5 exercises you can do at home without any equipment

You don't think it's possible to build muscle at home without using any equipment? Read more to prove yourself wrong!

September 09, 2019
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5 exercises you can do at home without any equipment

By: Daniel Cuda (IG: @dancudes)

Going to the gym might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Most are expensive, some are a bit of a distance away from your home, and for whatever reason, some people don’t put on deodorant.

On the other hand, there is this misconception that you can’t gain muscle, gain strength, or even get fit and lean with your own body in your own home.

This is a massive misconception. Simply put, as long as there is gravity in your home - you can make some serious gains. And gravity happens to be a very easy thing to find. Keep reading to find out how to build muscle without the gym!

Build muscle at home

Ripped shirtless man in a training shorts, standing in an apartment livingroom, decorated in white and grey. He holds cellphone in his right hand, looking at the screen.

The key to home muscle building is something called progressive overload. Simply put, this means making the exercise, and the workout, harder each time. This provides the body, mainly the muscles being worked, with a stimulus it's not used to and forces the body to adapt

The adaptations we are looking for are hypertrophy (increase in size of a muscle through a growth in the size of its component cells) and strength gains, and they come from training specifically for them. This means you either have to add volume (number of reps x number of sets) or intensity (i.e., the load being lifted or moved) in the exercise.

Some of the ways to do this include:

  • Increasing the number of repetitions

  • Increasing the amount of load/weight being moved

  • Changing hand and feet positioning to manipulate leverage and create more tension for the muscles working (e.g., think of the difference between wide push ups and regular push ups)

  • Decreasing the amount of rest between sets. 

Therefore, as long as you can overload an exercise, it does not matter if you do it in the comfort of your own home or in the gym, you can build muscle and strength.

Put it this way: your body doesn’t know the difference between a dumbbell, barbell, machine, or your own body. All it knows is the amount of tension being put on a muscle and how long that tension is being put on that muscle (TUT - Time Under Tension).

It's time to debunk the myth that you can't get bigger, leaner, and stronger in your own home. Here are 5 exercises you can do at home to start building some lean muscles and get ripped! And keep in mind you can find all these exercises inside the Madbarz app!

1. Chair/Bench Dips

Ripped guy in a training shorts and sneakers, in a living room. He is facing backwards to a wooden bench. His palms are placed on a bench and his elbows  bent on 90 degree angle, so his upper arms are parallel to the floor. His legs are straight and in front of him, only his heels touching the floor, legs almost parallel to the floor. Exercise he is doing is named chair dips.

Chair/bench dips are a great way to not only build strength for a parallel bar dip but, when done properly, can be a killer for your chest and triceps, mainly the latter.

  • Take a sturdy chair or bench and place your hands at the end of it. It is probably best to place the chair against a wall, couch, or some immovable object to ensure it does not slide back with each rep.

  • Walk your feet forward so that your torso is in front of the chair.

  • Slowly, and we are talking 3 to 5 seconds here, bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, keeping your shoulder blades retracted, and core braced the entire movement.

  • Pause for 1-2 seconds and then push yourself back until your elbows are fully extended once again, really focusing on using your triceps to push your way up and squeezing them at the top of the movement.

Seems simple right? Try it. Try it with that mind-to-muscle connection and with that control, doing 3-5 sets of 10-15 perfect reps with a slow tempo on the way down (the eccentric portion of the movement).

How to increase difficulty

If ordinary chair dips become easy, you can increase the difficulty by performing 1 ½ reps, which increases both tension and volume of the movement. This is how you do it:

  • Start in the top position of the dip, go down until your upper arms  are parallel to the floor.

  • Go halfway back up (arms should be about 45 degrees with the floor).

  • Go back down, so the upper arms are once again parallel to the floor.

  • Go back up fully. That is one rep.

Also, try decreasing the amount of time you rest between your sets, and even adding weight by literally getting a backpack, filling it with books, putting it on your lap and performing the movement.

2. Planks

Ripped man i a training shorts in a livingroom of the apartment decorated in white and grey. He is facing camera in a plank position - hiy body straight and parallel to the flor, his toes and forearms are touching the floor. Shoulder and arm muscles flexed.

Planks are easily the best core exercises. Planks train your core for one of its primary functions: to stabilize the spine. 

  • Start in a normal pushup position where your arms are locked out, your glutes are squeezed, your shoulders are over your hands, and your core is engaged.

  • Push yourself into a hollow position (glutes squeezed, core tight, your upper back pointing towards the sky as you protract your shoulders and giving yourself a posterior pelvic tilt. This not only increases core activation but also increases serratus anterior activation, which is a neglected muscle.

  • Stay there for 60 seconds.

How to increase difficulty

If this is too easy for you, try keeping the exact same position, but drop to your forearms as opposed to being on your hands. This is the most commonly used plank variation. However, if even this is too easy for you, you can make it even more difficult:

  • For an extra challenge, lift one leg in the air while keeping that position.

  • For a 2x extra challenge, add a bag of textbooks on your back.

  • Heck, for a 3x extra challenge, have the weighted bag and put one leg in the air all while maintaining that perfect position.

As you can see, progressively overloading the exercise is not much about knowledge as it is about creativity. Your core will be on fire and, given your diet is in check, you’ll be popping a six pack in no time.

3. Burpees

Ripped man in trainging shorts and sneakers, facing camera. He is in a yard of a big building, surrunded by a poles. The picture is taken in a mid air portion of a jump, his body fully extended, arms over head.

Burpees are one of those “love/hate” things. You love their benefits, but hate doing them. You love how much explosiveness you develop, but hate the burn you get. You love how many calories they can burn in a short period of time, but hate how sore your muscles are afterward.

However, burpees are easily one of the better exercises to do, when done properly with good form and no cheating. They build strength and mass in your upper body, mainly your chest and triceps. Also, they build explosive power, which is a neglected fitness component.

  • From a standing position, jump up vertically.

  • When you land, shoot your feet back and land in the top of a pushup position.

  • Perform a single pushup, shoot your legs to your hands, jump back up and repeat.

For some people, this can be a demanding exercise. You can make it easier by not doing the push up, or even easier by doing sprawls. When doing sprawls, you start from a standing position, shoot your legs out to a pushup position, and shoot them towards your hands and stand back up.

If burpees are too easy for you, you can make the exercise much more difficult by doing it all on one leg. If you dare.

4. Mountain climbers

Ripped man in a training shorts and sneakers on a playgroung, sorrounded by a trees. He is facing the floor, standing on his palms, hands fully extended. His left leg is extended behind him and his toes touching the floor. His righ leg is bent in the knee and his knee is reaching for the inside of his left elbow. The exercise he is doing is called the mountain climbers.

Mountain climbers are one of those exercises that work a ton of muscles all at once while also getting a nice little cardio workout. People have significantly much less hate for mountain climbers than they do for burpees, but do not mistake that for them being easy. When done right, they can be killer.

  • In a pushup position, bring your right knee to the inside of your right elbow, keeping your foot in the air (which should be right below your torso).

  • Feel the contraction of your core, specifically your rectus abdominis (the sixpack ab muscles) and quickly switch legs so that your right leg is now extended behind you, foot on the floor, and your left knee is brought to the inside of your left elbow. 

  • Feel the contraction and repeat.

Too many people rush this exercise and just move their knees without ever actually contracting their abs properly. There is no need to rush it, take your time, feel the burn, get it done the right way.

5. Push ups

Ripped man in an apartment livingroom, wearing trainging shorts. He is facing the floor, his palms and toes are on the floor, his body straight and parallel to the floor, his elbows bent. The exercise he is doing is called push up hold.

The favorite exercise of Madbarz community. The gym class exercise. Push ups have to be one of the best exercises there is, simply because of how many muscle groups are working when done properly and with perfect form. Make sure to check out these 5 push up rules you need to know to preform a perfect push up!

People think push ups are just a chest exercise, but they also work your shoulders, triceps, forearms, serrated anterior, and core. On top of that, there are many progressions of push ups that will continuously put muscle on your body as you develop the strength to do them.

And the best part is: you literally only need a floor and gravity. Again, gravity happens to be a very easy thing to find.

  • Refer back to the plank position described above where you put yourself in a hollow body (glutes squeezed, core tight, shoulders protracted and having a posterior pelvic tilt).

  • Next, retract your shoulder blades as you lower your body (3-5 second lowering) until your chest is just about to touch the floor.

  • Pause for 2 seconds, and then push yourself back up to that hollow body position.

When you get comfortable with doing 10-15 perfect reps of those, move to a more difficult progression while keeping that form.

If this is too hard for you, try doing push ups on your knees or incline push ups until you develop enough strength for regular push ups.

If this is too easy for you, try some variations, such as:

  • Diamond push ups

  • Wide push ups

  • Archer push ups

  • One arm push ups

Takeaway

You can easily workout at home and get crazy good workouts with minimal equipment. With most exercises, you simply need gravity, your bodyweight, and a great app to lead you along the way, such as Madbarz.

Madbarz Premium comes with 20+ workout plans created by professionals, requiring no equipment (or minimal equipment) to help you build muscle at home, using your bodyweight only.

Want to create your own workout? Check out Madbarz Workout Creator, with ever-growing exercise list of over 400 bodyweight exercises (with and without equipment). And with Madbarz Premium, you can save as many custom workouts as you like!

Build muscle at home, with no equipment, without expensive gym memberships, with Madbarz Premium.

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