The trick to getting the most out of bodyweight exercises is to keep the tension in your muscles longer. As the exercises get easier, progress to a harder variation of them, then throw in some holds at the top, and some negatives. Here’s an example. Say pull-ups are no biggie. You fly through them like they’re nothing. But wait! You want to build mass, not just burn calories! Slow down and keep the tension. Try focusing on the tension in your arms and back as you carefully, and slowly, pull your way up to the bar. Hold for a count of five, then lower slowly for five seconds. Not as easy, right?

The following are my favorite bodyweight exercises for building muscle.

1. Push-Up

There are a ton of variations for this one. You could do a single arm push-up if run of the mill style ones are a cake walk for you. You could clap on the way up. You could do it diamond style or just move your hands further in or out. It’s up to you how hard or easy you make these!

2. Pull-Up/Chin-Up

Again, there are a ton of variations for these. If you aren’t to the point where you can pull yourself up, start with an assisted pull-up machine or a resistance band looped across the bar.

3. Dip

If you want to target more chest, let your body lean forward and your elbows flare out. If you want to target more triceps, stay upright and keep your elbows in. Buff Dudes covers this really well in the video below.

4. Bodyweight Squat

This is my favorite bodyweight exercise because I love leg day, and I love squats. Win win right there. My favorite squat variation is the Bulgarian split squat, which isn’t easy with or without weights! If you can demonstrate any of the insanely difficult pistol squat variations in the video above, please, do the Gravitus community a favor and post a Vine of it in the app. We will be forever grateful.

5. Single Leg Glute Bridge

These might look easy, but hold at the top for a count of five. Be sure to squeeze those glutes! Yeah, not so easy now, is it? If these are too much to begin with, try it with both feet on the floor.

Your favorite didn't make our list? Comment below and let us know what are your favorite bodyweight exercises!



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Sarah Wagner

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Sarah handles all things marketing for Gravitus. An avid baker, she enjoys developing macro friendly recipes. She's been lifting heavy since 2013, and loves the barbell like she loves cute puppies.