How to Build Muscle Without the Gym

You might not be able to go to the gym for a while, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your fitness. Gyms aren't required, they just offer motivation in the form of having company and having to pay for something. But for those of us who are pros at self-motivation, we don't need them to get fit. And for those who need a little help in the motivation department, we can build in self-motivation without the need to go anywhere. Let's look at both, below.

Getting Fit at Home

Home can be the place we love most in the world. But a gym it's not. Step one: move your body. The WHO recommends healthy adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of the two. A great way to do this is to use some of the tried and true skills we picked up along the way. Seriously. Bodyweight workouts are fantastic for building muscle. The classics really do work.

Planks, squats and chair dips are great muscle-building moves practically made for a tiny space. Pushups and burpees are also good for building strength.

Not sure how to do a burpee?

  • Stand, arms dangling, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend the knees, lowering to a squat, raise the arms to a "stop" position.
  • Place palms on the floor as close to the toes as possible.
  • Hop feet back so that you’re in a straight-armed plank position.
  • Perform a push-up and return to the straight-armed plank position.
  • Hold a moment.
  • Hop the feet back up to the hands.
  • As you come up, raise your arms above your head, reach high, and jump into the air.
  • Drop into the next rep.

Switch up planks with dips and knee taps. Women’s Health also recommends side planks, leg/arm raises and stretches. Integrate light weights and/or a stability ball, if you have them on hand. Try jumping jacks. Jumprope if you have one (or you can order one inexpensively) and don't' underestimate the value of any of these. Planks and pushups are genuine muscle builders.

Get Creative to Get Fit at Home

No weightlifting equipment at home? No problem! You’ve got all you need to intensify your workout right where you are. Here are a few ideas to help with improvisation:

  • Turn a broom into a barbell. It might not be a lot of weight, but it can add some extra resistance to other exercises. Tie cans or buckets of water to the ends for a genuinely tough curl.
  • Use gallon water jugs as free weights. One US gallon weighs 8.34 pounds. Curl with them, and try tricep curls, too.
  • Need something smaller and lighter for dumbbells? Try large soup cans or soda bottles. Or rocks from the yard can work, too.
  • Need something a little heavier? Fill empty gallon jugs with sand or loose dirt to create weights that are closer to 12.7-pounds.

Remember that Crossfit was built on the philosophy that real movement builds muscle as well as or better than machinery. Work with what's on hand. What else do you have lying around your home that could double as a piece of exercise equipment? Flip a tire? Run sprints up and down your street? Pick up and put down one end of the sofa ten times. Just be mindful of your back and using good form to prevent injury.

Find an Online Fitness Program

There are tons of fitness programs available online, just waiting to be discovered. No matter what kind of exercise you’re into, you can find a routine or series that suits your workout needs. Need some direction?

Give one of these programs a try:

  • Yoga With Adriene is perfect for beginners, and she has a wide variety of body-strengthening workouts.
  • The 30-Day HIIT Challenge will push you and your muscles to their limits.
  • This 40-minute Pilates workout will strengthen your core.
  • Trainer Dana Landgren offers several strengthening workout moves on Instagram.

Looking for something different? Search YouTube for a fitness routine that’s more up your alley. You might find your new favorite workout. From dance to walking at home there's something for everyone.

Finding Motivation to Get Fit

The truth is that getting fit and staying fit is hard for most everyone. Motivation may start out strong when you're laying in bed, feeling crappy and wanting to do better but a few days in, that 6 am alarm and the desire for chips starts to erode even the best of intentions.

Here are some motivation tips:

  • Hook the new habit to an old habit. Have a morning coffee habit? Start your workout habit by telling yourself that you have to do it before you an have your morning coffee.
  • Write a list of your reasons for getting fit and post it where you'll see it every day (the bathroom mirror is good).
  • Keep a fitness journal that tracks progress and lets you see how far you've come.
  • Try a weight-loss betting app, they seem to really work.

Limits on time and space can seem like it'll make staying fit difficult, but it’s just not the case. Get creative. Using your body weight and household items to maximize your efforts can pay off in just a few months. Whether it's introversion, lack of funds, or social distancing that has you pursuing an in-home workout, there's no more convenient way to get and stay healthy than doing it right where you live.

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6/24/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
Wellness Exists to Empower Health Conscious Consumers. helps people live healthier, happier and more successful lives by connecting them with the best health, wellness and lifestyle information and resources on the web.
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Such a wonderfully written post! I love how in-depth it was, and you quite literally covered all your bases. I read your blog and i found it very interesting and useful blog for me. I hope you will post more like this, i am very thankful to you for these type of post.
Posted by radhaaariv
After having surgery for Cancer this past July. The bladder & rt. kidney were removed leaving me with an ostomy. Are there any exercises I can do to help gain my strength back?
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