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Bodyweight and Hypertrophy

So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies!

Search for a “death by bodyweight” article on here somewhere, that has some useful hints. If you are creative enough I bet you could come up with some good workouts but eventually I think you’ll need weights.

You’re not going to gain much with just bodyweight.

I would suggest buying an olympic weight set. for a couple of $100-200 brand new.

You can make great gains with just an olympic weight set.

You can still do squats. You can do front squats. And you can also do lighter weight and high rep back squats squats. You can power clean, deadlift (sumo, straight legged, romanian), milit press, bent over rows.

Later on you can invest in a bench for bench press and a rack for squats/bench, another couple of hundred dollars.

Yes you can get a bigger and stronger until you are in a better financial situation. The key will be to make the exercises harder over time. sets of 50 pushups that you breeze through, bad, sets of 10 with a bookbag full of heavy books that make you want to cry, good.

[quote]razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies![/quote]

It’s possible to gain some, but it’s going to take a lot of ingenuity and knowledge of how to make bodyweight exercises more challenging if you want to gain muscle mass using only bodyweight. Gymnasts do it, but it takes them years and once again you really need to understand how to make bodyweight exercises progressively more difficult.

It would certainly be much easier though to just do as wooldog suggested and invest in an olympic weight set. Not only are exercises/information much easier to come by, but you’ll have a basically unlimited amount of weight that you can add to it.

Unless you ever plan on doing exercises like iron cross, maltese, planche and the transitions between the moves on rings, don’t ever expect bodyweight exercises to build the type of musculature that you see on elite gymnasts (and even then, unless you’ve got the genetic make-up it’s still probably not gonna happen).

Also, do not forget about diet. Which ever road you choose to follow, if you’re not eating enough to promote growth, no routine is going to give you the results you’re after.

You might be able to gain some size in the short run but the truth is this:

If you take the next 12 months, you’ll be a lot farther ahead spending months 1-6 focusing on bringing up your financial situation and not worrying about training. In months 7-12 get into a good gym and hit it hard. Your gains would be better than spending the whole year training w/ your bodyweight.

Sorry if that’s insensitive or anything, but if you can’t afford a gym membership, (a good gym in most parts of the country will be 25-50 dollars a month), then that kind of paucity will severely limit your size and strength building efforts until it is resolved. Which I’m sure you realize…

Conversely, if it’s just a short term thing, like you’re a student who’s run out of money for the semester or something, there’s plenty you can do. I’d recommend Pavel’s ‘Naked Warrior’…it likely won’t build much mass, (although your triceps will blow up if you master one-arm pushups), but you’ll develop grinding strength that will potentiate explosive size gains once you start a conventional lifting program.

Good luck

BW exercises can get you fit, muscular and strong but probably not huge. I have yet to see a huge gymnast!

If you want to put on significant amount of muscle you probably need to lift.

If you want to look good nekkid you can do it w/ BW training.

And of course you need proper diet to maximize results.

[quote]razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies![/quote]

Don’t listen to these guys, you can build plenty of mass with bodyweight movements. You can build a physique better than 90% of the Abercrombie lightweights here if you put your mind to it.

You will definately need to purchase a pullup bar if you don’t have a decent substitute.

Here a some good mass building bodyweight exercises:

Upper Body:

Pullups (duh)
Lever Pullups
One-Arm pushups
Dips on boxes
Hand-Stand Pushups

Lower Body:

Glute-Ham Raises
One-Legged squats (pistols)
Car Pushing
Sprint Intervals

A backpack with something in it will allow weight progression. Sets/reps and shorter rest periods are also ways to progress.

If you come across a bit of spare change, buy a cheapo dumbell set from walmart for $20, buy a few plates for another $20-$30 and you can now do snatches, rows, combos, one-legged deadlifts and many other movements.

Just remember to eat surplus calories, 24-50 total reps is hypertrophy range, and to progress.

youre welcome.

[quote]uberswank wrote:

Don’t listen to these guys, you can build plenty of mass with bodyweight movements. You can build a physique better than 90% of the Abercrombie lightweights here if you put your mind to it.
[/quote]

Plenty? Well that all depends on his goals now doesn’t it. I think Zap hit the nail on the head when he said that if the guy wants to put on a significant amount of muscle (read bodybuilder type muscle) then he’ll probably have to lift weights.

I also agree with him that I’ve never seen a hyooge gymnast. Sure, gymnasts are muscular and ripped, but none of them could walk onto the olympia stage and come away with the Sandow.

Everyone here has already agreed that the OP can put on some muscle using bodyweight exercises, but that if he wants to get hyooge, then he needs to lift.

Rings would be an even better purchase, but good suggestion anyhow.

Not a bad list, but technically “car pushing” is not a bodyweight exercise, that would fall under “strong man”. If we were talking about cheap alternatives then yeah, car pushing would be a great suggestion. As would sand bags, tire flipping, rocks, partner resisted exercise, etc…

I agree.

Is there a privately owned gym near you?
Offer to sweep or mop for a greatly reduced membership.
How about YMCA? They are inexpensive.
Garage sales for weights?

[quote]razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies![/quote]

I’m just curious, how old are you? What have you been lifting for 4 years if you can’t afford to go to a gym?

You’ll be able to gain some size. You obviously won’t be able to achieve the size of say, a competitive bodybuilder, but you can build a strong, athletic physique with a bodyweight routine.

If you can afford it, invest in a kettlebell and/or a couple of heavy dumbbells. With those you can add in things like DB/kettlebell snatches and cleans, as well as goblet squats, DB squats, DB lunges, step-ups, etc.

[quote]razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies![/quote]

A story,

I started lifting with a friend at his dad’s gym. It was an old plastic coated bb set. Tops 110lbs. We worked on the basic lifts until we where doing the 110 for our first sets for 13 to 15 reps.

I moved on to another gym, while he stayed using his dad’s 110lb set. After 2 years I was doing 225 for 10 in the squat. He was still using 110lbs.

After 5 years he was still the same, only more cut. He never moved from doing the 110lbs workouts.

[quote]sawadeekrob wrote:
razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies!

A story,

I started lifting with a friend at his dad’s gym. It was an old plastic coated bb set. Tops 110lbs. We worked on the basic lifts until we where doing the 110 for our first sets for 13 to 15 reps.

I moved on to another gym, while he stayed using his dad’s 110lb set. After 2 years I was doing 225 for 10 in the squat. He was still using 110lbs.

After 5 years he was still the same, only more cut. He never moved from doing the 110lbs workouts.

[/quote]

interesting illustration of why progressive resistance matters when getting stronger and bigger.

Exercise without weights can be great for some movements, there are various ways of doing near-handstand presses for shoulders which most serious gym goers couldnt do easily because it’s virtually a bodyweight overhead press (I think Lalanne had one in his name, off a chair bent at the hips). However there will be limits to some muscle groups, especially the powerful muscles of the legs for example.

Anyone who says bodyweight exercises can’t build mass is wrong.

Intensity can be ramped up to ridiculous levels with bodyweight exercises. You just have to know what you are doing.

[quote]sawadeekrob wrote:
razoreddarkness wrote:
So I’ve been lifting for about four years now, and i can’t afford a gym membership. Does anyone know if it is possible to gain muscle mass with bodyweight only? Thanks for any replies!

A story,

I started lifting with a friend at his dad’s gym. It was an old plastic coated bb set. Tops 110lbs. We worked on the basic lifts until we where doing the 110 for our first sets for 13 to 15 reps.

I moved on to another gym, while he stayed using his dad’s 110lb set. After 2 years I was doing 225 for 10 in the squat. He was still using 110lbs.

After 5 years he was still the same, only more cut. He never moved from doing the 110lbs workouts.

[/quote]

Good thing your story had nothing to do with anything. Glad you told us.

[quote]Racarnus wrote:
Anyone who says bodyweight exercises can’t build mass is wrong.

Intensity can be ramped up to ridiculous levels with bodyweight exercises. You just have to know what you are doing.[/quote]

What does he weigh? Big arms? Yes. The rest of him looks tiny.

Your second statement has nothing to do with your first. Gymnasts choose their size as it optimizes their ability to carry their own bodyweight and win competitions, not because of a failure of bodyweight exercises to build mass. Load is load. As long as you can create the progressively greater quantities of resistance, it doesn’t matter. Bodyweight exercises exist that are beyond the genetic ability of most people to achieve in their lifetime.

[quote]Racarnus wrote:
BW exercises can get you fit, muscular and strong but probably not huge. I have yet to see a huge gymnast!

Your second statement has nothing to do with your first. Gymnasts choose their size as it optimizes their ability to carry their own bodyweight and win competitions, not because of a failure of bodyweight exercises to build mass. Load is load. As long as you can create the progressively greater quantities of resistance, it doesn’t matter. Bodyweight exercises exist that are beyond the genetic ability of most people to achieve in their lifetime.[/quote]

Show me someone that has gotten huge w/ BW only routines. And don’t give me Hershel Walker because he lifed weights too.

And yes my statements are related. As people get bigger they lose the ability to do many BW exercises.