Building muscle doesn’t necessarily need to involve an expensive gym membership or buying lots of expensive equipment. While having access to barbells, dumbbells, benches and the rest is obviously advantageous, it’s by no means an essential element for those looking to add some muscle. You can have a thorough, challenging workout using next to no equipment simply by using your own bodyweight.
Bodyweight workouts can go far beyond the stereotypical push ups and pull ups routine – there’s a huge range of movements that can be performed to give you a complete, full body workout. By following some simple progressions, you can work your chest, back, shoulders, arms, core and legs, all using the bare minimum of equipment.
Ideally you will have one piece of equipment available – a pull up bar will allow you to perform a range of movements which will help develop your back and core, and really gives you an advantage over a zero equipment workout. You can normally pick up a fairly inexpensive bar which will attach to a door in your house, or if you’re looking to go all-out a pullup/dips station is a great option.
The exercises below should provide a fairly comprehensive full body workout. Start with the basic movement, and as you get stronger you should try to progress through each movement.
Foot Supported L-sit > Tuck L-sit > L-sit
Plank > Reverse Plank > Side Plank
Hanging Knee Raises > Bent Leg Hanging Leg Raises > Straight Leg Hanging Leg Raises
Push-Up > Diamond Push-Up > One Arm Push-Ups on Stairs > One Arm Push-Up
Pseudo Planche Push-up > Frog Stand > Tuck Planche > Straddle Planche > Full Planche
Pike Push-Up > Wall Headstand Push-Up > Wall Handstand Push-Up > Freestanding Handstand Push-Up
Pull-Ups > L-sit Pull-Ups > Weighted Pull-Ups
For a full breakdown of how to perform these exercises, as well as some additional progressions and some other excellent movements, check out the Reddit bodyweight fitness exercise guide. There’s also an FAQ section which will answer any questions and give some further ideas for workouts with no weights.
Building muscle doesn’t need to be expensive, and you don’t need lots of equipment to get in great shape. If you can work through the progressions above you’ll be stronger than the vast majority of people with access to the best equipment!