You can build muscle mass at home even if you don’t have any weights or equipment. That is, as long as you know what you’re doing, which is what we are here for.
We’ll show you the best bodyweight exercises for mass, as well as other effective workouts you can do at home with no equipment.
When building mass, it’s best to focus mainly on one muscle group at a time so you can rest the others. Going all out and giving your attention to one muscle group at a time means more intensity and more potential for hypertrophy for that muscle group before moving on to work on other muscles.
Most of the sections below focus on one main muscle group. However, as it makes more sense, we did group all the leg muscles in one section and all the core muscles in another.
We’ll start each section with ideas for how you can hit that muscle group with just your bodyweight. Push-ups and pull-ups are all-purpose exercises that you can tweak to focus on nearly any muscle, depending on the angles and placement of your limbs and torso. Most sections include some push-up or pull-up variations, so pay attention to these variations as they can make all the difference.
After the pure bodyweight movements, we’ll talk a bit in each section about how to incorporate some DIY equipment. For instance, a towel may not be the first thing that comes to mind for improving your workouts, but towels are surprisingly useful. You probably already have one at home. We’ll also use things like your chairs, tables, and couches.
If you want to add more resistance, we’ll show you how to load up many of the below exercises with makeshift weights. One of our favorite adjustable makeshift weights is a backpack. Backpacks are easy to hold, and you can fill them with random things to make them as heavy as possible. We’ll show you how to use a weighted backpack and other homemade weights to help build mass.
To hit your biceps and make them grow, you need to find exercises that bend your elbows under load with your palms facing you. We can come up with several creative ways to perform that movement with just your bodyweight and things around your house.
Working Your Biceps with No Equipment
The most intuitive bodyweight biceps exercise is a simple leg curl. Just sit on any chair with your legs slightly apart, and use either arm to curl the opposite leg. To get a good grip, hold the leg under your thigh just above your knee, and brace your elbow against your torso. You can get more weight by pushing down with your leg.
You can hit your biceps with both push-ups and pull-ups if you reverse your hand position.
For pull-ups, your palms should be facing you (supinated grip). Technically this makes it a chin-up position. This close grip chin-up exercise is great for shifting some of the focus from your back to your biceps. Though your back muscles will still work, you will really feel your biceps.
You can also use the inside pushup with reversed hands, you point your fingers toward your feet instead of your head. Though it may feel a bit strange and may place more strain on your wrists,
Working your Biceps with DIY Equipment
Biceps are easy because you can load them with anything you can grasp in your hand and curl. This includes:
- A toolbox
- A brick
- A guitar case
- A sack of potatoes
- A backpack
Use a Towel Exercise to Grow Your Biceps
If you have a long towel, you can use it for towel curls.
- Roll the towel lengthwise to make it stronger.
- Step on the middle with one foot, and hold an end in each hand with your closed fists facing you.
- Curl the towel. Focus on your squeezing your biceps, and press down with your foot for resistance.
The triceps are often neglected in favor of the biceps, which is a huge mistake. Working triceps is just as important as working biceps. Strong triceps are crucial for many exercises. Besides, if you want bigger arms, you absolutely must work out your triceps just as hard as you work your biceps. You can target your triceps by straightening your elbows under load with your palms facing away from you.
Working Your Triceps With No Equipment
The easiest way to hit your triceps with no equipment is to put your arms against each other. Clasp your hands in front of your chest like you’re arm wrestling yourself. To work out your triceps, focus on pushing down using the hand with its knuckles facing you, and provide resistance with the other arm. You can also work out your biceps by focusing on the hand pushing up.
The narrower you place your hands while doing push-ups, the more the movement will squeeze your triceps, and the less it’ll hit your chest. Put your attention into your triceps muscles, and try to do most of the work with just them.
DIY Equipment For Working Triceps at Home
Dips are an excellent minimal-equipment triceps exercise using a weighted variation. You can do an easy version by sitting with your legs straight and your back against a step or other low elevated platform. Put your hands on the step behind you with your palms down and your knuckles facing you, and lift your bodyweight.
You can make the exercise heavier by stuffing your backpack with heavy things and doing the movement with your backpack on your lap. Want to make it even harder? You can use a chair to elevate your legs in front of you.
This Towel Exercise Will Hit Your Triceps
Here’s a simple way to do triceps kickbacks with a towel instead of dumbbells.
- Bend over at the waist with one arm slightly bent at your side like you’re about to do a regular triceps kickback. Instead of holding a dumbbell in your hand, hold one end of a towel.
- Hold the other end of the towel with your other hand in front of you, and use it to provide resistance to the arm doing the kickback.
- On the way back, the triceps in the arm in front of you squeezes, while the triceps in the arm behind you provides the resistance.
See Also: Best triceps exercises with no weights
You work out your chest muscles mostly by pushing things away from you at chest level. Make sure to use plenty of different angles to get a well-rounded upper, lower, inner, and outer chest. You can get a great chest workout at home without weights.
Chest Workout With No Equipment
Push-ups will be the green veggies of your chest workout. Wide hand positions take the focus off your shoulders and triceps and put it squarely on your pecs. Your hands should be wide enough to feel your pecs stretch but not too wide that you sacrifice form.
Use push-ups to hit your inner chest by putting one hand at a time on a low stack of books. Do a normal push-up on the way down, but rotate your body toward the book stack as you push back up to activate the inner chest fibers.
Chest Workout Using DIY Equipment
If your bed is high enough that you can fit yourself under it, you can use it for chest presses at home. Put some suitcases on top to make it just heavy enough, and then slide underneath until the edge of the bed is at your chest level. Use a wide grip to press the bed until failure. The bed’s legs will act as your spotter.
Use Towel Slides To Work Your Chest Hard
Sliding push-up variations can help you hit your chest from more angles. Start in a plank position on a smooth floor with each hand on a folded towel.
You can imitate chest flies and work your inner chest by sliding your hands out sideways until your body touches the floor then sliding back up to plank position. Slide your hands slightly up or down to imitate incline or decline flies and hit your upper and lower chest fibers.
See Also: Best chest exercises with no weights
Your back muscles are part of your posterior chain. That means you work them out mostly with pulling exercises. Back muscles connect to so many other muscles in your body that it’s essential to focus on starting these movements from your back or hips, not your arms, chest, or neck.
Back Exercises With No Equipment
The hip hinge is an easy beginner’s movement that can help you learn the proper technique for lifting with your back muscles. It just involves standing up straight, bending forward slowly to a 90-degree angle, and then going back up. The key is to keep your spine straight and neutral and initiate the movement from your hips and glutes. That will keep your back muscles working together as a team.
Here are three great no-equipment back exercises that start by lying face down on the ground:
Start from a prone position with your arms extended past your head, raise your arms and legs backward at the same time to make a U shape.
Like the Superman position, but alternate raising one arm with its opposite leg then the other.
The snow angel is great for targeting your rear delts as well as your back. Lie face down, dig your toes into the floor for leverage and perform a slow breaststroke with just your arms.
Train Your Back Muscles with DIY Equipment
Pull-ups and rowing are excellent back exercises that you can do at home without buying any weights or expensive machines. You can make your own pull-up bar without much effort. You can even build a rowing machine with no special do-it-yourself skills required.
Using a Table
If you have a table you can trust, you can use it to hit your back muscles with inverted rows or reverse leg raises:
Lie under the table on your back, grab the surface with your hands and focus on using your back muscles to pull your upper body toward it.
Reverse Leg Curls
ie face down on the tabletop on any kind of stable surface. Look for a surface that isn’t too wide, as you would need to hold the surface or table sides with your hand for support. Now use with your hips and legs hanging off the edge, use your back to lift your legs backward toward the ceiling.
See Also: Top 5 bodyweight back exercises
You work out your shoulders either by pushing things up over your head or by pulling things up to head level with your palms facing down. The nice thing about shoulders is that you don’t need much weight to build strong and beefy delts.
Delts Exercises With No Equipment
You can load up your overhead pushing movement and build serious shoulder mass by standing on your hands and pushing the ground away from your body. Focus more on your shoulders and less on your balance by steadying your handstand against a wall.
A fun variation on the wall handstand push-up is the wall walk. Start in plank position facing away from the wall with your feet touching it. Walk your hands backward toward the wall as you walk your feet back up the wall as high as you can go, then back down.
Shoulder Exercises with DIY Equipment
If you want to add more resistance without using weights, you can use easy to make DIY dumbbells. You can use bottles filled with water or sand, bags of groceries or canned foods to do shoulder presses, raises, flies, shrugs, or high pulls.
Train Your Shoulders Using a Towel
You can also use a towel instead of weights to give any of those exercises resistance. Perform the movement with one arm holding one end of a towel and pull on the other end of the towel in the opposite direction with your other arm.
For the towel single-arm shoulder press, for instance, the towel would hang down behind your back. Keep it taut with your free hand as you push upward with your target hand.
See Also: Shoulder workouts with no weights
Working out your legs with these bodyweight exercises at least once a week will improve your stability, increase your lower-body strength and agility and give your upper body a rest.
Leg Workout With No Equipment
You can make any lower-body bodyweight exercise heavier and better at building muscle by jumping into the air or pausing at the most difficult point.
The air squat is one of the best bodyweight leg exercise out there.Instead of just going up and down, explode into the air at the top of every squat, and then try to land softly. Alternatively, find the natural sticking point in your squat, the most difficult point in the movement, then pause there for a few seconds.
You can add jumps to both forward and lateral lunges to make them harder. If jumping doesn’t feel right, add a knee raise at the top of each lunge instead.
These are basically leg-jumping push-ups. From plank position, anchor your hands firmly to the ground, and kick only your legs high into the air.
Leg Workout Using DIY Equipment
You can use your couch or a low step to work out your calves at home.
Tuck your feet under the couch to hold them in place for Nordic ham curls. Sit on your heels and piston your body forward at the widest knee angle possible. Focus on using your calves to stay balanced.
Make calf raises more efficient by standing backward on the edge of a low step and letting your heels hang off the edge. Start by lowering your heels as far as they can go, and then raise them as high as they can go.
Add Resistance and Increase Leg Muscle Mass With a Backpack
Build even more muscle with these bodyweight exercises by loading them up with your backpack. Adding a weighted backpack to your squats, lunges, glute bridges, Nordic ham curls, and calf raises can help you build strong and muscular legs.
Most bodyweight exercises in this and our other home workout articles hit both your focus muscle group and your core. That includes push-ups, any movements that start from plank or prone position, as well as most leg exercises.
Here are some movements that focus mainly on your core and give your legs and arms a rest day.
Core Workout at Home Using No Equipment
Lie on your back with your arms and legs dangling in the air above you like a dead bug. Move in a circular motion or sideways on the floor using only your core.
These work best if you use your core to fold both your upper and lower body inward. Lie on the floor, put your hands behind your head and try to touch your elbows to your knees.
For this variation, lie flat on your back, and bicycle your legs in the air. Touch your knee to your opposite elbow with each rotation.
Lie on your back with your arms out in a T shape and your legs pointing to the ceiling. Rotate your legs to the left then right, like windshield wipers.
Using DIY Equipment to Work Your Core Muscles
If you have a makeshift pull-up bar, you can do more advanced crunches and windshield wipers. For bar crunches, dangle from the bar, and use your core to lift your legs until your toes touch the bar. For bar windshield wipers, hang from the bar, lift your legs until your toes touch them, and rotate your legs left and right.
The smaller muscles in your forearms are not only crucial for a strong grip, but thick forearms make for a powerful look. Forearms are also pretty easy to hit at home.
You can modify the grip of most biceps exercises to turn them into forearms exercises. The key is to do the movements with your wrist only.
Working your Forearms and Wrists With No Equipment
To do a forearms leg curl, for instance, sit down, and lay your right arm over your right leg. Your wrist should be just past your knee with your right hand hanging down. Put your left ankle in your right hand, and curl it with your wrist only. Watch the muscles in your forearm clench.
Hit your forearms with push-ups by doing them up on your fingertips or on the first two knuckles of each hand. You can also put your palms on the floor slightly in front of your head instead of under your chest to work out your forearms with Sphinx push-ups.
Use DIY Equipment To Strengthen Your Forearms
Find a chair with legs small enough to grip in your hands. Lie on the floor face down in front of the chair with your arms stretched toward it like you’re worshipping it. Grip a front chair leg in each hand and try to lift its rear legs using just your wrists.
Use a Backpack
You can make a wrist roller by tying one end of a short rope to the middle of a broomstick and the other end to your weighted backpack. Hold the broomstick horizontally in front of you with your arms straight, and roll up the rope with just your wrists and fingers until the backpack touches the stick.
Tips for Effective Home Workouts
The Mirror as a Spotter
You don’t need one, but if you have a large mirror, you can use it as your personal trainer. When no one else is watching, it can be easy to try to breeze through your workouts and sacrifice your form. This can wear your body out prematurely over time. Be your own trainer by exercising in front of a mirror and correcting your form before it hurts you. If you don’t have a mirror, another trick you can use is to place your phone on a tripod and take videos of your set, so you can watch whether your form was good. If you sometimes struggle working out at home and need some motivation, looking at yourself in the mirror is a proven great motivator.
Many web exercise guides tell you to remove all distractions from the equation when you exercise. We believe that boring yourself to death is counterproductive. Instead, choose a favorite show, audiobook, or sports event, and make a rule that you can only watch or listen to it while working out.
Celebrate Your Muscle Gain
Give yourself goals, and celebrate heartily when you reach them. You might treat yourself to your favorite dessert every time you reach a certain amount of reps or upgrade to a heavier variation of an exercise. Use cheat days to reward yourself for progress, but don’t use it as an excuse to go overboard and eat unhealthy foods. Get strong and stay healthy.