If you want to build an extraordinary physique with bodyweight training, you need to stick to the basics. Pareto’s 80/20 principle states that 20% of the tasks we do produce 80% of the results we achieve.
This applies to building muscle too, here are the 80% activities:
- Training progression
Simple right? But you’re probably thinking: “It can’t be that easy?”
This is where most beginners slip up; rather than focusing on the fundamentals, they try to over-complicate the process. This can lead to paralysis by analysis.
The solution? Take a deep breath and focus. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Number 1 | Fullbody Training Is Key
- ‘Bro splits’
- Push-pull legs
- Upper/lower splits
- Full body splits
Let’s start with the first one, ‘bro splits’. I’ll come right out and say it- Bro splits are awful for building muscle as a natural lifter.
The reason for this is simple: There isn’t enough training frequency!
When you train, you induce small micro tears in the muscles. To repair and replace this damaged tissue, the body synthesizes protein into muscle tissue. This is known as protein synthesis. For natural lifters, this takes place in a 24-48 hour window post-workout. The problem with bro splits is that you’re only stimulating protein synthesis 2 days per week (max). This leads to incredibly slow muscle growth in the long-term. Higher frequency splits, such as push-pull legs and upper/lower improve things:
- A classic push pull legs split provides 1.5x per week frequency
- An upper lower provides a 2x per week frequency
However, this can be taken a step further with full body training. By training the entire body, you can increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce the time commitment.
Let’s compare an upper/lower split with a full body approach:
- An upper/lower split requires you to train 4 days per week to get a 2x per week training frequency.
- Whereas a full body split only requires you to train 2 days per week to achieve the same amount.
It’s clear that full body training is the way to go!
Number 2 | Eat…Then Eat Some More
You’ve probably heard (once or twice) that you need to “eat big to get big”. There is some truth to this statement…
You see, whether or not you build muscle is determined by the balance of protein synthesis and protein breakdown.
In a calorie surplus (when you eat more calories than your body burns), insulin is raised and protein synthesis rates exceed muscle breakdown. Essentially, you’re supplying the body with enough energy to do its job. On the flip side, if you fail to eat enough calories (a calorie deficit), muscle protein breakdown will exceed protein synthesis. And thus, you’ll struggle to build muscle. This is why I recommend lean bulking:
It maximizes muscle building and minimizes fat gain. Despite this, you may be wondering: “How the hell do I know whether I’m eating enough?” Great question! To gain weight, you need to know your TDEE (total daily energy intake). This is the number of calories you need to sustain your body weight. Luckily for you, figuring it out is easy.
First, click here to visit an online TDEE calculator.
Next, enter your sex, age, weight, height, and activity level. Then click the calculate button:
Tada! You now have your estimated TDEE. Next, you’ll need to test this for 2 weeks (to make sure it’s accurate).
*If you lose weight- bump up your calories by 200 per day and test for another week.
Once you have your true TDEE, all you need to do is add 200 calories per day to that number and you should gain roughly 0.5lb per week.
Number 3 | Track Everything
Write EVERYTHING down! I mean it.
- Reps/set progression
- Calorie intake
- Weight on the scale
All of these metrics are invaluable as they help you gauge your progress. If you face a workout plateau, then come back to these and assess what might be the cause of it. For example, has your weight stalled? Eat more. Have you done the same reps 3 workouts in a row? Maybe you aren’t pushing hard enough, or need to include more advanced variations/resistance. This may seem obsessive, but in reality, it’s necessary. After all, “what can’t be measured can’t be managed!”.
Number 4 | Don’t Skip The Warm Up!
As you start to get stronger, it can be tempting to think of warm-ups as beneath you. However, this is a one-way ticket to snap city! By priming your central nervous system (CNS), you can lift heavier and avoid injury. Depending on where your strength level is at, this will range from 1 warm up set to 4. Obviously, if you can only do push-ups with your bodyweight, then there is no need for a warm-up set. So use your head!
Here is an example of an effective warm-up set for the weighted chin up:
- Bodyweight chin up 1×6
- 5kg chin up 1×5
- 10kg chin up 1×3
- -Work set-
It’s also important to remember, that you shouldn’t overdo it on your warm-up sets. You should be saving your energy for the main work sets. The warm-ups are always kept under 6 repetitions to avoid metabolic fatigue and preserve strength. I’d also recommend limiting the number of warm-up sets to 4. This is plenty for injury prevention.
Number 5 | Don’t Neglect Recovery
Recovery is super important for strength and muscle gains. But nobody likes to talk about it!
Why? Because it isn’t all that interesting. It’s much more exciting to read about the perfect rep range or the ultimate diet for muscle growth. Fortunately, maximizing recovery is pretty easy on a full body split.
After all, you’re only training 2-3x per week.
However, you should still pay attention to the three main factors- sleep, diet, and rest.
- Sleep: Make sure you’re getting 6-8 hours of quality sleep every single night.
- Diet: You need to be eating enough to support muscle growth (a calorie surplus).
- Rest: If you have a strenuous job, it can impact your recovery. Do your best to get as much physical rest as possible.
Watch out for Part 2 of this article!
Source from: Mind To Muscle Fitness, Author: Marcus