Although it can make your sessions more challenging, if you’re creative and follow muscle-building principles, you can get buff while working out at home. Your muscles grow in size when they’re broken down with high-volume weight-training workouts and then given an adequate amount of time to heal. Muscle-building concepts remain the same whether or not you use weights, but you’ll likely have to do a higher number of reps to fatigue your muscles.
Workout Schedule and Volume
Although you won’t be lifting actual weights, your workouts still have to overload and break down your muscles if they’re going to be effective at building muscle. Because your muscles will need two days off to rest, do all upper-body exercises on Mondays and Thursdays and all lower-body exercises on Tuesdays and Fridays. This also gives you more time to focus on each muscle group. Do four to six sets of each exercise, completing each set to failure. Reaching failure means your muscles are so fatigued that you’re unable to complete another rep.
Be Creative with Resistance
Since you don’t have weights, you have to figure out how to provide a load for your muscles to lift so you can reach failure during each set. Some exercises, such as pushups and pullups, use your own body weight and that’s often adequate for fatiguing your muscles. When you’re doing lower-body exercises like squats, however, you’ll likely need to find something heavy to hold. For example, if you have a couple of empty paint cans, you can fill them with rocks.
Chest, Shoulder and Triceps Exercises
To work primarily your chest, but also your shoulders and triceps, incorporate an array of pushups into your workout. A wider hand position places more focus on the chest, while a narrower hand position will make your triceps and shoulders work harder. Place your feet atop an elevated surface like a step stool to increase difficulty. Another way to work your shoulders and triceps is to do bench dips on a coffee table. With your hands on the edge of the table and the feet of your extended legs atop a chair, bend and straighten your elbows to lower and raise your hips from the floor. If you have paint cans, hold them at your shoulders and extend them over your head in an at-home version of the shoulder press.
Build Your Back and Biceps
For your back and biceps, head out to a nearby park with a playground to do an array of pullup exercises. A wide grip on the bar is more challenging and focuses more on your back. Bring your hands in to shoulder-width to increase how much your biceps have to contribute. To really work your biceps, use a narrow grip and flip your hands around so your palms are facing you and perform a chinup. With filled paint cans, you can work your back and biceps with bent-over rows. Hold the cans and bend forward at the waist, then pull the cans up to your torso. Isolate your biceps by holding the cans down by your sides and then bending your elbows to bring your hands up to your shoulders.
Develop Your Lower Body
Develop all of the major muscles in your lower body with squats, lunges and deadlifts. You'll need to find some heavy objects to hold when performing these lower-body exercises. If you don’t have paint cans, you can also use sandbags, tires, big rocks, chairs or logs. Hold the objects at your shoulders as you do the exercises. Squats involve setting your feet at hip-width and then lowering your hips to the floor by bending your knees and pushing your hips back. For lunges, take a big step with one foot to get into a staggered position and then bend your lead knee to drop your back knee toward the floor. During deadlifts, you’ll hold the weighted implement in front of your thighs. With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend forward at the waist to lower the object toward your feet.