Working with weights can be cumbersome and difficult for some. Strength training without weights is an excellent way to gain power while avoiding the sometimes stressful weight room workout. Isometrics and calisthenics are great alternatives that, more often than not, get you outside of a stifling gym and into a fresh air workout.
Envision Your Muscles
Search images of muscle groups online or pick yourself up an anatomy book with good photos or renderings of muscles and become familiar with them. Most people know more about their car or cell phone than they do about their own body. Envisioning the striation of each muscle group as it is being worked will, believe it or not, help strengthen it.
The definition of "isometrics" is working muscles without range of motion. It usually involves an immovable object, such as pushing against a wall with the arms or legs. This will build muscle at the joint insertion and is an excellent beginning non-weight bearing workout (after stretching of course). In addition, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked of 'Iso-Tension' as exercise, which is tightening muscle groups after or during a workout. This can be another visual tool if done in front of a mirror.
This word is often associated with the dreaded physical education class many endured during childhood. These forms of exercise can, however, produce astounding results. Professional NFL player Herschel Walker only used calisthenics when playing for the University of Georgia. Push ups, pull ups and sit ups are the holy grail and he was up to 1000 reps per workout. This may be extreme for you, however, minor adjustments will also build muscle. Safely placing something or someone on your upper back during push ups, or hugging something heavy, such as a large book, during sit ups is also helpful. Squats and calf raises are also good leg workouts.
Slow As You Go
Working without weights will be very beneficial if you slow down. Try counting ten to twelve seconds on the positive output (such as pushing up from a push up) and not fully extending at the end, and then counting six to eight seconds on the negative output (coming down from a push up) while again not allowing a full completion. This will not only build muscle, it will work most of the muscle group since balancing against gravity incorporates a full burn.
Limited Time in Between
Cutting your rest period in between exercises is another technique that will enhance muscle building. Slowly bring your time from about sixty seconds down in fifteen second intervals until your rest time is a mere ten seconds to none. It is a challenge and produces great results. In addition, this can be alternated so as not to get over fatigued.
Keep it Safe
Building muscle without weights can sometimes be more challenging regarding safety.
- Try not to workout alone or at least make sure someone is within the vicinity in case of an accident.
- Watch your form and listen to your body. A burn feels good, a strain or tear does not.
- Support your back.
- Stay hydrated