The knock on bodyweight workouts is that people don’t believe they can get bigger or grow muscle just by using them. As a result, people prefer to go into the weight room if their goal is to pack on bulk or get ripped.
Most of us started out working out from our own rooms and chances are one of the first exercises you did was the push up. After a while though when it became easier to do, you moved on to dumbbells, and barbells.
The common train of thought is that if you want to get big, hit the gym and the weights. That’s just how it is. So what if you don’t have access to weights or don’t have the time or budget for a gym membership is it the end of the road for you in terms of building muscle?
Apparently not. At least not according to Todd Kuslikis, creator of the Bodyweight Overload training program.
What is Bodyweight Overload?
This program is built for those who want to build muscle and get ripped without having to lift weights. It is built completely around body weight exercises that you can do without having to purchase weight plates or barbells.
The only equipment you’ll probably need is a pull up/chin up bar though the monkey bars at the park or anything similar would do. Other than that, you’ll be using your own body’s weight as leverage to build muscles.
This is a complete program that includes both the training routine as well as the diet. We prefer exercise programs that include both since this makes more sense.
Can You Really Build Muscle Without Weights?
So the question is, can you really build a formidable physique without weights and just relying on bodyweight exercises? The answer is yes.
If you don’t believe me, just tune in to the next Olympic Games when they televise the men’s gymnastics events. You’ll see guys with best physiques in the Olympics. They’ve got extremely broad shoulders, superhero-like muscles in their arms and abs that are rock hard.
These guys aren’t just ripped, but as strong as anyone you’ll ever see. Pound per pound they can deadlift with the best powerlifters.
Yes, all that was built on bodyweight exercises. Coach Christopher Sommer who was a former gymnast himself and long-time coach of the US Men’s National Gymnastics Team has repeatedly mentioned in interviews that these athletes don’t use barbells or dumbbells.
They use bodyweight exercises where they use their body’s weight as leverage. They also use progressive techniques so your muscles keep getting challenged thus making them grow.
So Why Do Many Body Weight Training Routines Fail?
According to Todd Kuslikis, the program’s creator, there are 4 major reasons why most people don’t see the gains they want from their body weight routines. These are:
People keep using high repetition ranges.
When you get stronger, you’ll be able to do more reps for each exercise. So people think that by adding more reps you work the muscles more and get results. This is a misconception.
There’s a reason why personal trainers will control the number of reps and weight per set. Lower repetitions of more challenging weight stimulate muscle growth. Higher repetition sets get your muscles “pumped”, but what it does is increase their muscle endurance. This is great for endurance athletes but not if you’re looking for growth.
Most Don’t Use Enough Volume
This is the ironic part. Instead of doing more repetitions per set, you should be doing less repetitions per set, but more sets. This way you get the volume you need. So the key is using more leverage so that you are challenged enough and a few reps per set gets you to overload the muscles. This helps them grow.
And by doing more sets of fewer reps, you are able to recruit more muscle fibers thanks to the higher volume in total. This is what stimulates muscle growth.
They Don’t Apply Periodization
Periodization is a bodybuilding term where there training is structured in a way where you set aside a certain amount of time, usually in weeks for a specific training purpose. This could be the fat loss phase, the muscle gaining phase, strength gain phase or a phase to shore up lagging body parts.
The goal is to cycle through different phases after you’ve gone through one phase. Periodization has been shown to be excellent in promoting muscle growth.
In the Bodyweight Overload Program, the system cycles through different parameters like changing the rest periods, exercises, number of sets, number of repetitions per set, difficulty of the exercises and workout duration so that your muscles are forced to keep adapting to new stimulus which is the only way they grow.
All these specifications are detailed in the book pdf.
Most Don’t Take Advantage of Split Training Routines
Split routines are when you divide the training days to specific muscle groups. So for example you could be working on your chest on Monday, your legs on Tuesday, your back on Thursday and so on. This is in contrast to full body routines where you mix upper and lower body exercises on the same day.
If you’re looking for overall strength doing the full body workouts are great. However a split routine is better if you’re looking to gain size. This is why most bodybuilders use this type of training schedule.
It allows you to fully focus on that body part for that day and all the energies into it.
It gives the muscle that was previously worked on more time to recover before the next time it gets trained again.
Todd Kuslikis’ program addresses all these in his book and training program.
Books and Materials You’ll Receive
Full Training Program
This is a 55 page PDF format book that contains the details of the Bodyweight Overload program. It lists the routines, schedule, exercises to do along with the number of sets and repetitions to perform for each day.
Just as important the book explains the different types of exercises and lays out the entire 6 week training plan. It also goes through the nutritional concepts along with the training concepts so you understand what it takes and what you should be doing to get results.
Meal Plan & Recipe Guide
This ebook is also in PDF format and includes 12 meal plans to follow. The nutritional aspect is actually more important if you want to get results make gains and also lose the extra fat. Your results will depend a lot on whether you are able to stick to the nutrition plan that the exercise program requires.
Overload Video Library
This is where you learn the exercises. There are 21 videos included here. The most important things we learned here is the use of the body as leverage. Understanding how you can distribute your body weight, and take advantage of angular training makes all the difference in increasing intensity of each exercise.
6 Week Workout Sheets
These are printable PDF forms that you can use to record your current training. This is one of the best ways to keep track and stay motivated.
Things We’re Not Too Fond of
- You need to be determined to learn and work on the exercises. This is not a get big quick program. If you haven’t had much physical activity like our friend who could only do 3 push ups at the beginning, it will take a while to get to the more advanced moves. The good news is he made significant gains, looks buff now and lost a lot of weight. But it does take commitment.
Things We Love About Bodyweight Overload
- You don’t need to sign up for a gym membership or buy expensive workout equipment like a machine, barbells or weight plates. All you need is a pull up/chin up bar and your own body.
- You get stronger, bigger and burn fat. This results in a bigger, more muscular physique that is well defined.
- You can use this if you’re still growing and afraid weights may stunt your growth. This is one of the fears of some individuals specially with lifting overhead or pulling on heavy barbells.