Build Strength – Without The Weights
(BlackDoctor.org) – You may not believe it, but you don’t necessarily need barbells, dumbbells or machines to build muscle; in fact, weight-training equipment often inhibits the process. That’s because it requires you to be in a specific location, which might explain why more people try to classify themselves as runners or walkers, and not lifters. After all, running/walking are couple of the most accessible forms of exercise—anywhere you go, there’s your gym. But the same can hold true for your muscle workout.
An example of this? The pullup: It’s the standard by which all body-weight exercises are measured. And even the most hard-core lifters will agree that there’s no better muscle builder for the upper body—with or without weights. The reason for its effectiveness is that it takes full advantage of the scientific laws of motion and leverage, placing your body in a position that forces your back and arms to lift your entire body weight.
Now imagine if all body-weight exercises were as challenging as the pullup. You’d be able to build muscle anywhere, anytime—at home, on the road, or even in a park.
The Longer Your Body, The Harder The Exercise
The Theory: An empty barbell is easy to lift off the floor if you grab it in the middle. But try moving a few inches in one direction and it instantly seems heavier—even though its weight hasn’t changed. The same is of the true body: Lengthen it and every exercise you do becomes harder. By increasing the distance between your target muscles) and your body, you decrease your mechanical advantage.
The Application: Raise your hands above your head—so your arms are straight and in line with your body—during a lunge, squat, crunch, or sit up. If that’s too hard, split the distance by placing your hands behind your head.
The Farther You Move, The More Muscles You Work
The Theory: Do more work, build more muscle. Of course, in a weight-free workout, you can’t increase force (unless you gain weight). But you can boost your work output by moving a greater distance during each repetition.
The Application: Each of the following three methods increases the distance your body has to travel from start to finish, increasing not only the total amount of work you do, but also the amount of work you do in the most challenging portion of the exercise.
Hard: Move the floor farther away. For many body-weight exercises—lunges, pushups, situps—your range of motion ends at the floor. The solution: Try placing your front or back foot on a step when doing lunges; position your hands on books or your feet on a chair when doing pushups; and place a rolled-up towel under the arch in your lower back when doing situps.
Harder: Add on a quarter. From the starting position of a pushup, squat, or lunge, lower yourself into the down position. But instead of pushing your body all the way up, raise it only a quarter of the way. Then lower yourself again before pushing your body all the way up. That counts as one repetition.
Hardest: Try mini-repetitions. Instead of pushing your body all the way up from the down position, do five smaller reps in which you raise and lower your body about an inch each time. After the fifth mini-repetition, push yourself up till your arms are straight. That counts as one repetition.
As Elastic Energy Decreases, Muscle Involvement Increases
The Theory: When you lower your body during any exercise, you build up “elastic energy” in your muscles. Just like a coiled spring, that elasticity allows you to “bounce” back to the starting position, reducing the work your muscles have to do. Eliminate the bounce and you’ll force your body to recruit more muscle fibers to get you moving again. How? Pause for 4 seconds in the down position of an exercise. That’s the amount of time it takes to discharge all the elastic energy of a muscle.
The Application: Use the 4-second pause in any exercise. And give yourself an extra challenge by adding an explosive component, forcefully pushing your body off the floor—into the air as high as you can—during a pushup, lunge, or squat. Because you’re generating maximum force without any help from elastic energy, you’ll activate the greatest number of muscle fibers possible.
Moving in Three Directions is Better Than Moving in One
The Theory: Human movement occurs in three ways –
1. Front-to-back and up-and-down movements
2. Side-to-side movements
3. Rotational movements
Most weight-lifting movements—the bench press, squat, curl, lunge, and chinup, to name a few—fall into the first two groups. This means that most men rarely train their bodies with rotational movements, despite using rotation constantly in everyday life, as well as in every sport. Case in point: walking. It’s subtle, but your hips rotate with every step; in fact, watch a sprinter from behind and you’ll see that his hips rotate almost 90 degrees. By adding a rotational component to any exercise, you’ll automatically work more muscle—since you’ll fully engage your core, as well as the original target muscles—and simultaneously build a better-performing body.
The Application: Simply twist your torso to the right or left in exercises such as the lunge, situp, and pushup. You can also rotate your hips during movements such as the reverse crunch.