Build Muscle with Bodyweight

It’s often thought of the most difficult thing to do with the human body is lose body fat.

It turns out, in fact, that’s not quite the case. It seems building muscle is one of the most difficult things to do(besides becoming a professional athlete 😉)

There’s a few tips and tricks out there that are sure to get you some meat on your bones without making you artificially inflated like so many bodybuilders are.

But first, let’s dive down this rabbit hole of how this concept came to be. After all, it’s a strange concept, seeing that most people accomplish this type of training with dumbbells and barbells. 🤔

Several years ago, short on time (but not on willpower) to train, I was struggling to keep up with everything in my life…

I had recently separated from my wife of almost 10 years and decided it was time to start fresh with everything in my life, which meant doing something I’ve always wanted to do – open my own gym. This, of course, meant struggling to find the time/money to balance everything in my life and still be able to afford to live on my own.

This meant a part time job(late at night after my classes) finding time to spend with my kids, and still keeping focused on growing the business. 90 hour work weeks were not uncommon and it left little time for training and obviously sleep.

Spending hours in the gym just wasn’t an option(besides for training folks that is)

So I came up with a plan to get strong with zero equipment, and it wound up losing a few pounds of body fat, in addition to adding some mass to my frame.

The concept is simple, pick an upper body and lower body movement each training day and train opposing movements each session (i.e. push/pull for upper and lower body)

Here’s the kicker, I used Tim Ferriss’ concept of extremely slow repetitions, or “Time Under Tension”(TUT) to build strength and mass.

Needless to say, we aren’t just going through the motions here, we are 100% committed to every repetition and having damn near perfect form as we do each rep.

The TUT should be around 4 seconds per contraction(that’s 4 seconds down – eccentric, pause for 1, 4 seconds up – concentric). If you’ve done a workout program before, this would look like (4:1:4) or (4:1:4:0) (the 4th number is the amount of time before the next repetition starts)

It’s important to understand that this slow of training does not help with any sport or cardiovascular type of training, so take it for what it’s worth, muscle & strength building.

If you need to switch up versions of movements to keep good form, you’ll still get awesome results, just remember Quality>Quantity, every time.

Here’s the program:

You’ll be training three days a week and alternating between pushing and pulling movements.

This should allow enough recovery from one movement type before you get back to the next session.

Day 1 – push (Mon)
Push-ups. 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps. (4:1:4)
Pistol or Sissy Squats. 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps. (4:1:4)

Day 2 – pull (Weds)
TRX Rows 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps (4:4:4)
Single leg elevated bridges 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps (4:4:4)

Day 3 (A) – Heavy Push/Light Pull (Friday)
Bulgarian Split Squats 5 sets of 10-15 reps/side (4:1:4)
One Arm Push-up 5 sets of 10-15 reps/side (2:1:2)
Batwing Holds(wall or floor) 5, 5 second holds
StrongFirst Hip Bridge 3 x 5 (1:5:1:5)

Day 3 (B) – Light Push/Heavy Pull (Friday)
Bulgarian Split Squats 3 sets of 10 reps/side (4:1:4)
One Arm Push-up 3 sets of 10 reps/side (2:1:2)
Batwing Holds(wall or floor) 5, 10 second holds
StrongFirst Hip Bridge 5 x 5 (1:5:1:5)

(Alternate between Day 3 (A) and (B) each week to balance things out a bit. )

This may be very simple looking but it will definitely get you not only the strength but the muscle that you need.

Remember to pick the appropriate version of every movement. It doesn’t matter if you are doing push-ups on a countertop or a wall, make sure that you were doing something that you know you can get through the movements with, it’s less about doing a difficult version of the movement and more about maintaining that time under tension and good movement patterns.

Now, we need to talk about diet…

You should stick with this plan for at least six weeks. Each week will give you the opportunity to explore some muscle building diet tips that will help you make progress. Do not do all of them at once because if you change everything at once you’re not going to know what to change back if something doesn’t work.

By implementing one piece at a time you’ll be able to track in your training journal how this is affected you and whether or not it’s something that you want to continue doing.

First, the protein shake. Don’t do anything your first training day. Your second day at a pre-training shake. The third day at a pre-and post training shake. It should be a minimum of 20 g of protein per serving. On day three you can try adding one more protein serving before you go to bed. If this seems to work well continue doing the bedtime protein shake First, the protein shake. Even on days you’re not training. If it seems to work well you can do the morning and evening shakes.

Next, creatine. Try 5 g of creatine pre-workout on day one, with breakfast on day two, and before bed on day three to see which works best. (this is assuming that the protein that you’re taking does not already have creatine) Different people find that this works better at different times of day, so play around with it and see what works best for you.

The magic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Be picky here, go with a whole or sprouted grain bread, low sugar jelly, and natural peanut butter(no trans fats). Start with one between breakfast/lunch, then between lunch/dinner.

Don’t Skip Quality! With everything you eat, go for the best quality food you can afford… You don’t have to buy organic everything, but try and get whole foods as much as possible and avoid “cardboard carbs”(i.e. comes in a box or bag). Focus on protein first when planning meals and shoot for 20-30 grams per meal. Do about two cupped handfuls of quality carbs, and two thumbs worth of fats. Fill the rest of your plate in with vegetables(do not skip veggies).

Stick with this for at least 6 weeks and see what kind of results you’ll get. After that, shoot me an email – [email protected]ntwb.com to find out what to do next.

Stay Strong My Friends!

~Justin