The gym is closed and you don’t have access to squat racks, dumbbells, barbells, and heavy weights, or any of the normal muscle building equipment you need.
This means you’ll be doing your workouts at home, and this might scare you. The first thought might be “how in the heck am I going to do this?“
But don’t fear, I’m going to be giving you some tips on maintaining that hard-earned muscle so that when life does go back to normal, you won’t be starting over again.
If you’ve never done a home workout or bodyweight workout at home, it might surprise you to know it’s possible to build muscle at home with little to no equipment. There are numerous benefits to working out at home, and they’re easy to overlook.
I’ll tell you right now, you’ll need to get resourceful, but once you’ve set up your home gym and established some alternative weights, you’ll be able to work up a sweat and you’ll feel it the next day.
It is easy to fall into the trap of just doing cardio and no weight HIIT exercises. And I like these workouts, but if you’re trying to maintain any kind of muscle mass, you need to be doing resistance training.
So below are some tips and/or common mistakes people do when they first switch to an at-home workout.
Get Your MacGyver On
The first thing you need to do is establish what you can use for equipment and weights.
Don’t get distracted by what you don’t have, but get creative and consider what you have access to. Tables, benches, chairs, doors, empty milk jugs, etc…they all start to become part of your gym. If you have just a couple dumbbells or a workout band you can easily get started on building muscle.
Next, in an effort to get started on working out, don’t fall into the trap of overdoing it. Yes, you heard me, overdoing it. You will most likely be doing workouts that are strange to you, or never performed before. In this sense, it’s easy to lose focus of your form and you could end up hurting yourself.
Start slowly so you know just how these new exercises feel and how much is too much. It’s also easy to get discouraged when switching from a gym you know so well, and a routine you’re accustomed to… to working out at home. It might feel like you’re not getting the workout you’re used to getting.
Be patient with the new system and find your rhythm.
Mix it Up
Exercise variety will be your best friend when it comes to training at home. When you’re at the gym you don’t just do a chest press and squats…and call it good. You do a variety of exercises, targeting different muscles. The same principle will work at home. A variety of home exercises combined with varied tempo and varied rest time will work your muscles.
For example, at the gym, just angling your feet on the squat or leg extension can change the muscle receiving the stimulus. Carry this same principle to your home workouts. These small changes will lead to new muscle gains.
Setting Your Limits
At the gym, you probably know how much weight you can do and how many reps/sets you can do before you achieve failure. When you switch to a home workout, where the weights and exercises are different, you need to be careful about NOT setting limits.
For example, maybe you think you can do 3×25 bodyweight squats, but learn this is too much or not enough. Instead, train to failure or just shy to ensure that you are neither underserving or over-serving your abilities in your workouts.
Hit All The Muscles
Working out your arms, chest, shoulders, and legs are fairly easy with home workouts. Probably the most difficult muscle to train at home will be your back. If you have a pull-up bar, then that’s great, but for those that don’t, you need to train your back. Ignoring your back will lead to muscle imbalances and can lead to bad posture. If you have a workout band, there are several ways to hit your back.
The bottom line here is to train all the muscles just like you would at the gym.
Weight Resistance vs Cardio
I kind of mentioned this above, but if your goal is to maintain and build muscle, your focus should be on exercises the build muscle. Just going for a run or doing 20 minutes of jumping jacks and burpees will be a heck of a workout, but it won’t build much muscle mass.
Take that time and do pullups or grab some water jugs and do single leg pistol squats instead.
Stay in Rhythm
I’ve been going to the gym after work for years, and now that I’m on lockdown, I still do my workout in the evening. It’s just the rhythm that works for me. The key here is to keep doing a workout and not letting it fall to the wayside.
If you usually workout with a friend, keep each other accountable. Zoom and facetime are becoming great tools for staying connected. This should go for your workouts too. It will keep you on task and motivated.
Designate Your Gym
If you think you might be doing your workouts from home on a more consistent basis, you need to establish your territory. And don’t do it in your living room either if you can avoid it.
It’s too tempting to collapse in the chair or couch during your “rest period,” and turning your rest period into your… I’m not getting up period. Ideally, the garage or spare room where you can stay on point and not get distracted by the dog, kids, tv, or anything else is best.
Best Parts About Lifting at Home
- No gym memberships
- No travel time to and from
- No judgment from others
- No cleaning up after others
- You’re the DJ….crank it up
- No waiting for equipment to be available
- You can wear whatever you please
- No forgetting to take gym clothes or leaving stuff at the gym
- No annoyances from men…or women
- No sharing bathrooms, showers, sinks, etc..
Conclusion of Exercising at Home
To build muscle at home you have to be willing to make some small adjustments and avoid the common mistakes. These are just a few of the things that people tend to do at home when they are doing total body workouts that hinder the muscle gains that they see. If you want to build muscle at home and do it without equipment you have to pay attention to the little things. I hope these tips on building muscle at home serve you well, and you’re able to put them to good use.
What is your number one tip for building muscle at home? Leave a comment below.