Top 20 Bodyweight Exercises for Building Muscle & Strength

Bodyweight exercises need to be part of your program if you want to get jacked. But not just pushups, sit ups and high rep calisthenics. That’s beginner stuff that won’t build any real muscle.

We’re talking about really working hard on high tension, advanced bodyweight exercises that can only be done for somewhere between five and twelve reps, on average.

The nice thing about these is that they’re very natural and can usually be done pain free by most people.

1) Chin/ Pull Up

These build the lats and biceps very effectively. An impressive number of full range, perfect reps is twenty. Everyone should do at least fifty total reps per week of some sort of chin up variation.

The parallel grip chin/ pull up is easiest on the shoulders and elbows and is the one I recommend most. Doing them on rings is safest as it allows for the most natural movement but is also significantly more difficult.

2) Rope Climb

Awesome for true functional, relative strength. Your goal is to climb a twenty foot rope using just your hands.

3) Inverted Row

Some type of inverted row variation, either on a bar, rings, ropes or suspension strapsshould be included for mid back thickness and strength.

To increase the difficulty try holding each rep for a few seconds at the top.

To target the upper back musculature (teres minor, rhomboids, rear delts) you want to have your elbows directly out to your side when rowing. For more lats and mid-back, row with your elbows tucked to your sides.

4) Front Lever

This is one of the absolute BEST exercises for activating and building the lats. Maybe even better than chin ups. It’s also one of the best abdominal exercises you can do and will put crunches and sit ups to shame. To progress into doing the front lever, I recommend starting with isometric holds. Four sets of 10 seconds twice per week will be good for most people.

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