You’ve probably heard that body-weight exercises are a good way to build muscle. You might also have heard that they’re not as effective as resistance training with dumbbells or barbells. Both statements are true! But, as you’ll see below, there’s more to the story than just these two options being “good” or “bad.”
Muscle requires increasing amounts of resistance to grow.
The body’s muscles can only get stronger when they are given a good reason to grow. This is called progressive overload, and it’s the main principle of muscle hypertrophy (growth).
To achieve progressive overload, your muscles need to be challenged with a new stimulus. In other words, if you do 100 pushups every day for a year straight without changing anything about your routine or adding any additional resistance, what will happen? Your body will adapt and get used to doing 100 pushups every day—and then you’ll stop seeing results! The same thing happens if you lift the same amount of weight for months on end without increasing it gradually over time. Muscle growth stops once your body has adapted fully to its current environment; this is known as homeostasis (maintaining balance within yourself).
That’s why body weight exercises do not provide enough resistance to build muscle after a while.
While body-weight exercises like pull-ups, pushups and squats are great for getting started, they do not provide enough resistance to build muscle after a while.
That’s because you can’t get strong enough to lift your own body weight. If you want to get stronger, then you need to add weight to your body.
The best way to do this is with dumbbells or kettlebells because they offer the most versatility when it comes to how much weight you can use and the types of movements you can perform with them (more on that later).
The bigger the stimulus, the bigger the change your muscles will make.
You don’t need to lift heavy weights to build mass or strength. The bigger the stimulus, the bigger the change your muscles will make. That’s why you should strive to always challenge yourself with more weight or a harder exercise than you are currently doing. A muscle has no choice but to adapt when it is provided with a challenge that it can’t handle in order to adapt. Once your muscles can handle the challenge you are giving them, they will not adapt anymore (this is called plateauing).
The muscle must be provided with a challenge that it can’t handle in order to adapt to change.
You can’t just do the same workout over and over again, because your body will get used to it. You need to provide a stimulus (a bigger challenge) that is bigger than what you are accustomed to. This muscle growth requires an increase in workload or stress, which may be accomplished by increasing the amount of weight lifted or by increasing the number of sets performed at a given weight.
Once your muscles can handle the challenge you are giving them, they will not adapt anymore.
Once your muscles can handle the challenge you are giving them, they will not adapt anymore. The only way to increase the intensity of a body-weight exercise is by increasing the resistance or adding more weight. You can do this by adding more weight to your body or by increasing the number of repetitions you do per set.
Once you reach a certain point though, it’s time to add even more resistance and make things harder on your muscles!
Choose an appropriate amount of resistance and do enough reps to give your muscles an adequate challenge.
The first step in choosing the right amount of resistance is to know your body weight. You can find this information on the internet or by using a scale at the gym.
Once you have an idea about how much you weigh, look up a list of exercises that use only your body weight as resistance and choose one that represents an appropriate challenge for reaching muscle failure within 8–12 reps (although some trainees may need to aim higher).
If you don’t feel confident in choosing an appropriate exercise or rep range based on your weight alone, ask a trainer at the gym for help.
By using body-weight exercises, you can build muscle and strength, but only for so long. If you want to continue building muscle in the long run then you need to keep adding more resistance—such as by using weights or an exercise band—and doing a greater number of reps per set.