Episode 299 – The Most Effective Strategy To Build Muscle Without Weight

Written by Jonathan

If you’ve been listening for a while thank you for your support and continuing to tune in, if you’re new to the show, welcome and thanks for stopping by. When most people think about fitness they think of the specific exercises they need to do and they think about having the right equipment to get the most effective workout, but rarely do people take a step back to look at the mental components and the behaviours around fitness that not only help you get faster, stronger and more mobile, but also keep you consistent and motivated. That’s what this show’s all about, we hope you get some valuable information that is both useful and insightful, that will help you be the healthiest and most active version of yourself.  Now, let’s get to it.

I just got back from a ‘vacation’ in beautiful British Columbia, I have to put vacation in air quotes because for the most part it didn’t feel that way. We were there for a whole week, but social activities, family get together’s and a wedding right in the middle of the trip left us crammed end to end with very little in the way of free time to relax let alone workout or formally exercise, this meant I had to be creative in doing my exercises with the cramped schedule and no equipment. Like we’ve talked about in previous episodes I followed a few different strategies to make sure I got at least something in, I scheduled it in first thing in the morning, I had the program pre-built so I knew exactly what I was doing, I kept it really short as well, because I knew I would be prone to getting interrupted and I used this strategy which is the topic of today’s episode, I did everything really slowly, I mean really, really slowly, I did split squats for 6 to 8 seconds down and 6 to 8 back up, I did push-ups and pull-ups following the same tempo, I tried to do it with hanging leg raises, but it was just too hard, I had to settle for 2 to 3 seconds down and up because that was the slowest I could handle and my muscles were sore the days after I worked out despite the brevity and the fact I was only using my bodyweight.

I consider myself an advanced lifter, but I’ve never lifted with a tempo this slow in both directions and was very pleasantly surprised to experience just how effective it was. One of the reasons this method of training is so effective is that it keeps your muscles under tension for a longer period of time, by keeping your muscles under tension for longer they’re required to work harder which stimulates them to change. When they’re eccentrically contracting or lengthening as you contract the muscle, they have to work very hard to control the speed they lengthen and the more slowly you go, the harder they have to work and when you go the other way the same is true again except when you concentrically contract the muscles or shorten them you have to work even harder because you have to overcome the resistance.

It’s kind of like this, do you remember that time you opened a bag of chips or nuts where you just grabbed the bag ripped it open, but ripped it so hard and so quickly the bag exploded and food went everywhere, so the next time you opened the chips you tried to do it more slowly by gradually exerting more and more pressure until you had just enough that the bag would open without exploding everywhere? You probably noticed that it took way longer to gradually open the bag, your muscles were probably more tired and there’s a chance you weren’t strong enough to open it, because you weren’t able to sustain the pull for long enough.

Of course you don’t need a bag of chips to experience this you can just use your bodyweight to lift more slowly, maximize your time under tension and make your muscles work a bit harder when you don’t have any weight to lift, which can be on the road, in your house or even in the gym to add some variability into your workouts.  You can wait until you go on vacation to try this, but my recommendation would be to try it anyway sometime a lot sooner if only to see how your body responds and maybe you’ll find that this is actually the best way for your body to train and you’ll want to do it much more frequently.

You can apply this technique to any exercise you’re doing, try counting your steamboats 1  steamboat- 2 steamboats etc. down and up as many repetitions as you can,  until you can’t do it anymore, then switch up the exercises to something else and maybe, just maybe you’ll get to be as pleasantly surprised as I was and see for yourself how effective this workout really can be.

That’s it for today, thanks for tuning in and stopping by, before you take off I do have a small request, if you enjoy the show or find it useful please take a minute to leave us a review, it helps other people just like you to find us and we’re on a mission to help as many people as possible live longer happier and healthier lives and we need your help to get the message out.  

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