You Don’t Need Weights To Build Big Muscles


Men's Health |

Turn your body into a barbell with this potent workout plan that can be done anywhere.

Directions: Do this workout three times a week, with one rest day between sessions. The stronger or more experienced athletes can focus on the advanced progressions for more of a calisthenic challenge. Rest as needed between sets.

The Benefits: Increased strength, endurance, range of motion and increased muscle definition. Calisthenics allows the body to work as a single unit, making the body stronger and more efficient.

1/Push-Ups – “Push-ups are great for building up your chest and triceps, but make sure to engage the glutes and abs for proper activation of the core.” You heard the man. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. While lowering down, squeeze the shoulder blades back and down, keeping your elbows tucked in. Aim for 3 to 5 sets of 20 to 50 reps. Stop once good form is lost.

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Beginner: Start on your knees. Your heels should be placed near the glutes, with glutes squeezed and abs drawn in. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps.

Advanced: Explosive clap push-ups. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

2/Pull-Ups: From a dead hang on a bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, start by pulling your shoulders back and down. Activate your lats to help pull your upper chest to the bar. Aim for 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 15 reps. “The pull-up is a great upper body exercise that builds the back and biceps.”

Beginner: Use a lower bar so that you can use your legs (and ground) for assistance. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps.

Advanced: Explosive pull-ups with a clap. Do 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps.

3/Squats – Start with your toes pointed forwards and feet shoulder-width apart. Start the movement by pushing your hips back and down, as though you’re going to sit on a chair. Drop as low as you can without pain (and with good form). “An ideal squat will have the butt nearly touching the ground.” Do 3 to 5 sets of 20 to 50 reps.

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Beginner: You can hold onto an object such as a couch or rope for assistance. Do 3 to 5 sets of 20 reps.

Advanced: Turn this movement into an explosive squat jump. Do 5 sets of 20 reps.

4/Handstand Holds: Start by walking your feet up a wall until you’re leaning against it with a straight body. Your hands should end up roughly 8cm from the wall. Aim for holds of 15-30 seconds, and do 3 sets. “Handstands are great for working the shoulders and building body awareness.”

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Beginner: Start to condition the shoulders by pressing into a pike from a push-up position. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps.

Advanced: Incorporate balancing skills by performing the hold freestanding (without leaning on a wall).

5/Lunges – Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and take one big step, dropping your back knee to touch the ground softly (and at 90 degrees). Keep your torso upright.Step forwards to return to your starting position and then swap legs. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps on each leg. “It’s a great strength builder that can be done without any equipment.”

6/Skin the Cat – Start at a dead hang. Tuck your knees as you pull your hips up towards your hands. Slowly push your feet and hips through the bar. After reaching parallel with your hips, pull with your shoulders to return to the start. Do 2 sets of 3 to 5 reps. “Great for warming up the upper body, especially your shoulders.”

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7/Burpee – Begin in a push-up position, then jump your feet forward, towards your hands, and do a jump squat with a clap above your head. Then return back to the floor and repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps. “Brilliant for building up your conditioning.”

8/Bar Muscle-Up – Begin with a dead hang on a pull-up bar, then pull yourself explosively up towards the bar with the intention of bringing your chest up and over the bar. At this point you’re ready to do the transition, as you perform a dip to end up with straight arms over the bar. Do 2 sets of 3 to 8 reps. “It’s a combination of two of the best upper body exercises: a pull-up and a dip.”

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Beginner: Find a low bar and replicate the motion by jumping on top of the bar. The greater the height of the bar, the more difficult the movement becomes.

9/L-Sit – Start on a dip bar with your arms locked out and torso upright, then bring your legs up so that they’re locked out straight ahead of you with your toes parallel to your hands. Hold this position. You can perform this with two to three controlled sets with a  hold time of 15 to 30 seconds. “This is a movement that builds stability and core strength.”

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10/Dips – Start on a dip bar with your arms locked out and lower your chest towards your hands, engaging your triceps. Once you reach the bottom of the dip, push back explosively to the start while maintaining tension in your core. Do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 50 reps. “The more in line your toes are with your head when performing this move, the more you engage your triceps.”

READ MORE ON: better body calisthenics muscles strength training