Building muscle without weights is a combination of 3 different things. 1. Adequate loading of the targeted muscle, 2. Getting the needed nutrition – namely protein, and 3. Letting your muscles rest or recover from training.
Scientific studies have shown that muscles optimally increase in size when the muscle itself is exercised to the point of fatigue or even failure. This can be easily achieved when doing bodyweight exercises. You already know this, but, most people when just starting out can only do very few reps of any exercise (push up, pull up, squat ) using their body weight before they reach their limit. With this in mind, you can see how actually building muscle may be easier to do without weights than it is with weights.
Increases in muscle size is primarily due to something called “protein synthesis”, where the components of the muscle increase in size and number when the muscle is fatigued. However, there are also other contributing factors, such as increased vascularity and blood flow to the muscle that add to it’s size too.
Protein synthesis is a process where your body actually builds new muscle protein using the protein from the foods that you have eaten. This is why it’s really important to focus on your nutrition when you are focusing on building muscle without using weights. If you don’t have adequate protein in your system, your body has nothing to work with and so you won’t see the gains in muscle mass that you’re looking for.
Your body will start to rebuild muscle tissue during what is called the “recovery” phase. This is the rest period of a day or two between exercise periods. For instance, if you train your chest to failure on Monday, you’ll want to take a break on Tuesday to allow your body to recover, rebuild, and replace, the chest muscle proteins that were worked on Monday. And you’ll want to have enough protein and amino acids in your system so it can get to work right after your workout.
Building muscle without weights is simple to do. However, like any training program, a written exercise plan, including goals and daily activities is need to accurately track your progress so you know when to increase reps and/or intensity.
You can learn more about the importance of nutrition on muscle building in this article.