Natural bodybuilders believe that lifting weights is the only way to get big. They pump up their muscles in the gym, flex in front of the mirror and feel happy when a bee stings them on the biceps.
What did you expect? We live in a biceps worship world.
People have been successfully convinced that they need to spend their hard earned money on gym memberships. There are gyms that offer annual memberships and are willing to do anything to get your signature. It’s business as usual. Fortunately, there is a way to cut on these expenses. The secret is not a new concept. In fact, it’s very old and dates back to the creation of the world. It’s called – bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises are amazing. You don’t need a gym and results are pretty good if you put some effort into it.
People usually workout for about 1 hour. Then they go home and eat for another half an hour. If you add the travel time, the whole time dedicated to lifting is easily 3-4 hours. That’s not an investment to be ignored. It’s a part time job. Luckily for you, it’s very easy to save some time and money by performing a hybrid workout – combining bodyweight exercises and weightlifting in the gym for optimal results.
Bodyweight exercises are very effective. Many people can even reach their maximum muscular potential as natural bodybuilders by doing solely bodyweight exercises. Many great upper bodies have been developed solely through bodyweight movements. A good example would be the Olympic gymnasts. Of course, they aren’t natural because Olympics and “steroid free” simply do not belong in the same sentence. However, gymnasts unlike bodybuilders do not take steroids to get big. They count on it for recovery and strength. Gymnastic are mainly a skill based sport (unlike bodybuilding) and beyond a certain point any extra muscle becomes counterproductive. You just can’t perform the moves when you weight 240 lbs. Form always follows functions. Consequently, gymnasts have developed huge upper body and thin but explosive legs.
One thing is certain – there are enough bodyweight exercises in the world to give your upper body something to do until the end of your life.
What about legs?
Training your legs with bodyweight movements is tricky. If arms were meant to build, legs were designed to destroy. In other words, legs are the engine. There are many bodyweight exercises that promote leg hypertrophy, regardless of what the “experts” say. One of the best is sprinting. Sprinting is explosive running. It murders your posterior chain – hamstrings and glutes. It’s not uncommon for strong squatters to go for a sprint only to realize the next day that their hamstrings were killed. Since sprints really hit the fast twitch fibers of the leg, they also build muscle. A quick comparison between famous sprinters and marathon runners reveals which activity promotes and requires serious muscle hypertrophy. Additionally, you can add different kind of jumping exercises to really finish the leg musculature. However, it would be foolish to say that the classic exercises such as squats, legs presses and deadlifts are not highly beneficial to the lower body. They are, and many sprinters are incorporating them in their routines.
To get the best of both worlds you should rely on build your upper body with bodyweight exercises while using weights only for your lower body. That way you can cut your time in the gym by two and still achieve optimal stimulation for each body part.
Good bodyweight exercises for the upper body would be: push-ups, dips, pull-ups, muscle-ups, hang raises, Australian pull-ups, bodyweight curls, handstand push-ups…etc.
The optimal weightlifting exercises for the legs are: squats, leg presses and deadlifts. Exercises such as leg extensions, hamstring curls are only good as part of a rehabilitation process. Otherwise their execution is purely optional.
Related article: The Gym Membership Scam
Note: If you are a natural bodybuilder, no amount of exercises will ever make you look like Mike O’Hearn, Greg Plitt or other fitness models. Those physiques take a little “more”. To understand what kind of physique is possibly naturally read THIS article.
Many people find our numbers for naturals “depressing”, but the truth is that 90% of the population will be fine with the end result. Especially, if the body fat is low enough.