Building muscle with calisthenics isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult if the stimulus for hypertrophy keeps slipping through your fingers.
It’s quite common for people to work super hard and not building muscle regardless of what exercises or equipment they use or even what program they use. They hop from one program to the next, all the while trying to progress one aspect of their training while something else is regressing and keeping their results in check.
If you’ve been feeling like your efforts to build muscle have been a wild goose chase then give these simple tips a shot.
#1 Improve your tension control
You can only work a muscle to the degree you can engage it. It’s essential that weights, exercises and routines don’t use your muscles, it’s your muscles that use the weights and exercises. Furthermore, your muscles are used by your mind.
It all starts in your mind and the stronger your nervous system becomes, the stronger your muscles will become in turn.
#2 Maintain an ultra stable workout
Progression is the source of all growth, but it can be difficult to identify and build on small progressive steps if you’re unaware of them. Maybe you’ve been able to add just one extra rep to your program, or perhaps you moved in a slightly bigger range of motion.
Whatever the case, small improvements can be hard to identify and build upon when your workouts are all over the place. Keeping your workouts the same over time makes it a lot easier to notice even the smallest changes and capitalize on them.
#3 Adopt supportive lifestyle habits
It’s super difficult to progress the work capacity of your muscles when you’re tired, underfed and stressed out all the time. That’s why good sleep and dietary habits are essential for your muscle building success. Check out my page on healthy eating to learn more.
#4 Progress both the quality and quantity of your reps.
It’s easy to get caught up in the quality vs quantity see-saw. You set a goal to do 100 push-ups but your range of motion and technique suffers as your numbers go up. Then you change gears and do the best push-ups you can but can only manage a handful at a time.
Building muscle isn’t about quality or quantity. It’s about progressing both over time.
The way I look at it, is the purpose of reps is to challenge the technical quality of your exercise. So if you’re doing 20 pull-ups, your goal is to make the 20th pull-up just as good as the first and vice versa.