How To Build Muscle From The Comfort Of Home

How To Build Muscle From The Comfort Of Home

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Many people find themselves with more time at home than they are used to since stay-at-home orders have been established for part of 2020. It’s important (perhaps now even more important) to stay healthy and exercise regularly. Even though you might not have access to a gym, there are tons of ways to get moving, like running or walking, going for a bike ride, or streaming a yoga or Pilates class.

But what about those of you who want to maintain your gains? It might feel tough to build or maintain muscle while at home, without access to your usual weight training program, but know that it is definitely possible.

Even for those of you who aren’t necessarily trying to bulk up, maintaining muscle is still an important part of your health. Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy muscle mass assists your metabolic health, improves mitochondrial function, and supports longevity.

Here’s how you can maintain and build strength at home.

Photo: Flickr.com/shane_tech_teach

Use What You’ve Got

You don’t need a full-scale home gym to have a good, tiring workout. Most people think weights are required to build muscle. More weight = more gains, right? The truth is that all your muscles need to bulk up is to be trained to complete fatigue, and there are two ways to do this: slower reps or increased number of reps.

Maximum strength and muscle toning can be achieved with super slow movement. Both the lifting and lowering portions of movement must be controlled. Start with three seconds, then increase the time. Ten seconds to lift, ten seconds to lower. (Technique and form are key for this one.) It might feel maddening to go so slowly, but you will certainly feel the burn. Plus, any risk of injury is reduced with slower movement and fewer reps.

You can also produce just as much muscle growth with light weights and more reps as you would with a higher weight protocol. Body weight alone can stimulate muscle growth if the exercises are done to your complete fatigue threshold. Basically, keep going until you can’t do another rep.

Additionally, you can easily upgrade your workout by adding resistance bands or suspension bands into your routine.

Photo: WikiMedia Commons/Jgcastor

Example Of A Muscle-Building At Home Workout To Try

Start with a warmup set of body weight movements. Keep it simple and choose sections of the body to work on: upper and lower. Googling “body weight alternatives to…” for at-home alternatives to traditional workouts will yield tons of results.

Lower body: Pistol Squats
Upper body: Pushups

Now, after your warmup set, do three sets of either super slow repetitions (10-20 seconds) until failure or high volume up to 35 reps. Rest for a minute to 90 seconds between each set. Track your total volume for each exercise (sets x reps).

Repeat 2 to 4 times per week, varying the exercises as you please. Make sure to adjust your routine for sustainable gains. You need just enough rest and to “deload” every once in a while (a workout at 40% usual volume) in order to keep from plateauing or overtraining.

There you have it. It’s viable to maintain and build muscle from home without anything but your own body weight. Change it up and get creative with resistance bands or discover new alternative movements for traditional weight training, just to keep it fresh. You might find you like the variation even when you can hit the gym again.