The Muscle Experiment is a muscle-building, bodyweight workout plan designed specifically for hypertrophy, rather than fat loss or other calisthenics skills.
The program applies the same principle of progressive overload of weight training by using only your own bodyweight rather than adjustable plates and barbell.
This plan is an eye-opener for those who think building muscle with just bodyweight is impractical and more difficult than free weights because of the fixed body weight variable.
The Muscle Experiment method stresses the importance of angle of leverage and TUT, or time under tension, rather than predetermined repetition ranges as in weight lifting.
Hypertrophy and gains are achieved through “how” you perform the sets, rather than by setting repetition world records with sloppy form, just for the sake of increasing reps number.
This review will reveal to you what this program by Mike Thiga is all about, its pros and cons.
Who Is It For?
This is a program suitable not just for people who prefer bodyweight training, but also for weight lifters and bodybuilders who want a change in their routines and build extra muscle naturally.
The Muscle Experiment is particularly attractive to people without access to a gym or those who do not want to spend money on gym memberships because it gives a solid, equipment-free blueprint to build muscle. Young people on a tight budget will find this aspect essential.
This plan is also suitable for people who travel or who prefer to workout outdoor, in parks, on the beach or anywhere, or again just at home.
You should also check our Bar Brothers review.
What Is The Muscle Experiment?
The experiment of the program is a nod to the trial and error phase that Mike Thiga had to go through, weeding out the useless exercises from the effective ones, before he could make it into a viable plan.
For muscle building purposes, this program focuses on a different approach to calisthenics. All routines are geared toward building mass along with strength.
Most calisthenics programs focus o HIIT for fat loss or just pure strength, without a worry about building muscle. The exercises in The Muscle Experiment are designed to achieve muscle growth through simultaneous fiber recruitment.
The more muscle fibers you stress simultaneously, the higher the stimulation and the hypertrophy. That is not achieved by increasing forever the number of repetitions, though reps also have their time and place.
Time Under Tension
The solution is Time Under Tension, which is the amount of time your muscles work when doing a set. Rather than concentrating on repetitions, the program tells you how to perform sets with a quality, correct form so that it takes at least 40 seconds to finish the set.
Longer sets induce more stress and more muscle growth, this is nothing new, the principle stands valid for free weight training too, but it is even more important for bodyweight training where you do not have the luxury to adjust resistance with plates and you have to make your own bodyweight work in the most effective manner.
Aside from proper form and longer sets that activate the most number of muscle fibers, the program goes on to explain the 7 principles that help add mass, 3 more core fundamentals of gaining muscle without weights, and over 30 muscle-building bodyweight exercises.
Duration And Schedule
The Muscle Experiment is a 6-month program. It does not promise quick results but makes it clear that it takes time and dedication for results, especially for natural trainees.
The standard workout intensity is for beginners and intermediates, but there is also a bonus 6-month advanced plan for those with a solid foundation.
The time commitment is less than 4 hours per week. Considering that you do not need a gym or waste time commuting, these are 4 clean hours that you can dedicate to training from the comfort of home, in a park, or while traveling.
Muscle Building Exercises
Mike Thiga has selected calisthenics moves that promote strength and hypertrophy. He weeded out pointless exercises like burpees or planks and instead concentrated on multi-joint, compound moves like push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, handstands, handstand pushups, parallel dips, and so on.
The reason for this is to promote stimulus and growth by targeting more muscle groups at the same time, which has a far greater impact on your metabolic rate, nervous system, natural testosterone production, and growth hormone.
Anything that involves pushing or pulling yourself up and down in any plane, vertical or horizontal, promotes growth. This is the foundation of the program for a good reason.
Fancy-free calisthenics that you see on YouTube where athletes defy gravity can only be achieved after years of basic, compound exercises like the ones used in The Muscle Experiment, not before.
What Equipment Do You Need?
Being a basic, muscle-building bodyweight plan, you almost need no equipment at all, save for a bar to do pull-ups. Even then, you could do them hanging from a branch if you want no gear at all.
As you progress in strength, muscle growth, and experience, you may want to add monkey bars or a straight bar, parallettes, parallels, rings, or any simple and inexpensive calisthenics piece of equipment for more varied and challenging workouts.
Also. calisthenics equipment is by default much cheaper, lighter, and easier to store than full sets of barbells + plates or home gyms, useful if you live in an apartment with limited space.
However, you can still perform the majority of muscle building bodyweight exercises without any equipment.
About Mike Thiga
Mike Thiga is a former skinny guy, or ectomorph, standing at 6 ft tall with a bodyweight of just 148lbs at his heaviest! Like most underweight guys, he wanted to put some muscle on his bony frame and get stronger.
So he did what just millions of guys in the world do in order to address the problem. He joined a gym, but there is when more trouble started.
Aside from being skinny, a very common occurrence, Mike also had to deal with a withered right arm that would make it a little bit more challenging to start up his weight lifting training, at least to start with.
The result was a wholly negative experience with personal trainers who approached him with an exaggerated bias towards his physical requirements, most probably because of fear to be held accountable in case he injured himself while training.
That is when he decided to train with just his own body weight, without negative interference. Even then, it first went into a ton of trial and errors in order to find a real muscle building calisthenics routine, as most bodyweight programs he came across were are geared toward fat loss, general fitness, and leanness. That is until he cracked it, putting on 39 lbs in 6 months.
The bottom line is that Mike Thiga is a regular guy who turned into a self-made calisthenics expert and body weight-bodybuilder who managed to overcome obstacles in life to become not just big and jacked but also the creator of this unique bodyweight-only program for muscle building.
The Muscle Experiment Contents
- The Muscle Experiment Super-Freak Manual – The foundation of the program with all the information you need on calisthenics, bodyweight exercises, and the exact sets and repetitions range you must adhere to for hypertrophy.
- The 8-Pack Manual – A manual covering specifically abs. The abs regimen should be initiated after the first 6 months of the standard program. The blueprint also includes calorie-burning cardio routines.
- Body Weight Exercise Database – A list of the very best muscle building bodyweight exercises with demonstrations on how to perform the movements.
- Muscle Building Meal Plans – The nutritional part of the program to be used hand in hand with the Anabolic Calorie Calculator. The meals are categorized per total calories so you know which ones to go for depending on your calorie needs as per the calculator.
- The A2 Factor – A manual looking into Branched Chain Amino Acids. These amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are essential for your muscle building.
- Printable Workout Logs – This is an often overlooked aspect of a training regimen. People tend to forget to log their performance so that they know where they are progressing and where they need to pay attention. The workout logs help you stay motivated and on track.
- Anabolic Calorie Calculator – A software to calculate your daily calorie intake so as to stay in an anabolic state for muscle growth. You just input your height, gender, weight, and age and you get your caloric needs.
- Advanced 24-Week Muscle Gain Program – This is the workout plan for those with a solid training history to help you break through plateaus with more challenging exercises.
- Life Updates – Whenever an update occurs, you get it for free, for life.
The Muscle Experiment is a no-nonsense, bodyweight program designed around the most effective exercises and training routines for muscle building.
It leaves behind anything that serves no purpose for hypertrophy and strength and instead it gives a simple, effective, and time-efficient blueprint to build muscle using just your own body weight.
Like weight lifting training plans for muscle growth, The Muscle Experiment is also designed around the principle of progressive overload.
What makes this program desirable, is that it provides clear instructions on how to achieve progressive overload with your own, fixed body weight and spur muscle growth, a very important aspect for effective muscle building with calisthenics that is often not specifically addressed.
To conclude, The Muscle Experiment is the ideal program for those who want to build muscle without a gym, anywhere, and with little or no equipment.
Jay always had a passion for fitness. A former skinny guy, he built himself 35 lb of lean muscle over the years using different training strategies, going through failures and eventually succeeding, and now wants to share his knowledge with those who value fitness as a way of life (See all posts by Jay Fielding).