You don't always need to be hitting weights if you usually resistance train with them and have hit a plateau or are just starting out in building more muscle. Sometimes it's good to return to the basics to build up your strength and power and this burpees workout is a great no-equipment way to do so.
There is no denying that home gym equipment like some of the best adjustable dumbbells are effective at aiding muscle growth. The weight provides stress to your muscles when lifting and this causes them to adapt and strengthen. But bodyweight workouts are often underrated, despite being an effective way to gain muscle mass without requiring a gym membership or buying any kit.
According to research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (opens in new tab) burpees can be used for exercise that requires 'upper and lower body power to weight integration to produce a maximal effort'. The 2019 study compared burpee training with sprint training before recommending burpee training as a beneficial addition to strength and conditioning programs.
The 15-minute burpee workout below was shared by fitness instructor and former Ironman racer, Courtney Anderson (opens in new tab). The short yet challenging routine will take you through various different burpee variations in the format of a HIIT workout.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and requires you to complete short bouts of intense movement followed by periods of rest or lower intensity exercise. Anderson's session—which you can watch her demonstrate below—alternates between 50 seconds on and 10 seconds rest.
Watch Courtney Anderson's 15-minute burpee challenge
Burpees are one of many calisthenic exercises that use your own body weight as a form of resistance to build strength and muscle mass. Burpees put your upper and lower body to work helping to improve strength and power in your legs, hips, glutes, arms, chest, and shoulders.
Lot's of people avoid burpees at all costs. The thought of dropping down to the floor into a push-up position and springing yourself back up to standing as you bounce into the air is pretty demanding, and not so friendly on the joints. There are alternative burpee variations that avoid jumping for people who suffer from knee or ankle pain during exercise. You might also want to consider taking one of the best supplements for joints to help relieve pain in these areas.
But if the thought of burpees isn't for you and you still want to build muscle without any high-impact movement or heavy lifting involved, you don't have to worry. The simple answer to the question can you build muscle without weights is yes, you can, as long as you have some form of resistance to work against.
If it's not your bodyweight serving as a force during a burpee then consider adding some resistance bands to your training. These are great low-impact accessories that can enhance various strength-building exercises such as donkey kicks or squats.
Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition.
When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.
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