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The Secrets of How to Build Muscle Without Weights - Useful Exercises

Updated on November 3, 2013

In order to build muscle without weights you have to work out using other forms of resistance or intensify your aerobic workouts. The types of workouts that achieve a good level of fitness without adding various machines or equipment to buy can be intense, but they are designed to burn fat and work your various muscle groups. This type of exercise should result in a more natural-looking and nicely toned physique. The desire to build muscle without weights is usually a result of your wanting to get into better shape, but not having the money or space to equip a home gym. Also, you may not have the time or don't live close enough to a gym or fitness center with the types of facilities to assist you in your quest. Many fitness coaches and doctors even recommend against heavy use of weights for building muscle as the risk of injury is greater for some people.

It is not as hard as you think to look like this and build muscle without weights.
It is not as hard as you think to look like this and build muscle without weights.

So, if you are going to build muscle without weights, what do you use? The easiest and most commonly used techniques are exercises that depend on body weight for resistance. You must have some sort of resistance to build muscle, it is how our physiology works. To oversimplify, while working out muscles intensely you are actually causing damage to the muscle fibers on a microscopic level. When the body repairs this damage you end up with stronger muscle and often larger size. Now, the size increase is caused by increased blood flow as well. In fact, body builders often use less weight and more repetitions when working out with weights so they get "pumped up". If you have ever spent any time at a weight machine or doing other specific resistance exercises and taken a look at your body while you are still heated up, you may have noticed that you looked a little bigger. This is usually more prominent in the male physique, but women will experience this as well.

Exercises That Build Muscle Without Weights

Let's look at some techniques and specific exercises that will help you to build muscle without weights, shall we?

Push ups are probably the easiest and most versatile type of exercise for most people to learn and try. They work out a range of muscle groups in your chest, shoulders, arms, and even the back. The basic push up is done by getting on your stomach on the floor with your feet and hands about shoulder width apart and supporting your body weight with your hands and your toes. Proper form dictates that you raise your butt up slightly as well to keep your back straight. You do as many repetitions or "reps" as you can handle. The great thing about push ups is the ability to change them up to target slightly different muscle groups. For instance, if you bring in two blocks or raised platforms roughly a foot high that you can place your hands on for support while doing the push up routine with your feet touching the floor still, you will shift the muscles you are working out slightly. Try placing the palms of your hands side by side rather than shoulder width apart. It makes the push up considerably more difficult. If you're really adventurous, you can try one-armed push ups, but it's not for the faint of heart...or strength.

Doorway pull up bar
Doorway pull up bar

Another easy exercise is the pull up or chin up.  This body weight exercise is working out muscle groups in your back and arms.  To do this may require a bar or some other thing that you can hold onto while pulling yourself up with your arms.  I have a doorway bar that I use for this, and it can be moved around easily.  Again, as with push ups, by varying the technique you use or the range of motion you can target different groups of muscles.  You can even work your way up to one-armed pull ups when you are ready to really intensify your workout.

Another method for the dip exercise.
Another method for the dip exercise.

Dips are a good workout for your arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles.  This simple exercise can be done by pulling two sturdy pieces of furniture together (a workout in itself), and placing your hands one on either side and, with your legs folded to keep from touching the floor, lowering and raising yourself between your two supports.  You may also use two chairs, but be aware of the potential danger from some types of chairs if your weight causes them to shift and pull together on you while you are suspended.  This could result in a nasty injury, so be careful.

Squats and lunges are good for your lower body workout and mostly target the muscle groups in your legs.  To do a squat put your hands behind your head and bend through your knees. Keep your heels flat on the floor, push your knees out, look forward and squeeze your gluteus maximus (glutes for short) also known as your butt on the way up.  If you have trouble doing squats lower than your thighs parallel with the floor you should work on stretching out your hamstrings more often.  Lunges are done by placing your hands on your hips and stepping forward with one foot while keeping your rear foot in place.  You want to lower yourself with the step until your thigh is close to parallel with the floor, and then pull yourself back into standing position.  Do several repetitions with each leg, even alternate to keep things interesting.

Other forms of exercises that will help you build muscle without weights are called isometric.  This is essentially working the muscle with static resistance.  In other words no movement.  The easiest form of this type of exercise involves pushing on something immobile like a wall.  Your muscles work, but nothing moves.  This is still building strength, and can be effective with the right types of exercises targeting specific muscle groups.

Finally, no discussion about building muscle without weights, or any other physical fitness for that matter, is complete without at least mentioning proper diet.  Most think that you should simply eat less, and diet as though you were just trying to lose weight.  This is only partially true, and if you are working out at a high level multiple times per week or even per day, your diet will be different.  You might need to consume more calories to provide the energy you need.  Proper diet consists of items that are lower in fat and higher in protein.  You also need a proper balance with carbohydrates, since this is what your body converts into energy for your muscles.

There is zero chance you will look like this guy without weights, but I'm sure most of you are okay with that anyway.
There is zero chance you will look like this guy without weights, but I'm sure most of you are okay with that anyway.

Best of luck on your resolution to get yourself into shape, and I'm sure these tips will assist in the goal to burn fat and build muscle.


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    • profile image

      DoveFreexrolo 21 months ago

      I have read so many content on the topic of the blogger lovers but this post is actually a nice post, keep it up.

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      DoveFreexrolo 22 months ago

      Joy and happiness is a really scent you cannot strain over some whilst not having applying for a a small amount of lowers over your own self.

    • profile image

      DoveFreexrolo 23 months ago

      genuinely a exceptional post. Il undoubtedly be examining this weblog a lot more.

    • Alfin Loencontre profile image

      Alfin Loencontre 4 years ago

      Jeje Very good article, but for sure in the last picture did not develop these muscles without going to the Gym.

    • profile image

      Johnuno11 4 years ago

      Nice exercise choice, I have benefited from doing these exercises in this article. I also read another article @ where I found that adding pushups to my workouts is very beneficial.

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Great I was looking for a hub of this type...

    • profile image

      iamzakaria 5 years ago

      I like this program! Thanks for reminding people that they can train without going to the gym and still build muslce. I have friends that train at the gym who have to travel for their jobs. This workout will give them something to do in place of their regular resistance training routines when travelling...


    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 6 years ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      Great article, wow that last picture almost looks like its not real. Those are some huge muscles. Glad to see that we share the same passions when it comes to fitness and building muscle. Feel free to check out some of my fitness articles too.

    • X-Con profile image

      X-Con 6 years ago from The Free World!

      I used to think that building muscle without weights was impossible before watching this:

    • kjrzeek1 profile image

      kjrzeek1 6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      I used to think that people like Herschel Walker could never look the way they did only doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, and dips, until I tried the navy seal workout. After doing that workout I quickly changed the way I work out. Thanks for the post.

    • profile image

      Shirley 6 years ago

      Im trying to gain weight but can't get to or afford to go to a gym. Are these exercises good to help gaining weight or would it cause me to lose more. I don't need to lose more weight

    • profile image

      MaiVox 6 years ago

      GREAT info! Due to Lupus, I'm riddled with arthritis, so I swear by isometrics. Variations of planks and wall sits along with Pilates brought my body fat percentage down from 58% to 24%. These are an awesome set of exercises almost anyone can do! Voted Up!!

    • MosLadder profile image

      Chris Montgomery 6 years ago from Irvine, CA

      Good exercise choices! Those have been my go-to choices for years. Voted up.

    • KBEvolve profile image

      Kenneth Brown 6 years ago from United States

      It hadn't occurred to me to use a chair for dips, so thanks for the idea.

    • profile image

      jameson 6 years ago

      this helped so much i cant believe it

    • profile image

      naturalsolutions 6 years ago

      Yes I don't want to look like that big man above. It is over and it doesn't look good. The perfect body is not like that one.

      Thanks for teaching us a great tips. So true and very helpful.

    • profile image

      Get Rid Of Stomach Rolls 6 years ago

      You have a lot of great tips here to build muscle. I find chin ups and push ups work great for me. Great info here!

    • 7hands profile image

      7hands 6 years ago from Australia

      calisthenics are a great alternative to traditional weight training. Thanks for this great hub.

    • profile image

      slawson 6 years ago

      Man... this really got me into shape.. i have been sick with swine flu for 2 weeks...i got really chubby.. this got me my rock hard abs back

    • dusy7969 profile image

      dusy7969 7 years ago from San Diego, California

      nice search. it really potential and greate way of building muscles

    • st lucia for sale profile image

      st lucia for sale 7 years ago from St Lucia

      I really do swear by wide grip pullups. Increased back size extremely quickly.

    • profile image

      Stuart 7 years ago

      Great article, I also read another really good article that had some really good tips for building muscle. A lot of the tips are related to bodybuilding nutrition though. Nevertheless its a great article that I think a lot of people will find helpful.

    • Malcolm_Cox profile image

      Malcolm_Cox 7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      That guy in the last photo is gross! Great hub. Time to get moving I think

    • profile image

      User  7 years ago

      Helpful info.. Thanks!

    • fadibody profile image

      fadibody 7 years ago

      Great hub! This reminds us of the importance of health. Thanks for sharing the info!

    • profile image

      abeE1 7 years ago

      WOW! Great Article describing the various exercises that one can partake in to get the better looking body!

      After reading this great article you might be interested in seeing

      It will explain some supplements to help in your journey for muscle

    • givingfairy profile image

      givingfairy 7 years ago from some place in the Big Apple

      I love muscle building but its the time. This hub however is extremely helpful as these exercises can be done anywhere. Great!

    • profile image

      Fitness Guru 7 years ago

      This was some really good advice. Learning how to build muscle without weights is especially important if you live in a small house and simply just don't have all the extra room for bulky equipment...or the extra money for a gym membership. Last year, I didn't need any of this stuff, as I had enough of a workout swinging an axe all summer.

    • Eugene Sung profile image

      Eugene Sung 7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Great article. I use many of these exercises when I'm away on travel and don't have access to a gym.

    • profile image

      Chetan Vaidya 7 years ago

      Thanks a lot buddy for your valueable inputs

    • profile image

      khmohsin 7 years ago

      Great Hub,

      Its really a nice topic you have discussed here. Most of us just go for Gym to build up the muscles. But I think the natural exercises are the best for one's health and fitness.

      Thanks for sharing your great ideas and thoughts. Keep it up. I really appreciate it.


    • profile image

      Frank Sanello 7 years ago

      Whether or not Greg Valentino, the bodybuilder in this article with preposterous biceps, uses steroids, nobody, including Greg Valentino looks like...Greg Valentino.

      His photo has been Adobe Photoshopped into unrecognizability. Some bodybuilders are so obsessive they can never get big enough, no matter how many steroids they use or abuse.

      But they still don't feel big enough, so they resort to photoshopping their pics, which fool almost no one.

      Frank Sanello

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 7 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      Great advice and I can see that others have recommended yoga, which is such a wonderful and powerful workout if done while holding a pose. I use 2.5 pound weights while stretching in yoga positions. The other wonderful aspect of yoga is that it teaches you to understand how each muscle group feels in the body, and of course it is good for the libido to.

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      Mel - Weight Loss 7 years ago

      Hi I'm doing research on some diet programs I could use or at best find ideas from. Thanks for this.

    • fundamentallife profile image

      fundamentallife 7 years ago

      Great article my friend, but I'm sticking to the gym! Well, apart from morning stretches - I feel better all day, just because I stretch as soon as I wake!

      Great work, thank you for posting.

      'Up and awesome!'


    • profile image

      Power Tower 7 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this article and it is so true, about the many different ways to build muscle without weights. Besides good ol' physical labor and a few methods you mentioned above, I'd recommend using the "Power Tower" for upper body fitness. Thanks...

    • snagerries profile image

      snagerries 7 years ago from Singapore

      I built a good body when I was very young with very hard varied physical labour, and it has stuck with me very well so far.

      I have used weights but working seems to develop a wider range of muscles and more actual strength. I found I am stronger, especially hands, arms, shoulders and legs than people who are much bigger physically. I reckon whatever exercises you do don't neglect the smaller muscles.

    • profile image

      yogi 7 years ago

      One more nice addition to work out your chest/shoulders is the parallel bar that you find in your neighbourhood park. ts a complete workout for the 2 biggest upper muscles .

    • Just Jay Today profile image

      Just Jay Today 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Not only are these body weight exercises great, but they are also some of the most challenging. I'll be working on actual pull ups this month! Hey how many can you do?

    • drcrischasse profile image

      drcrischasse 7 years ago from NH/Foxboro

      Great informative hub

    • st lucia for sale profile image

      st lucia for sale 7 years ago from St Lucia

      Bodyweight exercise is the perfect solution to those not wanting the commitment of a gym membership.

      Pushups, pull ups and chin ups are a full upper body workout!

    • gidtset profile image

      gidtset 7 years ago

      Great Hub.

      It got me inspired to start training again. Thanks!

    • edguider profile image

      edguider 7 years ago

      Nice, love hubs like this. The ones that do not require going to the gym. Going to get on of those push up bars for my closet and do dead lifts :)

    • ruel acaso profile image

      ruel acaso 7 years ago

      Wow! it would be great help for me finding this staff. lately im more focusing on weights, but now! I'll try what you do so... Nice HUB....

    • profile image

      Webuka 7 years ago

      Great post here my dear,anyway am preparing a powerful article here on chest muscle growth.

    • profile image

      Martin Saint 7 years ago

      Japanese people live longer and they are the slowest moving people I know and they prefer smaller portions too. Ofcourse many other parameters these. I wonder how these, eating more and then burning it up to to create muscle and huge amounts of free radicals helping your DNA. I think we all should eat less and avoid vigorus workouts. I would rather live 120 years then looking like arnold or stallone at my fifties. Just a thought.

    • jeya1230 profile image

      jeya1230 7 years ago from Philippines

      I like your hub it will help me a lot on my fitness goal.

    • Dmian profile image

      Dmian 7 years ago

      Good information, I recently started going to the gym but I used to do most of the exercises you recommend before I could afford it, but as you said a proper diet is a necessity. I had a different problem tho i struggle to gain weight.

    • profile image

      Haseeb 7 years ago

      Very informative hub! People need to understand that nutrition is so important in building muscle. Once you've got that nailed down the rest is so much easier. Try Building Muscle will be as easy as 1 2 3 after reading blog

    • DarrinP profile image

      DarrinP 7 years ago

      Good stuff, Jeffrey! Hadn't really considered a weight-training program without weights, but, hey, it apparently works great! Will have to give it a try! Thanks!

      To see the bio-physical processes that make muscles grow, visit .

    • gmbunn profile image

      gmbunn 7 years ago from England

      Very informative hub! People need to understand that nutrition is so important in building muscle. Once you've got that nailed down the rest is so much easier. Try for more info on bodybuilding supplements once you're ready for them.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Very informative! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Puerto Escondido  8 years ago

      For me I have to go to the gym straight after work. If i go home first it's onto the couch. Great excercises though, but I prefer the sound of weights.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      @KenWu, good luck and thanks for reading!

      @lender, yes, I am behind on my workouts as well. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

      @Robert, that is a good point...maybe a future hub, eh? ;)

      @maxx2010, excellent idea! I will get to work on it! Thanks for checking me out!

      @NNazir, I saw the story about him on the TLC cable station and you are right about him. I couldn't resist adding the photo since it is so unnatural-looking. Thanks for reading!

    • NNazir profile image

      Nauman Nazir 8 years ago from Pakistan

      The man with huge biceps is Greg Valentino

      And correction!

      You can NEVER look like that man even if u lift 1000 lbs of weight UNTIL you take STEROIDS

      Greg Valentino has admitted he'd been using & selling steroids. watch the man with torn biceps on the site that says 'broadcast yourself'

    • maxx2010 profile image

      maxx2010 8 years ago

      hey could you add some videos? it would be better !!


    • profile image

      Robert 8 years ago

      Good tips and I'll start right away. Only problem is that I (as a man) always prefer the "before" photos of women and not the "after" pics. Guess I'm into body fat on women.

    • lender3212000 profile image

      lender3212000 8 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

      That's what I should be doing right about now!

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 8 years ago from Malaysia

      I never thought that building muscle could be done at home without training equipments. Now I know... would give it a try.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      parrster, that is some very good advice. It's always best to start out easy and work your way up to things and a chat with the doc about your proposed exercise regimen could also prove helpful. I do believe, though, that avoiding weight training, at least initially, could prevent injuries that might otherwise occur. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Craig, thanks for that! The hardest part is definitely getting started. So do you walk to the LA fitness now? Maybe you jog. ;)

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 8 years ago from Australia

      Now in my forties, the only addition I would make to your great article is: the further youth falls behind you, take greater care when exercising; torn muscles and tendons become a likelier prospect with age, and nothing deters you from further exercise like the pain of a torn ligament. At least, that's been my experience.

    • craig91765 profile image

      craig91765 8 years ago

      Great article! I started walking around my house everyday because LA Fitness is over 3 miles away. It wasn't until I started doing push-ups and swinging a kettlebell that losing weight became a lot easier

    • profile image

      Moses 8 years ago

      Very good article. I do not want to be like that guy above, but a little tone is enough.


    • profile image

      Christine 8 years ago

      Thanks for reassuring me I'm on the right track. I'm middle-aged, with a dodgy back, but I try to keep strong and agile.

      I do resistence exercises with a stretch band and a beach-type ball. I also do a lot of leg, arm and back muscle work in the swimming pool, suspended from a flotation device. I don't think I'll ever be slim again, but I'll be happy if I can pack it neater and keep strong and agile.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for checking out my hub Marty!

    • martycraigs profile image

      martycraigs 8 years ago

      Of course, there are a lot of factors that come into play when you're trying to build muscle (body type, diet, exercise, etc.). But there are definitely various ways to work out with necessarily lifting weights.

      A great reference for someone looking to build muscle, start up a new, or add to an existing workout routine.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you GmaGoldie! Glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great Hub! Loved the last photo - you made me laugh out loud!

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      The gadgets and gizmos can be useful, at least some of them can be. The body weight exercises are just easy for someone to do, and gives them less excuse not to do a workout every other day. Hope you enjoyed the hub, and thanks for reading!

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 8 years ago from england

      "Tut!" I bought all the gadgets and gizmos, wish I'd read this first!!

      Thanks. I can save myself a pretty penny!

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      @pinkhawk, my wife is one of skinny genetics, but she doesn't work out. She can still kick my but, though. ;)

      @Grant's World, isn't it nice to be able to build muscle without weights or any other expensive things? Thanks for stopping by!

    • Grant's World profile image

      Grant Handford 8 years ago from Canada

      This is a great article reminding us that you don't need a fancy gym or equipment to workout. good job.


    • pinkhawk profile image

      pinkhawk 8 years ago from Pearl of the Orient

      ... this is cool, we can try this at home!.. Is there any special program for women esp with skinny genetics? :) thank you very much! :)

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks for stopping by earnest! I personally feel that whatever way is easiest for someone is better than not working out at all. Weights definitely have some advantages over other types of exercise, though. And, I agree with you about balancing the focus instead of just trying to build big biceps and triceps, the rest of the muscle groups are just as important.

    • earnestshub profile image

      earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I built a good body when I was very young with very hard varied physical labour, and it has stuck with me very well so far.

      I have used weights but working seems to develop a wider range of muscles and more actual strength. I found I am stronger, especially hands, arms, shoulders and legs than people who are much bigger physically. I reckon whatever exercises you do don't neglect the smaller muscles.

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Gregg, I agree. Body weight exercises are the best and easiest for most people to build a routine around. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Gregg Biancci profile image

      Gregg Biancci 8 years ago from The Dancefloor

      Body weight exercises are amazing! I focus almost all of my workouts around them! I really like one leg squats, they add so much balance and power to your legs!

      ps. Greg Valentino is a freak! 28 inch arms!

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Oh, I'm sorry to hear that! I have a big one, but he isn't mean. He'll barely chase me if I try to get him to, but that's because he's old, I guess.

    • profile image

      TattoGuy 8 years ago

      I had a big dog, only thing is she left me last year lol !

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you, liswilliams! Yes, it is not easy or affordable for me to get to the gym right now, so I will be spending some time in the floor or hanging from doorframes doing exercises to get back into shape, lol.

    • liswilliams profile image

      liswilliams 8 years ago from South Africa

      forgot about these, thanks for the reminder, beats going to gym, great hub

    • Jeffrey Neal profile image

      Jeffrey Neal 8 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Art! I actually need to get back into the swing of things a bit as I'm not as active as I'd like. Want to start running, but first I need to find a big, mean dog to chase better motivation than that, huh? ;)

    • profile image

      TattoGuy 8 years ago

      Jeeez I broke into a sweat just looking at the photos, cycling and swimming works for me, great hub though !