Like every other human on the planet, my buddy Callum and I decided we wanted to get in shape this year. But not like we have in previous years. No, this time we were serious. (I know everybody says that, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one).

We love overeating and being lazy, yet we’re both painfully aware that those short-term pleasures are nothing compared to the satisfaction of having a great physique and a healthy body.

muscular man cheering

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

So we started. We ditched the late night carb-fests and stopped sitting on our asses all day every day. We devised a points system, whereby various daily habits would grant each of us with one point. The person with the least points at the end of every month would have to buy the other person dinner.

You didn’t come here to learn about New Year’s resolutions, though. You came here to learn about building muscle - and here’s what our silly little points system has taught me.

Bodyweight Exercises are Hugely Underrated

Callum and I work freelance, and if there’s anything a freelancer knows about seasonal income, it’s that nobody wants to pay you money at Christmas time. Starting the new year poorer than ever, neither of us could really afford to pay for an expensive gym membership.

So to circumvent the obstacle that was our post-holiday pennilessness, we decided to stick to at-home bodyweight exercises.

I used to hit the gym at least four times a week in my teens. I thought the only way to pack on lean muscle was to eat more animals and move a lot of heavy things. Wrong.

Since working out from home, running every other day and performing a basic home workout on a regular basis, I’ve never been in better shape.

Whereas before I deemed it impossible to get in shape without forking out $60/month and tearing my muscles into oblivion, now I’m literally working out in my bathroom every night - and I’m fitter and healthier than ever.

We’re All Too Damn Busy

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that bodyweight exercises will allow you to gain more muscle mass than lifting weights at the gym. Kai Greene wouldn’t stand a chance of maintaining his physique if he switched to doing 100 push-ups a day and eating salad.

But most of us aren’t trying to look like Kai Greene. In fact, most of us would be more than happy to lose a couple pounds and be able to locate those elusive abdominal muscles we supposedly have.

The issue, however, is that we just don’t have time to pump six hours into the gym every week - and many of us don’t have the money to, either. That’s where bodyweight exercises come in.

My fianceé has cancer. I’m living with her and her parents at the moment to help care for her, which means I don’t really have my own space to workout, meditate or do my own thing.

And yet, I’m still raking in my points by working out in her bathroom. I’m doing bicycle crunches while I try to avoid elbowing her toilet and using a shower mat to prevent myself from getting carpet burn.

The point I’m making is that no matter how busy or poor you are, you can get in shape at home. Heck, if I can get abs by exercising on the bathroom floor, you can, too.

What A Good Bodyweight Workout Should Consist Of

Enough about my life story and unconventional workout routine. Let’s discuss the fundamentals of a great bodyweight workout.

Arms, Shoulders, and Back

Any well-rounded workout should consist of a range of upper-body exercises. I like to perform 90 push-ups a day - 30 close-grip, 30 wide-grip, and 30 standard-width push-ups.

You can use my push-up routine, perform dips, pikes, pull-ups - whatever you like.

You might be surprised to learn that there are actually plenty of killer exercises for your arms, back, and shoulders that you can perform in the comfort of your home (or bathroom) - just be sure to mix things up in order to target all areas of your upper body.

Abs

There are a ton of ab workouts that you can experiment with at home, each targeting different areas of your abdominal wall. Some of these include:

I’d recommend selecting 3-4 exercises and building up an ab workout routine that you can actually stick to. Be sure to combine sit-up motions with bottom-up motions like leg raises to hit your upper and lower abs equally, sculpting those abs and creating a balanced physique.

Legs

I know you don’t want to hear it, but I’m going to tell you anyway. You know it’s true. You’re going to have to incorporate some leg exercises into your workout routine if you really want to get in shape.

According to Livestrong,

Leg workouts stimulate some of the largest muscles in your body, which helps create a metabolic state that is conducive to muscle-building. You can build muscle in your upper body without working out your legs, but working all the major muscles in your body will lead to faster and better results.

Squats, lunges, wall-sits. They suck, I know. But you’re just going to have to grit your teeth and push through it.

Big Results, Low Cost

By working out at home and utilizing your body weight as your main form of resistance, you can make a lot more progress than many people realize. There's no doubt that working out with a trainer or in a professional facility can yield amazing results, but the reality is that not everybody has the spare cash to be able to do that. Getting familiar with bodyweight exercises and investing twenty dollars here and there in upgrading your own home gym equipment can keep you on track with your fitness goals and on par with high paying gym goers.