This post will answer the question of how much muscle can you gain with bodyweight exercises. I want to cover this because a lot of people still believe that going to the gym to lift with machines and barbells is the only way to gain muscle. That’s just not true and here’s why…
The question of how much muscle can you gain using only bodyweight exercises is a bit of a mixed one because building muscle mass is the product of both specific training methods and nutrition. So if you want to build more muscle mass while only using your bodyweight to do your exercises the following three points will be very valuable information for you.
The three big points you want to make sure you have covered for building more muscle mass are:
Rep Ranges and Volume
Rest Between Sets and Sleep
Nutrition – Calories
Rep Rangees And Volume To Gain Muscle
Rep Ranges and Volume – No matter what type of resistance you add to an exercise being it external weight or disadvantaged leverages like leaning into a pushup, you want the resistance to cause you great exertion and sometimes failure inside the 5-12 rep range. Lower rep ranges will mostly improve the ability to contract the muscle and higher reps will mostly increase the muscles endurance capabilities. It is all on a sliding scale of effectiveness of course but generally for adding muscle mass 4 sets of 6-8 reps works very well.
Rest Between Sets and Sleep To Gain Muscle
Rest Between Sets and Sleep – You need to let your muscle rest between sets to recover as much as possible if muscle mass is your goal. 2-3 minutes is great if you have the time and are not concerned with keeping up an overall fitness level that cross over into muscular endurance. For most people that want a mix of both size and endurance, rest 1:00 to 1:30. Over an under that will have you specializing in extreme strength/mass gains or muscular endurance.
Not too much needs to be said about the amount of sleep. If you don’t get into your deep sleep pattern then you can’t start to rebuild the bodies systems. Most experts recommend 8 hours of sleep and I recommend however long it takes for you to wake up without an alarm. Make this happen by going to bed earlier and earlier.
Nutrition And Calories For Gaining Muscle
Nutrition – If gaining muscle mass with bodyweight exercises is your goal then you need to have the building materials available for the body to build that muscle mass. What you need is a nice mix of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein. Protein levels are generally recommended to be 1 gram per pound of bodyweight when extreme muscle mass is desired. My personal experience eating a mostly plant based diet has shown that you can do quite well with substantially less.
15 calories per pound of bodyweight is a great place to start if you have no idea how much you are eating and want to add muscle mass from where you are. Track it and if you do not see and gains coming, then add in 250-500 calories more a day for 7 days and observe the change.
The reality of this is that how much muscle you add using only bodyweight exercises depends on how well you follow the above principles and for how long you do it. This is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to adding muscle mass with bodyweight exercises.
The Actual Numbers Of How Much Muscle Can You Gain With Bodyweight Exercises
For hard numbers on the amount of muscle you can gain, it depend on your bodyweight. If you are underweight then naturally you will be able to put on more muscle in a year than someone that is already close to the potential that their bodies can carry.
For a 150 untrained individual, 15-30 in their first year is not unheard of. That’s was my personal experience as well when I started. So when you run the math on that, you end up with about a pound or two of muscle a month when you do everything perfectly.
Of course if you overfeed and put on a little fat, then the numbers completely change.
I hope that helps and let me know if you have any more questions.
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