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How to Build Muscle Without Weights - The Complete Guide

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: June 28, 2023

Individuals have the notion that muscles can only be attained through lifting weights. Well, that's not the case. Some individuals have busy schedules to the point they can't access the gym. This shouldn't make you give up on building more muscles in your body.

There are some proven exercises you can perform from your comfort zone and still get some muscles. Thye range from squats, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, dips, and planks, among others. For these routines, you should exercise while combining them at least thrice or four times a week.

Apart from the exercises, I will give you more tips on how to attain and maintain the muscles you attained without weight lifting.

Quick Summary

  • To build muscle without weights, you should do rotating exercises like squats, pull-ups, dips, lunges, and planks thrice a week.
  • Increasing the difficulty of the exercises mentioned above will start giving you muscles within the shortest period.
  • Get at least 7 hours of even sleep after any workout because muscles are reproduced during rest.
  • Remain hydrated throughout the day, as water is vital in the production of body muscles.
  • Increase protein and vegetable levels in your diet as they are used to build and repair body muscles.

The Secret to Building Muscle Without Weights

Guy showing his muscle back on dark background

It’s no secret that you can have the build you want with the right amount of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes. But what holds many back is the idea that you need a gym membership or weight exercises to get started.

In reality, you can work on building muscle without weights in the comfort of your own home, in the park, in the office, or seriously anywhere you feel comfortable.

You can do exercises without equipment and exercise without weights. All you need to build muscle is dedication and knowledge on how to put your body to use through bodyweight exercises.

By continually challenging your muscles with bodyweight exercises, you can build muscle mass at home just as well as you would at any gym.

6 Best Body Weight Exercises to Build Muscle

The best way to exercise without weights is first getting to know what bodyweight exercises are best for building muscle.

Rotating through these options will work to target those prime areas of muscle and get you that full body workout without weights.

1. Squats


Start with working on those buns! Squats are an excellent way to improve core strength and work those glutes. (1)

Begin your squat by situating your feet just wider than the width of your hips with your toes facing forward.

Lower yourself as if you were going to sit in a chair and go as low as you comfortably can, then press into your feet and return to a standing position.

If you have children, an interesting challenge to add to squats is giving your child a piggy-back ride while you’re at it. Safely, of course! Know your limits before attempting this.

2. Push Ups


With push ups, you are putting your body weight to the test as you push yourself off the floor. Start by positioning your hands on the ground slightly larger than shoulder-width apart.

As you push yourself up, your body should stay straight. No butts in the air!

This exercise works to strengthen your core and build upper body muscle mass.

You can also switch things up by alternating your limbs, such as trying one-arm push ups or one-leg push ups. When trying different variations of this exercise, make sure you perform each version equally.

3. Pull Ups


Continue working on your upper body strength and target your forearms, back, and biceps with pull ups.

All you need to get started is a bar to pull yourself up from.

Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar, clench your butt and tighten your abs as you pull yourself straight up off of the ground.

Pull ups can be daunting, so if you aren’t totally comfortable with the thought of lifting your body off the ground, you can trying lowering your pull up bar and starting with your knees on the ground and lifting yourself up from that position first.

4. Dips


Like pull ups, dips are a great way to do upper body exercises without weights. If you don’t have access to fancy dip equipment at home, no worries! You can use a chair.

Start with your hands on the seat of the chair and lower yourself until your legs are bent at the knees at a 90-degree angle.

Push yourself up until your arms are straight again, then lower yourself back down into the 90-degree angle.

You can also check out the best home gym dip bars.

Related: Dips Vs. Bench? Which One Should You Do?

5. Lunges

woman doing lunges outside

Much like squats, lunges take aim at your glutes and are a great way to get in leg workouts without weights, as well as working to strengthen your core and balance.

To start, keep your upper torso straight and step forward with one leg.

Lower your hips until both knees achieve a 90-degree angle.

As you push yourself back up from this position, make sure you’re applying the weight to your heels. You’ll want to alternate between each leg as you go through reps.

If doing lunges for the first time, watch this video to guide you on how to do it properly.


6. Planks or Situps


While the debate is out about whether or not planks or situps are better for abs, either way you’ll want to make time to do both.

To begin a situp, lie down on your back and bend your knees with your feet firmly placed on the ground.

Cross your hands over your chest and bring your upper torso to your knees.

A couple reps of this will target your chest, hip, neck and lower back muscles.

To do a plank, get into a proper push up position, push yourself up and hold that position for a minimum of two minutes. Doing planks will target your core and glutes as you test your endurance!

You can also use an ab roller in your weightless workouts.

Why Workout 3x Per Week?

The best way to build muscle and see progress from your efforts involves two key elements: routine and consistency.

Without routine and consistency, your efforts will fall short and you likely won’t get the results you were hoping for.

Scheduling your workouts for Monday, Wednesday and Friday gives you the set routine and consistency throughout the week, with a day in between to relax your muscles before jumping back in.

On your workout dayschoose four types of exercises and work through each exercise at least three times to reach a minimum of 12 different exercises. You can either do these exercises 30 seconds at a time with 30 seconds of rest in between or boost the duration of each exercise to turn up the intensity of your session.

Be careful not to overexert yourself though, as this can hurt your muscles.

6 Effective Muscle-Building Tips

1. Increase the Difficulty of the Exercises

man pushing himself

Just as you would with weight exercises, you want to make sure you’re increasing the difficulty of your bodyweight exercises as you continue to strive to meet your fitness goals.

Push yourself until you can’t do another rep and once you’re able to do 15 reps at a time, find a more difficult exercise to pursue.

2. Increase the Amount of (Healthy) Foods You're Eating


Fitness goes a lot farther than just exercising and eating healthy. If you’re trying to build muscle mass, you’ll want to up the amount of healthy foods you’re eating!

Try to include more protein and vegetables in your diet. Switching from refined carbohydrates to items such as whole unrefined grains and fruit will also be helpful in the long run. (3)

This will even encourage more healthy habits to help you build muscle without weights!

3. Sleep 7-10 Hours

Sleep plays an important role in building muscle mass. Getting a good night’s rest will not only make you stronger mentally, but physically as well.

In fact, experts from Center for Psychobiology and Exercise Studies in Brazil concluded in a study that

Lack of sleep can lead to muscle loss by: hindering muscle recovery after damage induced by exercise, injuries and certain conditions associated with muscle atrophy.

- Experts from Center for Psychobiology and Exercise Studie

4. Drink Lots of Water


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I cannot stress this tip enough. It’s crucial for your health and is a key player in building muscle.

Drinking at least eight to 12 cups a day will keep you moving and flexing your muscles efficiently.

This will also help carry important nutrients needed for recovering from a routine.

5. Don’t Overdo the Cardio

man tired of workout

Cardio is an excellent method for burning fat and kicking calories, but for muscle-building purposes you’ll want to avoid going overboard.

Shane Duquette, founder of the fitness website Bony to Beastly, warns that overdoing cardio can harm muscle growth due to something called the interference effect.

However, if you do cardio moderately, your cardiovascular system will adapt, allowing you to deliver more blood to your muscles.

You need fuel to build muscles. Always ensure optimal muscle recovery.

Between 2-4 days a week of cardio for 30 minutes at a time is ideal to avoid burnout.

You can also try out this list of calisthenics exercises.

6. Invest In Some Gear (Ex. Pull Up Bars, Kettlebells)


While you can exercise without weights, some kind of gear will help you along the way.

If you have the money, investing in smaller items such as battle ropes, pull up bars, kettlebells, a TRX band, etc. will help with resistance training and getting you on the fast track to building muscle.

Francis Fessler, founder and coach at F2 Wellness, highly recommends using bands for muscle building because they are far easier on the joints when used.

Just make sure you're using them properly, and just as with bodyweight exercises, the different rep counts, rests, and speed make all the difference.

Building Muscle Without Weights: The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to build muscle without weights, get started on your workout! The fitness journey to build muscle is specific to the individual and experimenting with the tips above will get you started on the right path.

You can also include these high-quality protein powder supplements if you want to strengthen or recover your muscles more quickly.

The best protein powders we've tested on the market are compiled in our lists.

Other Resources:


  1. William McCoy, Do Squats & Situps Work Your Core?, retrieved from
  2. Kimberly Caines, The Benefits of Lunges, retrieved from
  3. Miriam E. Nelse, PhD, Will Eating More Protein Help Your Body Gain Muscle Faster?, retrieved from
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