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How to Build Muscle using Bodyweight Training – Interview with Greg O'Gallagher

My friend, mentor, and partner Greg O’Gallagher just released his new course: The Bodyweight Mastery Program!

Today we sat down to discuss how the programs works. Here’s a summary of what we covered in the video:

If you can build a strong and muscular physique with weight training alone, why would you care about bodyweight training?

1. So you don’t lose your gains when you can’t make it to the gym (think vacation or times when you’re very busy). With bodyweight training, you can do your workout anywhere!

2. To add more variety to your training. If you keep trying to progress on a movement that has stalled, you will usually regress and get weaker. This is called monotonous overtraining, a maladaptation of the neuromuscular system. Your central nervous system requires a new and fresh stimulus to continue making gains and that new fresh stimulus can be a bodyweight exercise.

3. It’s easier on the joints. If you’re having constant joint pain for lifting weights, you could do bodyweight exercises instead until the pain goes away.

4. It looks damn COOL! When was the last time you’ve witnessed someone at the gym do a chinup with only the use of one arm? Or how about hang from a pull up bar and keeping their entire body and arms straight, lift themselves up until their body was parallel to the ground?

You’ve probably never seen that (I haven’t).

This is the reason why Hollywood films turn to bodyweight exercises for workout scenes and clips… For example, in the show Arrow, Stephen Amell is doing muscle ups, hanging leg raises and one arm push-ups in the training montage scene.
And people flipped over that montage!

5. Bodyweight training promotes incredible aesthetics because you need to be very lean! This is because dieting and body weight training complement each other. Getting leaner and losing fat improves your bodyweight training performance. On the other hand, dropping weight tends to decrease weight training performance.

Can someone go from completely out-of-shape to looking amazing using only bodyweight training?


To lose fat they’ll have to have their nutrition set properly.

And to build muscle they’ll have to do progressively harder and harder exercises.

Doing a lot of reps on easy exercises like regular push-ups, pull-ups or bodyweight squats isn’t going to build much muscle. The reason for that is because the resistance must be heavy enough to cause growth.

“Fast-twitch” muscle fibers (the ones involved in explosiveness and high force production and the ones with the greatest potential for growth) are recruited properly only when you use loads that are higher than 60% of your 1RM.

Using a low load you primarily recruit the “slow-twitch” muscle fibers – the ones very resistant to fatigue and with a lower potential for growth and force output. These are not the muscle fibers we should focus most of our attention on, these are best for muscular endurance not strength.

So the main reason low loads are not optimal for growth is that they don’t provide enough tension to recruit all muscle fibers.

More on this in the article Best Rep Range For Muscle Growth – How Heavy Should You Train?

So the key to building muscle using with bodyweight exercises is not adding reps, it’s using exercises that challenge you in a medium rep range.

The 6 primary movements you should focus on are these:

  • Chin-ups & Pull-ups Variations / Muscle-ups (for developing the back, biceps and rear delts)
  • Push-up Variations (for developing your chest and triceps)
  • Pike Push-ups / Handstand Push-ups (for your delts)
  • Different variations of one legged squats (for your legs)
  • Back Bridges and L-sits (for your core and flexibility)
  • Hanging Leg Raises / Front Levers (for developing your abs)

How to you go from doing easy exercises like bodyweight chin-ups to doing one arm chin-ups? Or bodyweight push-ups to doing one arm push-ups?

You do it step by step.

It’s impossible to go directly from doing bodyweight chin-ups for example to doing one arm chin-ups. It’s not only a matter of strength, it’s also a matter of technique.

As an example, for chin-ups the progression would look like this:

1 – Bodyweight Chin-ups
2 – Bodyweight Pull-ups
3 – Side to side Pull-ups (to hit each side with a higher intensity)
4 – Towel assisted one arm chin-ups (see the video at 10:27)
5 – Towel assisted one arm chin-ups with your finger barely holding the towel
6 – One arm chin-ups
7 – One arm pull-ups

When you get to one arm pull-ups or chin-ups your back will be huge.

You do the same thing with all exercises, it’s a step by step progression model. In Greg’s Bodyweight Mastery Program these are laid out in phases. There are 8 phases in total that take your from being a complete beginner to bodyweigth mastery.

These are the main points we cover in the video, but there are a lot of other small tips scattered around so make sure to watch it in full ! If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Any other type of feedback is also welcomed! 


The Bodyweight Mastery Program

I knew virtually nothing about building muscle using bodyweight exercises before I delved into this program.

After reading it I now know how to set a progression system that leads to strength gains and muscle growth. The chapters on progression are what make this program very valuable in my opinion. I’ve never heard or read this stuff anywhere else.

As with any other Kinobody product, I highly recommend it !

Click here if you want to learn more about it.


  1. Moonlight15 on October 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Trebuie sa intru saptamana viitoare la mentinere ! Sunt moderat de activ , ma duc la sala de 5 ori pe saptamana , pe jos , fotbal din cand in cand in week-end + cateva minute mers pe jos la intoarcerea de la scoala.( Folosesc numarul 33)

    61x 33= 2013

    Acum, cum impart proteinele,grasimile si carbohidratii?

    • Radu Antoniu on October 13, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      2g de proteine pe kg,
      25% din calorii din grasimi
      restul carbohidrati

  2. Mihaita PAul on October 9, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Buna Radu! Apreciez munca pe care o depui si vin si eu cu o intrebare mai complexa. Sunt vegan, merg la sala cam de o luna ( ridicat de greutati ) , si de mai multe luni fac cardio pentru a slabi. Am ajuns de la 96 la 70 de kg (68 acum) si am 1.84 inaltime, 19 ani. Acum o saptamana cantarul cu impedanta imi arata ca am 15% procent de grasime cand aveam 70 de kg, si acum cand am 68 imi arata 16% grasime, adica ca masa musculara a scazut…Am grija sa mananc zilnic cantitatea necesara de proteine din nuci, naut, linte,ovaz in timp ce imi tin caloriile undeva la 2000-2200. La sala merg de 5 ori pe saptamana si fac grupe musculare diferite in functie de zi. In acelasi timp tin si intermitent fasting 16/8 sau 18/6, chiar si 20/4 (fast/feast) . Ar trebui sa imi fac probleme ca imi scade masa musculara si nu grasimea? Deasemenea la 70 de kg aveam in talie 90-91 si acum , la 68 de kg am 89-90 88 cateodata.

    • Radu Antoniu on October 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Nu pune pret pe ce spune cantarul cu impedanta, sunt FOARTE imprecise. Am scris despre asta aici.

      Daca mananci destule proteine si te antrenezi cu greutati (iar forta iti ramane la fel sau creste) nu pierzi masa musculara.

  3. Moonlight15 on October 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

    L-am urmarit pe Marc Fitt – pentru mentinere am nevoie de Proteine: 35 % —> 225 g
    Grasimi: 25 % —-> 72 g
    Carbohidrati: 40 % —> 258 g

    Total: 2582 kcal …. si asta doar pentru mentinere.

  4. Moonlight15 on October 11, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Alea sunt pentru 61 de kg 🙂

  5. Alin on March 23, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Salut,Radu! Iti urmaresc postarile si apreciez munca pe care o depui.Am venit cu o intrebare(de fapt mai multe).M-am apucat de sala si fac Bodyweight Mastery Program de la Kinobody.Am 1.72m si ~70kg.Vreau sa scap de grasime si sa pun masa in acelasi timp.M-am gandit ca numitorul comun este de a face antrenamentul din program si sa mananc dupa cum zice Greg in Agressive Fat Loss.Vreau sa stiu daca e bine ce fac,ce schimbari sa fac daca nu fac bine si daca ma avantajeaza mai mult intermittent fasting decat Agressive Fat Loss.De asemenea vreau sa stiu care este mai bun dintre Bodyweight mastery program si Greek God program.:)

    • Radu Antoniu on March 29, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Salut Alin!

      Da in regula sa urmezi alimentatia din AFL si sa faci Bodyweight mastery.

      Strict pentru crestere musculara antrenamentele cu gretauti sunt mai bune decat cele cu greutatea corpului. Deci pentru crestere GGP ar fi mai potrivit. Dar daca iti place mult bodyweight training-ul poti urma rutinele hibride din BMP. Acolo pe langa exercitiile cu greutatea corpului adaugi si antrenamente cu greutati.

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