Want to put on some quality muscle but can’t hit the gym every day? If you have a body and a pair of dumbbells, you can totally build muscle at home. And even if you don’t have dumbbells on hand, you can still build strength and muscle mass with nothing more than your own body weight.
At Envision Fitness, our personal trainers are here to empower you to be the best and healthiest version of yourself, whether you can come in for regular training sessions or can only hit the gym once a week. We understand carving out gym time in your busy schedule isn’t always possible, but we also know that even a 20-minute home workout can help you make progress toward your fitness goals.
Below, we’ve put together a list of simple exercises that require little to no equipment, so you can get an effective muscle-building workout at home when you can’t hit the gym.
At-Home Exercise to Build Your Lower Body
If you’re brand-new to muscle-building workouts, starting off with your just your body weight is a great way to get your muscles and nervous system acclimated to new movement patterns. Once you perfect your form with just your body, only then should you add weight.
If you’re not new to the gym, you’ll probably want to use a couple of dumbbells or a resistance band to add a bit more challenge to the following at-home, lower-body exercises.
How to perform this movement: Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart and your toes level with each other. Initiate the movement by sitting your hips back as though you’re about to sit down in a chair. If possible, lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the ground. If you can’t get to parallel, go as low as you comfortably can.
Once you’ve reached the bottom-most portion of the movement, quickly reverse the motion to stand up straight and end in the position you started in. Be sure to keep your chest up, back straight, and your head and neck in a neutral position throughout the movement.
To give yourself a bit more challenge, you can hand onto a dumbbell in each hand while you perform this movement. Or, feel free to add a jump at the top of the squat, which will also make the movement more difficult.
Perform 12-15 reps and three sets of this movement. Give yourself 30-60 seconds of rest between sets.
How to perform this movement: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes level with each other. Initiate the movement by stepping a couple of feet forward with your right leg. Bend your non-working (left) leg as you lower your right glute toward the floor. Continue lowering your right glute toward the floor until your right thigh is parallel with the ground.
When you reach the bottom of the movement, drive through your right heel to lift yourself up and push your body forward into a lunge on your left leg. Perform 24 reps total (12 lunges on each leg) for three sets. Give yourself 30-60 seconds of rest between sets.
How to perform this movement: Place a chair, bench, or sturdy (ideally wood or super-dense foam) box in front of you to perform the step-up. Stand a few inches from your step and plant your right foot on the surface of the item you’re using.
As you plant your foot, drive through your heel to step up onto the box. Once you’re standing on the box with both feet, lower yourself back down keeping your right leg planted firmly on the box. Perform 12 reps with your right leg and immediately switch to your left leg, performing the same number of reps on that side. Completing lunges for both legs is one whole set. Perform three sets total.
How to perform this movement: Start by lying down on your back. Place the soles of your feet flat on the floor, making sure your heels are several inches from your tush. Initiate the movement by driving through your heels to lift your hips off the floor.
Keeping your back straight, continue lifting your hips as far as you can until the front of your legs, hips, and torso form a straight, diagonal line. Your upper back should not leave the floor during any portion of this movement.
To make the movement more challenging, place a dumbbell or two on the front of your pelvis to add extra resistance for your glutes and hamstrings. Perform 12-15 reps and three total sets. Give yourself about a minute of rest between each set.
At-Home Exercises to Build Your Upper Body
You don’t have to do a million dumbbell curls or even use a bench press to get a strong, toned upper body. The following exercises don’t require any equipment because there are several ways you can make them more challenging without the addition of weight.
How to perform this movement: Lie face down on the floor and place the palms of your hands on the floor, making sure they’re just slightly wider than your shoulders. Initiate the movement by pushing yourself up to lift your shoulders, chest, torso, and legs off the ground.
Continue pushing yourself upward until your arms are completely straight and only your hands and toes are touching the floor. Once you’ve reached the top of the pushup, reverse the movement by slowly lowering your entire body (all at the same time, keeping yourself in a straight line) until your chest almost touches the floor.
Perform 10-15 reps to complete one set, and perform three sets total. Give yourself one minute of rest between sets.
Make this movement more challenging by creating a diamond shape with your hands, where your forefingers and thumbs are touching to make a diamond. You can also perform one-armed pushups, decline pushups, or incline pushups to vary the intensity and work different portions of your chest, shoulders, and triceps.
How to perform this movement: Stand with the front of your body facing away from a chair or bench. Place both of your palms on the edge of the chair or bend and grab onto the edge with your fingers and thumbs. Extend your legs out in front of you until their straight and your heels are the only part of your feet touching the ground.
Slowly lower your upper body by flexing at your elbows until your upper and lower arm form a 90-degree angle. If you can’t get your arms to 90 degrees, lower yourself as far as you’re able to and as you get stronger, work on getting your upper body progressively lower.
When you’ve reached the bottom of the movement, push yourself up by driving your hands into the surface of the chair or bench. Continue pushing yourself upward until your arms are totally straight and you’re back in the starting position. To make this movement more challenging, elevate your feet by placing them on a chair or another bench. If you’d rather add weight, you can place a dumbbell in your lap for more resistance.
Perform 12-15 dips to complete one set, and perform three total sets. Give yourself 60 seconds of rest between sets.
For more gym-free workout ideas, check out How To Turn Walking Your Dog Into a Full-Body Workout and Training Tips for Your First 5K Race.
Ready to Take Your Health to New Heights? Get a Free Consultation at Envision Fitness
If you’re ready to change your life for the better, our team at Envision Fitness is ready to help you do it! We offer highly individualized personal training, athletic training, boot camps, weight loss classes, group exercise classes, and nutrition coaching at our Hopkins, MN gym. We’ve built a tight-knit community of supportive individuals who are all looking to better themselves, and we would love to welcome you to the family!
To learn more about our services or schedule a free consultation, give us a call today at 952-444-2791 or request a consultation online, and we’ll be in touch to get you scheduled.