When most people think of bodybuilding and building muscle, they conjure up images of well-equipped gyms packed with expensive exercise equipment. These sorts of training venues are often costly to use and may even be hard to find in some parts of the world. Does this mean that, if you have no gym, you cannot build muscle? Definitely not!
Actually, building muscle without weights is possible so long as you apply yourself, follow the usual rules of proper nutrition and work hard.
Not convinced? Check out the physiques of typical male gymnasts. Impressive? I’ll say so!
Gymnasts train exclusively with bodyweight exercises; they simply do not lift any weights other than their own bodies. Many martial artists and boxers use the same “no-frills” approach to strength training and muscle building.
So how can you do a workout without weights? The answer is simple; do bodyweight exercises.
With bodyweight exercises, you are the machine, and you are also the barbell. In fact, you are the dumbbells and the squat rack as well as the exercise bench! With a little imagination, you can train every muscle in your body using the many weightless muscle building exercises that have been around literally forever.
Building Muscle Without Weights – 3 Exercises You Can Do at Home
In a nutshell, there are three main types of exercise you can use for building muscle without weights at home, or anywhere else you find yourself gymless. If you include a couple of variations of these three exercises in your workouts. You are all but guaranteed to work all of your major muscles in next to no time flat!
Squatting movements involve bending your legs and sitting down without actually resting your butt in a chair. Although you are probably strong enough to do this exercise with a barbell, do you have the mettle to do five sets of 100-reps with only 60-seconds rest between sets? How about doing 20-reps of squat jumps or doing 100-meters of walking lunges? One-legged squats, called pistols, are also much harder than they look! Bodyweight leg exercise needn’t be easy.
Push-ups (or press-ups) are a sufficient chest, shoulder and triceps training. There are dozens of types of push-ups that will ensure you never get bored of or outgrow this classic exercise. You can do them:
- On your knees, on your toes, with your feet elevated
- In a handstand position, with your hands raised on blocks to increase the range of movement
- With a band strung across your back to make them harder
- On the one hand, with your hands together, with your hands apart, with your hands balanced on a medicine ball, clapping your hands in mid-air.
It’s safe to say you will never fully master push-ups.
Pull-ups or chin-ups are not only a great bodyweight exercise; they are one of the best back and biceps exercises around period. Like the push-up as mentioned above, there are plenty of options that will ensure you never get bored of or outgrow this king of upper body exercises.
You can do them with wide hands, narrow hands, palms turned toward you or hands turned away, using a rope instead of a pull-up bar, while wearing a back pack or weighted vest, using a side-to-side motion, leaning back and pulling your sternum to the bar or using a lower bar and with your feet resting on the floor.
Being able to do lots of pull-ups is an impressive feat. More impressive is doing pull-ups with an extra weight strapped around your waist. Forget lat pulldowns and biceps curls. If you want a big back and powerful arms, do pull-ups.
This is clearly just a sampler. If you want to read more on the subject, then you should check out either of the following resources.
The first is called the Bodyweight Revolution, which has been put together by Adam and Ryan, a couple of leading bodyweight workout Gurus. They present you with an inexpensive, portable, and fun way to take your training with you, wherever your active life might lead.
The second recommended resource is a bit more Hard Core. And that’s TacFit Commando by Scott Sonnon. Scott’s “Flow Coach” workouts are taught to counter-terrorist professionals, Navy SEALs, and Marines. Also, recently has also found favor with MMA fighters. These high-performance workouts are fast, intense, and can be done anywhere, anytime.
Isometric Exercises to Build Muscle Without Weights
In addition to squats, press-ups, and pull-ups, you can also build your muscles without weights by performing isometric exercises. Isometric exercises involve lots of muscle tension but no actual joint movement.
For example, if you sit and lean your back against a wall and then hold that position, you’ll soon feel your leg muscles working hard despite the fact you aren’t actually moving. The so-called plank is a similarly effective isometric abs exercise. With a little thought, it is possible to exercise every muscle in your body using isometrics.
Needless to say, mastering exercises like single-arm push-ups and one-legged pistol squats is not easy. Especially because of the lightest weight you’ll ever lift is your body weight. However, with practice and perseverance, you’ll soon be knocking out rep after rep and forging not only bigger muscles but also stronger muscles.
Unlike many barbells and resistance machine exercises, bodyweight exercises are generally easy on your joints and very safe. For example, if you fail during a set of bench pressing, you may well find yourself pinned under a heavy barbell in desperate need of assistance. However, if you fail during a set of push-ups, all you need to do is drop to your knees.
Likewise, getting stuck under a bar while doing a heavy set of squats is a spinal injury waiting to happen.
However, while doing a set of one-legged pistol squats, all you need to do is sit down if you run out of gas.
Combined with a sound bodybuilding nutritional approach, plenty of rest and the use of some selective supplements such as legal steroid supplements, you can develop an amazing physique using nothing more than your body for resistance. Remember; you are your own exercise machine!