Top 10 Bodyweight Exercises to Maximize Muscle Growth

Bodyweight exercises are done solely with your bodyweight.

You’ll be pulling, pushing, jumping, and executing any other movement with only your body weight as resistance.

It may appear straightforward, but you’ll be amazed at how tough you can make with minor adjustments, such as changing your hand position or changing the number of sets and reps you do.

Can bodyweight routines help you gain muscle mass?

With only callisthenics, an expert lifter close to his genetic muscular potential may struggle to maintain all of their muscle mass (particularly in their legs and spinal erectors). On the flip side, bodyweight training can help a skinny starter grow muscle, and the rate of progress will be nearly comparable to that of free weights.

Bodyweight exercises can also help you build general strength. Maybe not for advanced powerlifters who measure their strength in squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, but for the rest of us. There’s no reason to believe that our ability to perform push-ups and chin-ups is any less predictive of strength than our ability to deadlift.

10 bodyweight workouts to help you gain muscle mass

1. Push-ups

The very popular push-up is a timeless classic, and it’s also pretty simple to do. If today is your first day in the civilized world, here’s how you should go about it:

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  • Get down on all fours and prop yourself up with your hands, just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Arms and legs should be straight.
  • Lower yourself to the point when your chest is almost touching the floor.
  • Hold there for a moment.
  • Push your body back up.
  • Repeat

2. Wide-grip pull-ups

The wide-grip pull-up, one of the best bodyweight exercises for muscle building, is a challenge regardless of how strong you are. It also acts as a full-body workout that fitness enthusiasts can do at home. 

How to do it:

  • With your palms facing outward, arms fully stretched, and your hands as far apart as you can (comfortably) muster, grab the pull-up bar.
  • As you elevate your chin above the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale, and bring your elbows toward your hips.
  • Lower yourself into the starting position carefully.
  • Repeat

3. Burpees

This calorie-burner stimulates muscles all over the body and packs a gym session’s worth of training into one convenient workout. 

How to do it

  • Begin in a squat stance, knees bent, back straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Drop your hands to the floor in front of you, so there’s inside your feet.
  • Kick your feet back with your weight on your hands, so you’re on your hands and toes and in a push-up position.
  • Do one push-up while keeping your body straight from head to heels. It’s important not to let your back slump or your butt in the air.
  • Do a frog kick and Jump your feet to their starting position.
  • Raise your arms over your head as you stand.
  • Quickly swing into the air and land where you began.
  • Get into a squat position as soon as you land with your knees bent and repeat.
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4. Chin-up l-sit

  • With an underhand grip, hang from a pull-up bar.
  • Bring your legs up parallel to the floor by contracting your core and bringing them together.
  • From here, raise yourself until your chin is above the bar by contracting your upper back.
  • Between reps, lower to a dead hang.

5. Pike push-up

How to do it

  • Begin by doing a push-up with your arms straight and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift your hips to create an upside-down V with your body, maintaining your legs and arms as straight as possible.
  • Lower your upper body by bending your elbows until the top of your head is almost touching the floor.
  • Return to the starting point and repeat this process.

6. Dead hang

Any chinks in your armor are revealed by forcing the body to hold a position under tension. The dead hang reveals any flaws in your lats and grip, much like the plank does with your shoulders, core, glutes, and thighs. A low-impact strength fix is to hold that pose for longer.

How to do it

  • With your palms facing forwards, grab the bar with an overhand grip and hang fully. This exercises your grip strength while decompressing your spine for better posture.
  • To increase the impact, add a mild side-to-side swing or switch up the grip — narrow, broad, underhand, or single-arm.

7. Straight arm plank

This is a double-twisted version of the classic plank. Straight arms work your chest harder, and full strain keeps your heart pounding quickly for an added fat-burning benefit. Squeezing every muscle during a move engages more muscle fibers than just those targeted by the exercise, turning a low-energy exercise into a full-body shock that melts fat.

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How to do it

  • Start in a plank position, with your arms straight and your weight evenly distributed between your hands and toes.
  • Maintain a straight line with your body, feet together, and upper arms straight down from your shoulders.
  • Squeeze every muscle in your body, starting with your chest and stomach and working your way down to your glutes and calves.

At the end of each set, you should be shaking.

8. Spider crawl

This workout, often known as the spider walk, tightens your core and increases muscle almost everywhere. If you do it correctly, you’ll see the effects soon.

How to do it

  • Begin by doing a push-up.
  • Raise one foot off the ground and bring one knee to your elbow.
  • Take a moment to check that you’re compressing your core.
  • Return to your initial position.
  • Switch sides. Repeat.

9. Close-grip push-ups

Switch to this style when regular push-ups become too easy.

How to do it

  • Get down on all fours and prop yourself up with your hands, which should not be shoulder-width apart but close together.
  • Straighten your arms and legs as much as possible.
  • Lower yourself to the floor. You don’t need to go any lower than 90 degrees.
  • Hold your breath for a moment.
  • Exhale as you push your body back up
  • Repeat.

10. Bodyweight dips

How to do it

  • Stand with your back to a bed, chair, or bench.
  • Hold it in both hands, shoulder-width apart.
  • Extend your legs in front of you as far as they will go.
  • Lower your body gradually by flexing your elbows until your forearm forms a 90-degree angle. 
  • Using your triceps, lift your body back to the starting position.

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