There’s something about the gym that just makes it easier to stay focused and get the results you want. But, we can’t all get to the gym right now. So of course there are plenty of people wondering how to build a body at home.
So how do you build a body at home?
What’s missing isn’t the expensive equipment, it’s not the smoothie bar, it’s not the steam room or the massage table.
The key ingredient is discipline.
That’s what we often have a hard time finding at home. You can do push-ups and bicep curls anywhere in the world. But home is where you have pets that need to be let in and out, kids that need attention, and the Playstation calling your name.
Simply put: It’s easier to stay focused in an environment specifically built for exercise than it is to stay focused in an environment specifically built for relaxation and managing day-to-day responsibilities.
So we’re trying to figure a couple of things out in order to learn how to build a body at home. First, how do we find the time, energy, and focus?
Second, how do we actually work out with minimal equipment?
Before we can get started pumping those milk jugs, we have to get in the right frame of mind.
So how do you create that gym-like focus in a very non-gym-like setting?
- Devote an area of your home to exercise. You don’t have to do all your exercises here. If there’s no place for the treadmill beside next to your desk, well then that’s where it goes. But if you can clear out an area of the garage or a guest room or just a corner of your bedroom or living room and devote that space fully to exercise, it will be a lot easier to get into the right headspace for working out when you step into that area.
- Stick to a schedule. The great thing about doing things at home is that your schedule is flexible, but, you should have a schedule to flex. If you sit around waiting “until you feel like it,” well, that might be never. Obviously, you don’t want to push yourself after an exhausting day at work or if you’re not feeling well, but if you know that 10 am to noon is for working out, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
- Avoid distractions. Easier said than done, right? But by selecting the right place and time for exercise, you may find it’s easier to get into the zone than you think. Choose a space where you won’t be distracted, and a time when you know your boss won’t be calling you and your friends will be too busy to drop by. It is vital to get into the right headspace to do anything productive and great. You may want to let your family know that you need a little help staying focused, by which you mean: Go find something else to do and don’t bug me for a little while!
At-Home Workouts with Minimal Equipment
If you have a rowing machine or a treadmill or a weight bench, awesome. That’ll help. But what if you don’t?
No big deal. There is more workouts you can do without expensive equipment than with.
Everything that happens in your body when you hit the gym, it’s all-natural, right?
There’s no magic to be found in a weight bench that allows for male muscle growth, that’s all your body’s doing.
The weights are just a nice little convenience. They can help, but they’re not entirely necessary. Every study you read will tell you the same thing: Muscle growth relates to the amount of tension in the muscles, not the amount of money you spent on the weights.
So let’s start with…
Bodyweight essentially means that you’re doing weight-lifting, but the only weight you’re lifting is your body. If you look at lions and gorillas in the wild, you’ll see that they have some impressive muscle mass and tone.
And yet, where are their weight benches?
Nowhere to be found. Simply moving your own body around can be enough to get you into the shape you desire.
A 2017 study observed two groups of trained men. The first group spent eight weeks doing push-ups, the other group spent eight weeks on the bench press. Both groups wound up with the same results at the end of the study.
You can always stick to the standard push-up, or you can try any number of variations. You can elevate your feet (try a footstool or a small wooden box) for a serious back workout, or single-arm and elevated-hand push-ups to work that shoulder.
You can also lay on your back under the coffee table and do some pull-ups on the edge of the table.
- Work the Legs
There’s nothing more natural than using your legs to lift the body. So with at-home leg workouts, we’re looking to do that, just with a bit more oomph.
You can start with squats, of course. If you want to do weighted squats but you don’t have a barbell handy, you can fill book bags up to use as weights, or fill some old milk jugs up with water and hold them at your side.
You can also do pistol squats, where you go down on one leg at a time to maximize your pump.
For well-defined calves, you’ll want to do calf raises. Stand on the edge of your front step, or anything that will safely hold your weight, with your heels hanging off the edge. Hands forward to keep your balance, and use your calves to lift yourself straight up and down.
- Crunches, Sit-ups, and Planking
You don’t need a machine to do crunches at home. You know the drill. Get on your back, lift your knees to your elbows, repeat.
Just make sure you go all the way down and all the way back up with each movement. The machines help us to perform the movement correctly, but all it takes is a little discipline to get it done without help.
A great workout for your back and your core is the superman exercise. Lay on your stomach in the superman pose, arms forward. Now elevate your feet and hands. Think of it like doing an upside-down crunch.
While there’s plenty that can be done without any equipment whatsoever, it is nice to have some equipment handy. The good news is you can make everything you need from stuff you have laying around. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Handmade weights. As nice as it feels to hold a barbell in your hand for chest presses, it’s going to be a lot easier to simply create two matching weights. You can fill milk jugs and soda bottles with water, or book bags and backpacks with whatever you can find that’s heavy. Use your bathroom scale to see what you’re lifting (weigh yourself holding the weight, and then without the weight, if it won’t fit on the scale on its own), and make sure that the weights match when doing two-handed exercises.
- Something to step on. A lot of at-home workouts will require that you have something to step on or elevate a hand or foot as necessary. This could be a small wooden crate, a footstool, a chest, or even a cinder block you found outside. Maybe you already have stairs in your house, and you can just use the bottom step. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want something for those workouts that involve elevation. Just make sure it’s sturdy. Anything wobbly or fragile won’t do, so you can forget about stacking those old DVD players under your feet.
- Rope. Will that bar in the closet holds your weight for pull-ups? No. It won’t. What about the shower rack? Afraid not. You know what will hold your weight, though, is a nice piece of rope suspended from a sturdy branch or the rafters in the garage. If you don’t have a safe doorway-mounted pullup bar to use, a rope will do just fine.
- Old towels and sweatshirts. Twist them up and they make a fine resistance band in a pinch.
You don’t need to be a purist about this, of course. You can always head to the store and pick up a few hand weights, a resistance band, maybe even pick yourself out a new exercise outfit and some comfy sneakers.
The point isn’t that you need to take a vow of poverty at your home gym, just that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get the same workout you’d get from a gym decked out with expensive equipment.
Ready to Get Started?
The toughest part of working out at home?
Getting started. It’s easy to lift those weights at the gym because what else is there to do?
You didn’t come here to play on your phone, right?
But once you get the first day’s workout out of the way, every day after that is easier than the day before.
It’s all about good habits. If you want to lose weight, if you want to see some serious male muscle growth, if you want to improve your cardio, there are no quick fixes, no magic pills, there’s just putting one foot in front of the other, doing one set of reps and then the next, and sticking with it day after day.
If you can fit an elliptical machine or a weight set into your home, great. That’ll just make the whole process a little easier. But even if you can’t, all you really need is the discipline and focus to pursue your fitness goals.