Gain Mass and Muscle with Bodyweight Training

The major gripe people have with bodyweight training is that the conventional exercises are too easy and do not provide enough resistance for gaining muscle mass. Yet there are options for gaining mass with bodyweight training. The traditional option is just to substitute the conventional bodyweight exercises with more challenging variations. A list of such mass gaining bodyweight exercises can be found in an earlier article, Challenging Bodyweight Exercises for Gaining Muscle Mass.

Exercising using bodyweight exercises can not only help you gain muscle mass, but it builds tremendous functional strength. Functional strength is especially important if you are looking to gain mass for a particular sport, since all the muscle mass you gain will not only look good, but it will also work very well. Additionally, bodyweight training can increase your flexibility which helps prevent injuries.

Until recently this was the only option, but now Nick Nilsson has come up with what he calls Time Volume Training which makes it possible to build mass and muscle using bodyweight exercises.

Time Volume Training uses a high volume of work with short rest intervals which is vital for putting on muscle mass. This means performing a small number of reps of a bodyweight exercise followed by a short rest period and repeating. When you cannot complete the reps of the bodyweight exercise with the given rest period, extend the rest period 10 or so seconds until you can. Nilsson recommends 15 minutes per bodyweight exercise for large muscle groups (chest, back, glutes, quads for example) and 10 minutes for smaller muscle groups (calves, triceps, biceps for example).

Mass Building How to

Pick a bodyweight exercise (examples of good exercises are given below)

Complete as many sets of 3 reps with 10 seconds rest in between sets

When you cannot complete the reps with the 10 second rest period, extend the rest period 10 seconds

Continue this pattern for 10 or 15 minutes, depending on what muscle group you are targeting, adding 10 seconds rest when you get too fatigued

Suitable Bodyweight Exercises for Gaining Mass

Chest Bodyweight Exercises


Wide grip press-ups

Back Bodyweight Exercises

Wide grip Pull-ups

Inverted rows

Shoulder Bodyweight Exercises

Hand stand press-ups

High incline press-ups

Biceps Bodyweight Exercises

Close grip pull-ups (reverse grip)

Triceps Bodyweight Exercises

Close grip press-ups

Abdominals Bodyweight Exercises

Russian twists


Any sort of sit-up variation will work well

Glutes/Quads Bodyweight Exercises

Squat jumps

1 legged pistol squats

Calf Bodyweight Exercises

Calf raises

For more on Nillson's Time volume training, click here.

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