10 Bodyweight Training Basics (Part 2)

Number 6 | Progressive Overload Is The “Secret” To Muscle Growth

Want to know the ultimate secret to muscle growth? Get STRONG. I’m serious- it’s that simple. You don’t need any fancy pills or fad diets. You should be striving for progressive overload over time. Strength and size are largely correlated. So if you add 40kg to your weighted chin up- your lats will be noticeably larger. Of course, it’s not a simple formula that you can apply to everyone.There are a wide variety of factors that can skew the strength/size relationship:

  • Genetics: Your individual genetics determine how fast you can gain strength and your muscle building potential.
  • Muscle insertions: A muscle with good insertions will look infinitely better than a larger muscle. Period. For example, if you have high calf insertions, you’ll have a hard time making them look ‘bigger’ even if you hypertrophy them.

This is why you’ll see anomalies that seem to contradict the size/strength correlation…

Number 7 | Rep Quality Matters

beginner bodyweight workout

When people hear that progressive overload is the key to muscle gains, they sometimes take it to far. They sacrifice their range of motion and use momentum to lift more weight. This is ego liftingYou must build strength not test it. Only add resistance when you can comfortably handle a given weight.

Number 8 | Add Resistance To Your Bodyweight Training

You can build a solid physique with just your bodyweight.

But there’s a caveat: You’ll face plateaus sooner and eventually, it becomes tough to progress with limited equipment. A classic example of this is push-ups. At first, you may struggle to even do one. But as you add repetitions here and there, the rep-range will get higher. While you can build muscle with higher reps (20+), it’s quite impractical. It’s far easier to progress in the 8-12 rep range than it is to add another rep to a 50+ rep set. Research has also shown that lower reps are more effective for building maximum strength. This is why I recommend adding resistance to your bodyweight exercises.

Fortunately, adding resistance to exercises like pushups is dead simple: All you need to do is load a few plates into a rucksack and perform weighted pushups. If this gets too easy, you can then turn to harder variations such as the one arm pushup.

Number 9 | Set SMART Goals (And Don’t Compare Yourself To Others)

Having goals is crucial for staying motivated in any endeavor. This is no different for bodyweight training! I recommend using the SMART principle for goal setting:



Your goals need to be laser-targeted and easy to break down. You need to determine exactly what you want and how you can achieve it. In this case, your goal is to build muscle and the best way to do this is to get stronger at a select few bodyweight exercises (pushups, chinups etc)


The secret to staying on track is to measure everything. If you’re not hitting your targets, then you need to assess why, and change something.


Is your goal realistic? If it isn’t, then consider dialing in your expectations. Research has shown that unrealistic goals are less motivating and can adversely affect performance.


Your goals need to be relevant if they’re not then you risk wasting your efforts on the wrong activities (remember Pareto’s principle). For example, if your goal is to build muscle, you should focus on getting stronger, and hit your daily calorie targets.


A deadline creates a sense of urgency and keeps you motivated to act. An example of a SMART goal: I want to gain 10lbs of muscle in 6 months. I’ll achieve this by achieving a 40kg weighted chin up for 3 repetitions.

Number 10 | Stop Hopping On New Trends

Stop chasing the next best thing! By constantly switching back and forth between programs, you’ll never achieve your goals. If you’ve decided to try a bodyweight routine for 6 months, then see it through. Consistency and patience is the virtue.

Source from: Mind To Muscle Fitness, Author: Marcus

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