by Will Grumke August 26, 2022 7 min read
I understand not everyone has access to, or wants to go to, a traditional gym or fitness facility.
In those cases, you may be under the impression that you cannot build lean muscle with at-home workouts.
However, that's false. You can definitely add lean muscle with the proper home workout plan.
In this article, I will explain some tips to put yourself in the best scenario to build muscle naturally while working out at home. These tips apply to a daily workout plan, a weekly layout or even a monthly strategy.
So, let’s dive in and knock out some living room workouts together!
I know that some of us are brand new to working out, while others have been at it for years.
No matter where you're at in your journey, I commend you for starting and/or sticking with it.
If you are new to working out, then the good thing is you have an advantage here.
Simply put, your muscles have not worked like this before, so they most likely haven’t adapted. That means they have more room to grow compared to someone who has worked out for 5, or even 10 years.
When you work out using weights or resistance, you will break down your muscle tissue ... and with proper recovery and nutrition, they will grow back bigger and stronger.
If you are advanced, meaning you have been training for approximately 3-5 years, it may take a little more effort and time. Making notable changes can be a bit more "difficult", because your body has already grown and adapted from the workouts you have been doing.
Regardless, even in a gym, a newcomer typically has the potential to see changes faster.
But something that is often overlooked is that ... no matter what your experience is, you can optimize the results you can earn as you get on the move through at-home workouts.
While some may have a full gym in their house, there are those of us who have very minimal setups.
If you have a full gym, just keep doing your thing with the workouts and focus on the other aspects of the article.
Now ... if you’re like me, then you don’t have much at home.
I mainly have the basics, like resistance bands, maybe a select few dumbbells, and a stationary bike.
The good thing is, bands are relatively cheap online or at local sporting goods stores. Dumbbells and Kettlebells are great additions to the arsenal that you can find there as well.
Bodyweight exercises are also an option, but don’t be afraid to get creative if you have to. Try different weights to change up the reps for each activity - do pushups to build your chest with a kid on your back, or hold them and do squats, if possible!
Make sure you keep your form and position consistent with the exercise to prevent injury - be safe, but try new things!
I have even seen videos of people using old laundry detergent containers filled with water or sand for weight lifting exercises. Talk about getting creative!
It doesn’t take the fanciest equipment in the world (everyone has a bodyweight and a floor) to get a good workout ... just an able body and a strong mind! Buckle up and get straight to it!
Now, as for what workouts to follow, there are great resources right here online...
More specifically, the 1st Phorm App has awesome at-home workouts, with AND without equipment.
Let’s assume you are limited on equipment and don’t have a full gym at home.
From my experience, there are a few things you can do to optimize results without lifting heavy weight.
We have to figure out a way to increase intensity and activation of the muscle fibers.
One thing is going to be training until failure!
What does that mean? That just means that if you are performing an exercise with resistance, you do it until you cannot do another rep with good form. This way of training works for workouts that use both push and pull movements. When the amount of movements are increased, the muscle has an opportunity to build and grow.
Training until failure isn’t always the answer, especially when lifting heavy. However, when you're at home with minimal weights (such as some at-home dumbbells), it's a great method. It forces you to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible during an exercise.
That leads to more breakdown in as many muscle fibers as possible.
If you don’t have a heavy load (heavy weight) on the muscle, then you have to rely on more sets or repetitions, increasing the volume from repetitions, which is the number of times you perform an exercise during a set. Push-ups with only body weight need more sets to reach a similar effect on your chest than if they were weighted, but it's well worth the time.
You may have heard of “Time Under Tension” before.
As stated above, training until failure will go until you can’t do any more, so that is where the time comes in. Time under tension refers to the total time that your muscle is being used during an exercise.
One more thing I do when I want to add difficulty to my at-home workouts is Tempo Training. I know … I had no idea what this was when I first started, but it’s an easy thing to add!
For example, if I am going to do a bodyweight squat, I can do a 5-1-0 tempo for each rep. This lengthens the time of each set and allows the body to fully complete each movement.
That would be 5 seconds squatting down, 1 second of holding the position or "pause" at the bottom, and stand up quickly (without an intentional delay). This method can also increase that time under tension that I mentioned above.
You will definitely feel a burn if you add those in and train until failure!
I know I can be guilty of this myself, but proper rest is so important for progress. When you start leveling up your workouts, don't forget that sleep is a key to lift your mental state as well as your physical.
As I stated earlier in the article, you want to break down the muscle during workouts.
The REST of your progress, fixing the broken down muscles, happens during the days and nights AFTER your workouts.
See, when you focus on getting the necessary rest, your body can build muscle faster.
Besides nutrition, which we talked about above, sleep is a main component of recovery. A good place to start is focusing on getting 7-9 hours of QUALITY sleep every night, if possible. One standard tip is to have a night routine that allows the mind to quiet a little, so you can go straight to sleep.
If you want more info on sleep hygiene, read this blog that covers it in more detail! 7 Tips for Better Sleep.
You have been training until failure, even using tempo to add difficulty to the workouts. Your nutrition has been going good, but you want to know what else you can do...
That is where you can look into a Post-Workout Recovery Drink. This is the first place I go if someone wants to build muscle, and is working out with any sort of resistance intensely and purposefully.
There are two main things your body does during those workouts:
1) Breaking down muscle
2) Depleting muscle glycogen (fuel used during resistance training)
Our body's first instinct after a workout is to replenish that fuel, then work on repairing the broken down muscle. So how do we do that?
I would add in a High Glycemic Dexanhydrous Glucose powder that helps restore Glycogen (muscle fuel).
Then, pair that with a Low-Temperature Processed Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate, which will digest more rapidly than a whole food protein source. After workouts, speed is king! These two help refill the "fuel", and start fixing the damage done to your muscles very quickly!
You can find the perfect combo for this in our Post-Workout Stack! Combining Phormula-1 and Ignition after a workout is one of the best things you can do for your recovery and results when it comes to nutrition!
I hope this article gives you some new ideas on how to build muscle at home.
As always, if you have any questions, or need help with your at-home workout routine, simply send an email to CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or pick up the phone and call 1-800-409-9732 to talk to one of our NASM Certified Personal Trainers here at HQ!
NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, NASM VCS Virtual Coaching Specialist, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer