It is not something that is often, but it is possible. I think to have a good breakdown, we need to understand what muscle is and how it’s tissue works for it to build. Muscle is a tissue made of cells, it is composed mostly of water and protein.
For muscle to build, it must tear and then repair, the main ways to ensure this is to have resistance, usually in the form of weights, but in this case we’re trying to do this without the weights, therefore just understand that the muscle needs to tear and repair.
Muscle like any other tissue of the body repairs on its own, but for it to grow, it requires the nutrition that will ensure its growth, mainly protein is absorbed by muscle tissue. Eat 2,2 g of protein per kg or 1 g per lbs of body weight to ensure that your muscles are fed.
To make it easier for you to build muscle, it is best to be in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn) daily because your body tends to want to take energy from the stored fuel (glucose from carbs) and then muscle tissue and the liver (glycogen) once the fuel is depleted, but if you’re in a calorie surplus this reduces the chances of this happening ensuring your muscles are constantly in “fed mode.”
Methods of Building Muscle Without Weights
Calisthenics (Bodyweight Only)
Calisthenics can be easily understood as bodyweight exercises or using your body and mostly the environment to achieve physical fitness. A list of exercises you can use to build muscle using only your body:
- Push Ups and Variations
- Sit Ups and Variations
- Russian Twist
- Superman Holds
- Calf Raises
Calisthenics (Outdoor Gym)
The outdoor gym is something I used to use a lot when I didn’t have a gym membership and it helped maintain and build muscle which I needed to during those periods.
What is nice about the outdoor gym is the feeling of actually using your body as your weight and there is great resistance that comes with this, so you’ll get a pretty evident pump which can ensure muscle building using the bars of the outdoor gym.
The exercises which you can do to build muscle at the outdoor gym, you can find below, I’ve also added the few from the above list to have variety:
- Pull Ups and Variations
- Pull Up Rows and Variations
- Tricep Dips
- Sit Ups and Variation
- Superman Holds
- Leg Press
- Calf Raises
I believe in mind-muscle connection which is the focus on the muscle that is being trained and to optimize or make the most out of this process, it is best to squeeze the muscle at its peak contraction and bring it down slowly to maximize tension in the muscle too.
It is specifically important in bodyweight exercises, including resistance bands which you can add for strengthening of soft tissue too for greater performance of the muscle, some exercises you can do with the resistance band:
- Bicep Curls
- Push Ups
- Band Pull-Apart
- Shoulder Press
- Chest Flyes
- Front Squats
- Lying Hip Abduction
- Glute Bridge
- Lateral Walk
If you’re looking for resistance bands check out the following which come in packs of 5 with different levels in resistance strength and if you use my link to buy them or anything else, I will receive a small commission from Amazon as an affiliate, I’d appreciate it if you do use it, thank you (Letsfit is one of the top brands in resistance bands, with a good price for high quality):
How You Can Have Progressive Overload Without Weights
Other than the fact that you usually need to lift heavy weights to have your muscles grow, another important factor is to have a progressive overload (gradually increasing of weight as you become stronger to ensure constant growth of muscle), but without weights, this is difficult, but not impossible.
As it is known, you need to eat in a caloric surplus to increase the potential of you building muscle, with this, comes weight and fat gain and if you’re training regularly with your increasing body weight, theoretically, you are having a progressive overload which will ensure that your muscles grow without weights.
Another way to ensure that intensity is increasing for strength and muscle tear, is to constantly challenge your limits in rep range, always try to go higher in reps.
A plus side about going this route in trying to build muscle is that it costs less to do it, you could just walk to an outdoor gym or a “trim park” or just do things at home. Again, for more information on how to build muscle, other than the mentioned tips above, please follow the link and I would appreciate your feedback, so please say if this was helpful to ensure your muscle growth without weights.