Getting Big On A Budget: Equipment
Times are tough, but so are you. You’re determined to skip the pricey personal trainer and trendy gym for something more basic. Believe it or not, all you’ll need to start is the weight of your own body. After that, we can use things that are practically free to take it to the next level. And you thought it was expensive to look great!
If you want to get big on the cheap, it’s going to take some determination. It’ll also take perfect technique, so listen up. Bodyweight exercises are the gold standard of the really fit, and they can be a great way to add size.
Bodyweight Exercises: The Why
The key to adding bulk to your physique while keeping a fat wallet is progressively more difficult exercises, ones that continually challenge the body to adapt. For example, start with regular push-ups, then progress to clap push-ups, then finally one-handed push-ups.
A great side benefit of this type of exercise is that it can be performed on a circuit to get some cardio in, thus reducing the overall workout time needed for the week. I’m not expecting you to lose your love of the stacks, just asking you to consider “seeing other people.” Really, it can be good for this relationship.
Yet another benefit of these cheap exercises is to challenge your body in a different way when you stop making gains. If you’re big already and you stimulate the nervous system differently, your brain will react differently. Then, when you go back to the iron, your body will see that as something “new” again, and you’ll likely make a second set of gains. Fantastic!
These are designed to get you started inexercise training. Depending on your fitness level and how in tune you are with your body, you could be here two weeks to two months. When it stops being ridiculously hard, move up to the next level.
- Stay hydrated both throughout your day and while exercising.
- Adopt and maintain healthy eating habits to supplement your workout routine.
- Bodybuilding with Bodyweight Exercises
- Bodyweight Exercises for Size and Strength!
- The Ultimate Bodyweight Exercises Archive for Strength Training and Body Toning
1. Basic Burpees Begin standing with hands at your sides. Bend your knees until you are in a full crouch position with your hands on the floor in front of you and slightly outside your feet. Kick your legs behind you, landing in a plank position. Jump your legs back to your hands as quickly as possible. Stand up. That’s one rep.
Aim for thirty to sixty reps. You should be out of breath and hurting by the end. When you get to a 9 on the ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) scale, stop. Burpees are a full-body exercise, so you will begin each of the other exercises already fatigued. This is where the muscle growth starts.
2. Push-ups I want a basic military push-up here, nothing fancy. Come into plank position with your hands as wide as your shoulders. Pull the naval to the spine and keep the hips above the knees. Bend elbows and lower until forearms are parallel to the floor. Now push back up to start.
I believe that you should do push-ups to failure, whatever failure is for you. If you can easily do fifty or more, then move up to the mid-level push-up. If you’re unable to do military push-ups, you may come to the knees (which also requires more work of the abs) or spread the feet to shoulder width.
3. Squats This is the exercise everyone loves to hate. Begin standing with feet at shoulder width. Sit back like you’re sitting in a chair, making sure to keep your knees behind the toes to avoid excess pressure on the knees. Aim for thighs parallel to the floor, as further can cause damage to the knees.
I like to do about 75, but you can do 100 if you’re feeling good. I’d say hit at least 50 before you give up, even if you have to rest in there.
4. Chin-ups If you don’t belong to a gym, you can do this one on any playground with monkey bars. You could purchase a chin-up bar that attaches to a door frame, or even hold onto the frame if your fingers are strong enough.
Begin by gripping the bar with fingers facing you. Pull yourself up as quickly as possible, then lower down in 2-3 seconds, remembering not to lock out your elbows. If you can’t quite manage your body weight, place a chair beneath you and let your toes rest on it.
For these exercises, try to do as many reps as you did in the beginner sets. You’ll likely have to work up to them, as these simple changes will result in some much-needed muscle confusion.
1. Complex Burpee If the first burpee didn’t hurt enough, let’s add to it. After you squat and push your legs back, add a push-up. Pull your legs back in, and instead of standing, jump as high as you can, landing softly on the balls of your feet. That’s one rep. Repeat as often as you dare.
2. Clap push-ups You’ve got push-ups down pat, so let’s continue to progressively overload the muscle. After you push-up into the start position, clap your hands together. You’re activating fast-twitch muscle fibers and working the pecs. Good stuff.
3. Squat KicksFor as much as it hurts, I like this one a lot. When you stand up from your squat, do a front kick, then a donkey kick. Alternate sides for true pain in the hammies and glutes.
4. Chin-ups with weights or Wide-grip pullups You have a little choice here. If you have a weight vest, use it. If not, switch to a wide grip (slightly outside shoulder width) pull-up. This will work your back harder and give the biceps less load. Everyone wants a sculpted back!
These exercises are some of the hardest bodyweight exercises on the planet. Do what you can, then do more. That’s how growth happens, after all.
1. Insane burpees I’ll be honest, I almost puked the first time I did sixty of these bad boys. This is a basic burpee plus a push-up and a dive bomber.
Squat, kick back, and do your push up. Then, lift your butt into the air until you’re in downward dog (inverted V). Bend your elbows, and push into upward facing dog. Reverse the motion and get back into the inverted V. Jump your legs back in, get as much air as possible, and land softly.
If you can do fifty of these, you’re my hero. I’ve never been so sore as after burpee dive bombers, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of this variation.
2. One-armed pushups or handstand push-ups You’ve got two choices here again. One-handed push-ups are for bad boys and require lots of practice. Get into military push-up position, then place one arm behind your back. Lower down until you’re hovering above the ground, then push back up.
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do this at first. A good variation is to lower with one arm, then push up with both. Another option is to spread the feet to shoulder width, then work up to feet together.
If you’re truly amazing, try handstand push-ups. Kick up against a wall (your feet should touch it until your shoulders are extremely strong and stable). Lower until you’re about to lose control, or until your head touches the floor, then press back up.
3. Jump Squats Perform a basic squat. Push off of your heels and onto your toes and jump as high as you’re able. Thirty is a good number to shoot for. Your heart will probably be beating near the top of your range at the end, so be mindful of this.
4. Wide-grip pull-up with weights or clap pull-ups If you have a weight vest, use it for the wide-grip pull-up. If not, try your hand at a clap pull-up. Frankly, I’m not strong enough for this exercise. I love watching it done, though.
Pull yourself up, chin over the bar. When you reach the top, clap your hands. Grab the bar and lower down for one rep. Be careful with this one, as you may hit your chin a couple of times if the bar is straight across (some, like the one I use, have a space between two handles).
I bet that if you give these exercises a month they’ll transform your physique. Do them three times per week, or alternate a day on/a day off if you’re highly motivated. Nothing beats the satisfaction of accomplishing something new and being able to watch bigger, leaner muscles showing though.
There are some phenomenal body weight exercise programs out there, as well as some hybrids like Crossfit. I’d encourage you to to keep searching for something that works well for you. Be sure to check out some plyometrics programs, too, for explosive strength.