What should you do when you want to get more buff, but you can’t get to the gym and don’t have a weight set at home? Don’t worry — the only thing the muscles need to grow is resistance. Muscles don’t know the difference between a hunk of iron, an elastic band or a piece of furniture, so there are plenty of ways to get buff right at home.
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A study in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that training with heavy or light loads will show the same increases in muscle size. The researchers discovered that even with experienced weightlifters, doing low reps with heavy weight or high reps with lighter weights got the same results.
Try out this routine at home:
Pull-ups: Grasp the pull-up bar with palms facing forward (or toward you to focus more on biceps development). Hang from the bar with the full weight of the body, bending both knees if necessary. Pull with both arms until the chin touches the bar and slowly return to the start position. Repeat until your muscles are fatigued.
Push-ups: This classic calisthenics movement will build a muscular chest, broad shoulders and chiseled triceps. Start face down on the floor, both hands shoulder-width apart at chest level. Keeping the legs together and back straight, release both arms until the elbows are fully extended. Return to the start position and repeat.
Lunges: Use lunges to develop attractive legs and glutes. Begin standing, legs shoulder-width apart and back straight. Now, step backward with one leg until the knee lightly touches the floor. Finally, push up with the front leg to return to the start position. Repeat with the other leg. Three to six sets of 15 to 20 reps will powerfully stimulate the leg and hip muscles.
Read more: What is calisthenic training?
Some typical isometric movements for the core include the front plank for abs and side plank for the oblique muscles. For lower-body muscles, though, try doing wall sits to isometrically train the legs and glutes. To perform this exercise:
with your back pressed against the wall
down into a squat position by moving your feet forward until the thighs
are parallel to the floor
in position for up to one minute
Both push-ups and pull-ups can be done isometrically by holding the body at the hardest part of the movement. This is also called a static hold. In the case of doing a push-up, lower the chest about half-way down and then hold that position for time as long as possible. To do pull-ups this way just hold the chin at the bar for time.
In 2015, a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy concluded that isometrics was as useful as conventional weight-training for exercise.
Read more: What are the benefits of isometric exercise?
Sample Whole-Body Isometrics Program
To work your entire body with isometrics, do four to five sets of static holds for time for each exercise:
plank (left and right)
Try achieving a 30-second hold time for each movement to powerfully stimulate upper- and lower-body muscle growth for a time-efficient and productive isometric training session at home.
- SUSTAINED ISOMETRIC SHOULDER CONTRACTION ON MUSCULAR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE: A RANDOMIZED CLINICAL TRIAL;Natalie L. Myers,Jenny L. Toonstra, Jacob S. Smith,Cooper A. Padgett, Tim L. Uhl;International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy;(2015)
- Neither load nor systemic hormones determine resistance training-mediated hypertrophy or strength gains in resistance-trained young men;Robert W. Morton, Sara Y. Oikawa, Christopher G. Wavell, Nicole Mazara, Chris McGlory, Joe Quadrilatero, Brittany L. Baechler, Steven K. Baker, Stuart M. Phillips;Journal of Applied Physiology;(2016)
- Side Plank; ExRx.net; (N.D.)
- Front Plank; ExRx.net; (N.D.)