has been used a lot to help facilitate that (Sprinting is an ideal example of a body weight exercise for fat burning) but when it comes to muscle gain, most people think it’s nigh on impossible to build muscle without weight.
Granted, It’s probably going to be harder to build muscle without lifting heavy weights, and you certainly won’t be entering “Mr O” on a diet of press ups and pull ups alone but if a physique of a fighter, or there about, is what you’re after, keep reading!
There are two things you absolutely must do if you want to gain muscle with a body workout routine if you want to gain mass (and any resistance based workout too!)
Principle Number 1: Time Under Tension
Fundamentally, the number one training principle when it comes to muscle growth is a principle known as Time Under Tension or TUT – simply put, muscle grows with time under tension which is why tempo is an important factor in weight training for example, I’ll get my clients to do an exercise such as a bench press with an eccentric phase that is slower (typically 2-4 seconds or even longer depending n the program or the individual client’s needs) with a faster concentric phase (what that means is that the lowering of the weight, the eccentric, is done slower than the lifting of the weight, the concentric)
Principle Number 2: Progressive Overload
Another principle that is important to gaining muscle is the principle of progressive overload. This is basically saying that you need to keep changing the training variables to make the exercises challenging and continue to place stress on the body. The body adapts to stress by becoming fitter, stronger, bigger etc and once adapted, the same variable won’t make any changes or very little. The most obvious variable is load.. In other words, if we go back to our bench press example, you can bench press a load of 60kg with a total time under tension of 50 seconds per set but soon, you’ll be able to increase the load to say 65kg or 70kg etc.
The following video gives you a brief overview of the two principles discussed above.
Other training variables you can change and which will be important when we discuss body weight training include
– Rest periods
– Number of sets
That pretty much covers most that you will need to be concerned about, although in the case of building lean muscle to get shredded, some increase in load to increase TUT will be necessary however, tempo is the obvious choice to increase TUT.
We’ve established that utilising the correct training principles of time under tension and progressive overload, you can indeed gain muscle but there’s one more training principle that is important, especially when you’re relying solely on bodyweight training and that is
Of course, correct nutrition is important especially meeting calorie and protein requirement for your goals as well as adequate rest and recovery but I am going to assume you have those in check already. If you feel like you’re not there yet with nutrition or recovery then please search through our articles as we’ve shared plenty on these topics (or feel free to get in touch with us)
The other part of getting shredded and body composition is fat loss. Losing body fat is critical to getting shredded and body weight workouts can indeed help! As we mentioned above, one of the best fat burning exercises you can perform are sprints but you can perform any number of body weight exercises in line with High intensity inverval training principles of short intense bursts of activity followed by adequate rest and recovery periods.
You could do many workouts at home including sprints (you don’t need a 100m track in your house, you can easily sprint up and down the stairs or even on the spot!), burpees, mountain climbers, skipping, jumping jacks, box jumps etc – Cardio and fat burning is actually the easier things to program.
One of my favourite fat burning high intensity interval training protocols is tabata training. That is when you do 20 seconds of activity all out at maximum effort with a 10 second break. You repeat these 8 times so the workout is a full 4 minutes long including the 10 second breaks. You can even incorporate this into a circuit training format to get more work done.
Want to get a full body workout?, let’s look at the various body parts traditionally trained.
In classic bodybuilding, physique or transformational coaching programmes, you’ll look at the following areas to work on:-
Of course, they can be broken down into individual areas too but they pretty much cover all the areas you are going to work out when trying to meet an aesthetic goal of looking good naked – Although we believe it’s more than just looking good but also feeling great and being functional, a true functional athlete will be strong in all muscle groups and in all planes of motion – After all, you want your new found strength to relate to real life movements and situations so you can live life as an enhanced version of yourself, right?
I may create a blog post or video with body weight exercises or exercises you can do at home without much equipment for each body part so if I get enough interest (email or hit me up on social media) – I will create that!
In conclusion, we need to discuss putting it all together.
There are various ways you can program a workout. You can hit body parts, do training splits, create push/pull workouts and all of that sounds like you might require a degree in physiology so we’ve created a simple workout plan you can follow below
In this example, we’ve split workouts into upper body and lower body workouts you’ll be doing the body weight workouts twice a week for each part of the body with one or two cardio days thrown in.
We’ve not gone into too much detail here about sets, reps and tempo as it’s only here for a guide for the individual.
Back:- Pull Ups
Chest: Push Up
Shoulder : Elevated Pike Pushups
Triceps: Close Grip Push Ups
Biceps: Chin Ups
Body weight squats
Glute and Hamstring bridges
Hanging Leg Raises
Cardio: 10 x 100m Sprints