Can you build muscle without weights? Yes, it’s possible, and in significant quantities. Read all about it in this article on exercises without weights.
It’s common knowledge that lifting weights helps to gain muscle. It’s undeniable. However, you don’t always have access to an equipped gym or the facility to buy weights and dumbbells to train at home.
If you set out to build muscle, it’s important to know that you have some other alternative means to do so.
One of the guidelines to follow consists of performing functional exercises without weights; as well as other techniques to gain volume, strength and endurance.
How to gain muscle without lifting weights
You should be aware that the process of gaining muscle without lifting weights is likely to be slower and not allow you to get as far.
IT consists of increasing the demand of physical training as you progress and achieve your goals.
This involves doing more of what you were doing regularly, to create more tension in the muscles and achieve the desired growth.
Your body is a natural weight and you can use it to build endurance by performing functional exercises, which allow you to work different muscle groups rather than isolated muscles.
Exercises to gain muscle without weights
Here are some of the exercises that will allow you to gain muscle, without using any equipment.
Squats and Bulgarian Squats
With squats you work your legs at the quadriceps level, the abdomen, because it is involved in the movement, the hamstrings, and the glutes, which are among the most favoured muscles when performed consistently.
They’re performed completing the following postures.
- Stand firm, with your back straight.
- Legs shoulder-width apart.
- Then bend your knees and lower yourself to an angle of about 90º, keeping your back straight without leaning too far forward.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.
They allow you to work the lower body.
The quadriceps, gluteus and abdomen are the main muscles favoured when performing this exercise.
To execute the lunges you need to:
- Stand upright with the body straight.
- Take a step forward, taking care not to make too wide a stride.
- The other leg remains steady, then you bend and lower it.
- Return to the starting position, keeping your back straight and your gaze straight ahead.
This exercise helps you to achieve a perfectly defined abdomen, as long as you don’t have a percentage of fat that prevents us from seeing what’s hidden underneath that area.
It’s important to use a blanket or mat for cushioning, do not lie directly on the floor.
To perform a sit-up you need to:
- Lie down, with your legs bent and your arms behind your neck, but without putting pressure on your neck – the neck simply supports your head, otherwise it should be as relaxed as possible.
- You lift the core until bent.
- The arms serve as a boost to lift you up in case you can’t at the start.
- Return to the starting position.
For this exercise, you’ll need a chair or a surface you can lean on.
You will work arms, both biceps and triceps, and your shoulders, although if you lean forward on parallel bars we would have another aspect more focused on the pectoral.
How to perform a dip:
- Place your back to the object you’re going to lean on with the palms of your hand.
- You should have your legs straight and your heel on the floor.
- You then bend your elbow and perform the up and down movement.
Your glutes shouldn’t touch the ground, try to keep the tension at all times, and your back should always be straight.
Push-ups work your biceps, triceps, chest and abdominal area.
You already know how to do arm exercises without weights!
The correct way to do this is as follows:
- Lie face down on the floor.
- Rest your palms on the ground as wide as you can, forming a 90º angle at the elbows, and with your legs straight, holding yourself up on the tips of your toes.
- If you can’t at first, you could also do them with your legs bent at the knees.
- You then bend your elbows up and down, focusing the tip of your nose on the ground.
This an excellent exercise for developing and strengthening your legs, and if you do it with enough intensity you can do cardiovascular exercise at the same time.
We recommend doing it for more than 5-10 minutes, at a steady pace.
You can use a step or a box, that isn’t too high but sturdy.
Step or climbing up and down a crate or other elevated surface.
You can think of the exercise as a glute kick or as a move using a leg extension machine, both are good ideas.
You’ll be working your glutes and calves.
The way to perform this exercise is as follows:
- Lying on the floor or on your knees and hands supported with your arms straight.
- Pull one of your legs backwards, until stretching as far as it will go.
- Then you raise it slightly, sort of kicking something you can’t quite reach.
It consists of jumping over a box forward, although you can do it with other types of elements, using your body as the impulse.
It is one of the best exercises for leg development
It’s hugely important here that you cushion the fall well so as not to hit hard and thus damage the joints.
Other tips for building muscle without weights
It’s important to note that building muscle without the use of weights is a slower process, requiring more effort and time.
To see the desired results, here are a few tips.
Increase your number of repetitions.
You can make further progress towards your goal by increasing the number of repetitions per set to maximise muscle development.
Breaks between sets
Shorten your rest times.
By reducing rest times between sets, you can do more reps in the same amount of training time; promoting more metabolic stress.
What diet should I follow?
The foods and amounts that should be included in a diet to increase muscle mass vary according to the intensity of physical activity, height, sex, weight, and age of each person.
In this regard, it’s advisable to consult a nutritionist for an individualised calculation.
This diet should include strategies such as those described below:
- Consuming more calories than you expend daily: this is necessary as the extra calories, along with workouts, will benefit muscle growth.
- Increase protein intake as necessary: It’s important to eat foods, mainly of animal origin, such as fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk and dairy products.
Protein is also found, albeit to a lesser extent, in vegetables such as spinach or lentils, peas and chickpeas.
- Consume good fats: present in nuts such as: peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds. It’s also in olive oil, avocado, salmon, chia and sunflower seeds
- Eat fruit: to provide the body with vitamins and minerals that promote muscle recovery after workouts.
- “Anatomía y musculación sin aparatos” Guillermo Seijas, Mireia Asensio and Viktoria Kohalmi. 2019.
- “Guía de entrenamiento con ejercicios de peso corporal” Mike Fisher. 2016
- “Manual de ejercicio con peso corporal” Lotus Publishing and Ashley Kalym 2014. (Adaptación del 2016)
- “Personal contributions”
- If you want to do biceps exercises without weights at home, along with many others, we have this training routine with almost no equipment for you.