With many folks stuck indoors and not able to get to their favorite fitness facilities, they may be thinking they’re doomed to, at best, become cardio bunnies. But, it turns out that nothing could be further from the truth! You don’t have to rely on just cardio to get in shape and stay that way: You can actually build muscles without weights!
Does this sound too good to be true? It’s not! You can do an at-home workout that will have you burning plenty of calories, improving your strength, boosting your level of fitness, and building muscle. All you need is your own body weight coupled with a few simple (and inexpensive) training accessories to do it!
What is Required to Build Muscle?
Building muscle means being strategic about your training and nutrition. While there are many factors involved in packing on metabolically active body mass (like sleep, nutrient timing, supplementation, and more), two of the biggest factors are nutrition and resistance training.
One of the important building blocks for increasing your muscle mass is your nutrition. Your nutrition needs to include enough protein to allow your body to maintain and build muscle mass. Since muscle is built from protein, you’ll want to make sure you get about one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. (Or, you can aim for one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight if you have a lot of body fat to lose).
Also extremely important for muscle growth is resistance training. Resistance training is also called strength training, weight lifting, or bodyweight training. It’s key when it comes to overall health, strength, fat burning, and wellness. Training against resistance will force your muscles to become stronger over time and to build additional mass to handle the workload.
How to Build Muscles Without Weights Guide
What You’ll Need:
- Resistance Bands
- Stability ball
- Your own bodyweight
Warmup—always start with at least a five-minute warmup. You can walk, jog in place, walk up and down stairs, do jumping jacks, dance, or do body squats. Or, make up your own warmup. Just ensure you feel warm and loose prior to starting your resistance training.
During your first week, after a thorough warmup, go through all the exercises and do 15 repetitions for each one. Rest for one to two minutes and progress to the next exercise. Continue this pace until you have finished all exercises listed.
During week 2, you can add a second run through at 15 reps for each exercise.
For week 3, go through each exercise with strict form for one set of 15 repetitions, but pause and hold the squeeze at the top of each movement for a count of 5.
Week 4, do the same as you did during week three but also perform the negative portion of the exercise over the course of a five-second count. This will tax your muscles more than if you simply allow gravity to take over.
Cool down and stretch—aim for a nice 5-minute cooldown, including stretching of all the muscles worked.
9 Exercises to Build Muscles Without Weights
1. Stability Ball Pushups—place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground in front of you with your palms down. Stretch your legs out straight behind you and put them on the top of a stability ball. Holding your core tight, with your weight over your arms and shoulders, bend at the elbows and bring yourself down into a pushup position. Straighten your arms to raise yourself back up to the starting position. Keep your head, back, glutes, and legs in a straight line while performing this exercise and feel a good stretch through your chest muscles.
Note: You can also do regular pushups or pushups on your knees until you get strong enough to do variations on the normal pushup.
2. Lateral Band Walk—this exercise can be done with a looped band around your ankles or thighs (make sure they’re NOT on your knees). Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. The band should be relatively taut as you stand there. Next, bend your knees down into a partial squat and then take a big step to the side with your right leg. Pause and bring your left leg in next to your right leg to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Go back and forth between the right and left sides until you have performed 10 repetitions on each side.
3. Lateral Band Walk—this exercise can be done with a looped band around your ankles or thighs (make sure they’re NOT on your knees). Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. The band should be relatively taut as you stand there. Next, bend your knees down into a partial squat and then take a big step to the side with your right leg. Pause and bring your left leg in next to your right leg to return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Go back and forth between the right and left sides until you have performed 10 repetitions on each side.
4. Triceps Kickbacks—using a band, attach it to a secure low anchor. Kneel on your hands and knees and grasp the loose end of the band with your right hand. Bring your arm upward and back so your elbow is next to your side and your upper arm is parallel with the floor. Straighten your arm by pulling the band backwards while keeping your upper arm steady. Release the band by bending your elbow until your arm is at a 90-degree angle. Do ten repetitions on the right side and then switch to the opposite side to complete the exercise.
5. Lat Pulldowns—this exercise mimics a pulldown exercise on a machine with a bar. Anchor your band by looping it around a secure anchor that is placed above your head. You should be able to fully extend your arms above you and have tension on the band. If you don’t, either step backward until you do or perform the exercise while seated or kneeling. Grasp the band with both hands and pull down and back. Picture trying to touch your elbows behind your back (even though you won’t be able to). Return to the start by straightening your arms and stretching your lats to repeat.
6. Stability Ball Knee-Ins—start with your hands on the floor in front of you with your arms straight, palms down, and your feet on the ball behind you. Bend your knees and bring them toward your chest while using your core for power and balance. Straighten your legs to roll the ball back out and repeat.
7. Shoulder Raises (Front and Side)—this exercise will be done both to the front and to the side. Just like you did with the biceps curl, stand with your feet in the middle of the band. Grasp each end of the band in your hands and with your arms straight, raise your arms until they are parallel with the floor in front of you. Lower to start and then lift again except this time out to your sides until your arms are at shoulder height. Return to the start and repeat.
8. Calf Raises—face the back of a chair or place your hands on the wall in front of you. Lift yourself to stand on your toes for a count of 10 and then lower. You can make this harder by stepping on a band with your toes and grasping both ends of the band with your hands to increase the resistance as you use your calves to lift and lower your body. You can also use a board to place under your toes, so you get a greater stretch at the bottom of the exercise.
9. Wall Squats with Ball—place a stability ball between your back and the wall. With your hands on your hips, press your back against the ball and bend at the knees to lower your body until you are in a “seated” position with your knees over your ankles. Pause and roll the ball back up the wall by pushing through your heels until you are in a standing position again. Repeat.
How to Build Muscles Without Weights: Recap
You may need some extra discipline to really push your muscles to perform and grow, but it is absolutely possible to gain muscle size and strength in your home gym… er, living room, rec room, or wherever you can fit in a workout. All you need to do is turn on some tunes, get warmed up, and get your muscle-building workout on. You’ve got this!