The local gym may be too expensive or inconveniently located, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to build muscle on a skinny frame. Muscles don't care what form of resistance they work against: free weights, machines, elastic bands or body weight.
When muscles work against any resistance, they'll respond by getting stronger and bigger. According to a study in the April 2014 issue of the journal AGE, everyone is born with all the muscle cells they'll ever have. But with progressive overloading of the muscles and good nutrition, everyone can make those cells grow larger.
There are plenty of ways for skinny people who can't (or don't want to) go to the gym to build bigger muscles at home.
Calisthenics training stimulates the muscles using body weight in a range of movements — many are just different versions of conventional weight-training exercises. According to research in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, high repetition resistance training was just as effective as heavy power lifting for increasing muscle size.
High-intensity training, also called high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a based on short bursts of all-out effort with brief rest periods. Doing calisthenics in a HIIT fashion will save lots of time, thoroughly fatigue the muscles and possibly stimulate faster gains in size.
Read more: What Is Calisthenic Training?
Home Calisthenics Workout
Many calisthenics movements work many muscle groups at the same time and help stimulate an increase in lean mass. Here are four highly-effective bodyweight exercises to go from skinny to buff in no time.
Push-ups work the pushing muscles in the upper body; chest, shoulders, triceps says ACE Fitness. They even work the core since keeping the body straight stresses the abdominals. Proper push-ups start face down on the ground with the feet together, hands shoulder-width apart and back and legs straight.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin by pushing up until the arms are fully extended and elbows locked; then slowly descend back to the starting position. A high-intensity push-up workout may consist of four 30-second sets of push-ups with 30 to 45 seconds of rest between sets.
Pull-ups stimulate all the pulling muscles: lats, biceps and forearms. This exercise demands that the exerciser pulls the weight of the whole body up to the bar to build both muscle size and impressive strength. An inexpensive doorway pull-up bar makes it easy to include them in an at-home muscle building routine.
HOW TO DO IT: Start by grasping the bar with palms facing forward and hanging (bend your legs if necessary). Pull your body up in a controlled manner — no kicking or swinging! Then lower the body slowly down to the start position.
A HIIT-style pull-up workout might include three or four sets of 10 to 20 seconds of pull-ups at all-out effort with up to a minute of rest between sets.
Alternating bodyweight lunges are a fantastic way to build up the lower body muscles. Lunges also lend themselves perfectly to HIIT training.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin by standing with your feet about hip-width apart; then step backward with one leg until the knee lightly touches the floor. Next, push up with the front leg until standing again. Repeat the movement with the other leg.
Try to do five sets of 30 seconds with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
Isometric At-Home Workout
A September 2014 research article published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Science determined that isometric training was even more effective than conventional resistance training in the rehabilitation of neck pain. This might be applicable to other muscles in the body too.
An isometric routine to build muscle at home can be created from three basic movements.
1. Chest Compression
This movement may be done seated or standing.
HOW TO DO IT: Start with the back straight and hands in a praying position in front of the chest. Press the palms together as hard as possible for 10 to 15 seconds and then relax.
For an excellent isometric chest workout, do five sets in this manner with 15 to 20 seconds rest between sets.
2. Isometric Pull-Up
This exercise is similar to the pull-up, but you hold the muscles actively for several seconds.
HOW TO DO IT: Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and pull the body up. Hold the chin at bar level for 10 to 30 seconds at a time. This exercise can be done hanging from a door frame if no pull-up bar is available.
Do at least five sets with no more than 30 seconds rest for a stronger and broader back.
Train the whole lower body with this isometric movement.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand a foot or two away from the wall, facing outward. Squat until the thighs are parallel with the ground and lean the back against the wall.
Hold the position for between 30 to 60 seconds. Do three to five sets and rest between sets for no more than 30 seconds.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "Effects of Different Volume-Equated Resistance Training Loading Strategies on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men"
- AGE: "Satellite Cells in Human Skeletal Muscle: From Birth to Old Age"
- Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Science: "The Effectiveness of Isometric Exercises as Compared to General Exercises in the Management of Chronic Non-Specific Neck Pain"
- ACE Fitness: "Perfecting the Push-Up for All Levels"