Basic Equipment for Building Muscle At Home

We may used to think that in order to build muscle, all we had to do was lift weights! So what better way than to visit the gym right? Unfortunately during this time of COVID-19, it can be risky to go because of the possibility of exposure to the virus. As a result, you might even consider getting some weights of your own at home but then realized later how expensive it can all become. Although weights are most well known for building muscle, they are actually NOT the only method! To get some ideas, it helps to understand the process of how muscles are even built.

How Are Muscles Built?

After each workout session, you most likely experienced the infamous “soreness” feeling and that is how you can tell you had a great workout! Why does this soreness happen though? It is because in addition to the lactic acid produced when you were doing your workout, your muscles are also essentially experiencing micro tears within them. Yes, it does sound like what you heard.

Your muscles are essentially being torn at a very microscopic level. BUT, your body is sophisticated enough to go through a repair process by generating new muscle fibers. When the muscles heal, they essentially heal back thicker and stronger. This means we also get bigger muscles!

Pros and Cons of Our Body When Building Muscle

Our muscles are also complex enough that it will continue to adapt to whatever stress you pose it with. This can be both a good and a bad thing.

  • The Good
    • Whatever stress you throw at your body, your body will adjust itself to meet the demands.
    • In the process, they will grow stronger.
  • The Bad
    • Unfortunately, your body will also get used to the your exercise routines.
    • As a result, your progress can even slow or plateau.

How to Keep Your Growth From Plateauing?

When building muscle, we need to keep our workouts challenging by trying to confuse our body. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks or so before our body starts to adapt to whatever workout we do. Once it does, that is when the results will plateau. Therefore, before that occurs, there are 2 things to keep in mind to make your workouts challenging.

  • Resistance 
    • Using a heavier weight or creating more resistance when you get used to the lighter weight
    • Your muscles will NOT be used to the heavier weight yet so it will be worked out more.
  • Time under contraction
    • Spending more time contracting your muscles means it will be worked out more too.
    • Rather than 1 second per repetition for each exercise, try 2 or 3 seconds. Do that for every repetition and you pretty much also double your workout.

What Other Equipment Can One Use to Build Muscle?

So we might not be able to visit the gym as often as we like and we might not even have the funds to own our personal gym with all weights. A good alternative to lifting weights would be something like resistance bands. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases)

Resistance bands might not seem like much due to their light weight but they function in a unique way. Here is how they compare with lifting weights.

  • Lifting Weights
    • The difficulty comes from the actual weight that you are using
    • To increase the difficulty, you either add another plate or use a heavier dumbbell
    • The weight difficulty is constant
    • Will have to change the weights depending on the type of exercise
  • Resistance Bands
    • The difficulty increases the more you stretch the band (almost at an exponential level)
    • There is more flexibility in the types of exercises you can do
    • Although you will build muscle, you might not bulk up like how pure weight training will

How to Use the Resistance Bands?

Essentially, your goal is to find ways to imitate your usual weight lifting motions with pulling motions. You can either:

  • Stand at the midpoint of the resistance bands and pull the bands or
  • Hook/loop the resistance band over a secure object and then pull it from there.

Here is a YouTube video on some basic resistance bands exercises for specific muscles.

Important Key Reminders When Building Muscle

Like with any equipment (and especially weights), there are some key things to keep in mind:

  • Resting days
    • This will provide time for your muscle to recover.
    • Exercising the same group of muscles consecutively can lead to MANY micro tears that will add up which will lead to a more dangerous tear. This type of tear will lead to injury and possibly even permanent damage to the muscle.
  • Sleep
    • This is the vital to your muscle recovery and repair
  • Consumption of Protein
    • Protein is like your building blocks for muscle. If you need more muscle “A” today since you worked out, your body will gather the building blocks to repair and build up muscle “A”.
    • Protein sources can come from food sources or protein powder (Branched chain amino acids, or BCAA)
  • Increased Hydration (with Electrolytes)
    • You will most likely be sweating during your workout. You should increase your fluid intake to replace what was lost.
    • Water is great but sometimes your electrolytes may be thrown off balanced (depending on how much you sweat). Perhaps a combination of water and drinks like Gatorade/Powerade will do wonders.

Recommendations

Avoid overstretching the resistance bands. In the past, I have pulled a cheap resistance band (the hardest level of thickness) that I got from eBay beyond its stretching limit. It actually snapped! With time, even if we purchased the most difficult level of bands, we will eventually reach a point where that will become “easy” for us.

Rather than stretching the band past its limit every time, it would be safer to use MULTIPLE bands at once. This would definitely increase the difficulty for you without the risk of the band snapping and hence I recommended this version. It allows you to add on bands and is very customizable.

Summary

Going to the gym to lift weights can be difficult during this time of COVID-19. Building your own gym at home with your own weights can be quite an expensive investment as well. But the good news is that lifting weights are NOT the only method to building muscle.

By understanding how muscles work, you can find other methods to build them up. One of those ways is through the use of resistance bands. Although they can seem “easy”, they can make them more challenging depending on your level of physique. Remember to use multiple bands instead of just one and stretching it beyond its limit. Now you can practically build muscle without having to go to the gym!

In addition to the bands, you can also try gymnastics rings, which helps with building the main muscles and other muscles that you might not have used as much before. When all these muscles get strong and big, they will all add up and help lead to a bigger overall build.

Did you enjoy this article on how to build more muscle without having to go to the gym? Please leave a comment below!

30 thoughts on “Basic Equipment for Building Muscle At Home”

  1. I know we are one year into COVID-19 but many people are still isolating themselves, and many people are still having we’re being forced To isolate themselves. And they have not had very much opportunity to actually exercise at home, much less to build muscle! This is my situation, I really do appreciate your article in the valuable information that you have provided. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello there, Misael! Thank you for your comment. Hopefully a solution can be found quickly so that we no longer have to continue to isolate ourselves.

      Reply
  2. Wow interesting, I gym at home too Infact I prefer home gym to going outside for it. One of the biggest advantages of having a home gym is that you can exercise whenever you want and not just when the gym is open. … Home gyms are also more convenient than gym memberships because they’re right at home, making it a lot easier for you to fit workouts into your day.Here are some basic exercises on how to build muscle at home without equipment, it will help you get going or getting you back in the shape.
    Running or Jogging. It’s too easy, right? …
    Push-ups. …
    Crunches. …
    Dips. …
    Pull-Ups. …
    Squats. …
    Bodyweight Exercises. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello there Zayom! I completely forgot about adding body weight exercises to this article! Those are definitely great workouts to do while at home and practicing quarantine. I am also one who prefers at home gym workouts than at the gym.

      Reply
  3. I am not keen on visiting a gym when it is full of other people and the risk of picking up the virus, so I love the idea of using resistance bands as an alternative to lifting weights. As a woman I do not really enjoy lifting weights as it appears to be such a masculine exercise. Using resistance bands will give me the flexibility to either work out at home, or take it to the beach with me and use them there.

    Reply
    • Hello there! I am the same way where visiting a gym may pose more risks than benefits just because of COVID. Lifting weights doesn’t have to be just a masculine activity. It is actually very beneficial for females too! Weight/resistance training helps one with developing more strength and has the potential of lowering the risk of osteoporosis and fractures when that time comes.

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  4. Having a set of weights and resistance bands at home definitely helps to keep you working those muscles. The only problem is we tend to become lazy and only do just enough rather than pushing the muscles more than we should.

    I keep some in the bedroom and some in the lounge and try to pick them up whenever I have a chance. However I am definitely looking forward to getting back into a class situation when I can be pushed a little more again.

    Reply
    • Hello there, Michel! Ahh, the issue of becoming lazy and only doing just enough rather than pushing it. That is something that I also struggle with. You are right in that it helps significantly to join a class where there are other like minded individuals to help encourage one another. I will try to get my family to join me in exercising rather than just doing it individually.

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  5. I enjoyed your article. I’ve never been a particular gym visitor myself but knowing that you experience micro-tears every time you do weight training is exciting. I have already considered buying this stretch rubber before, but it has not yet arrived. By the way, I love to exercise in house myself, and I am an active beginner in yoga, and I just thought that it would be necessary to get my hands and upper body stronger to do advanced yoga.

    Reply
    • Hello there, Lea! The science of how and why things happen always fascinate me including the micro tears that occur when we workout! Hopefully you have a great experience when the resistance bands arrive for you. I am sure developing some upper body strength will greatly assist you with doing advanced yoga!

      Reply
  6. Great article! Since the covid-19 pandemic, I’ve been lazy with my training. I even stopped training since the gym near my house has been closed down. This makes me start to consider training again to reduce my body fat since my hip and waist has started to have a lot of fat. The key reminders are very important to me. During my training days, I didn’t get enough rest (which may lead to the muscles almost have zero growth). Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello there! I too was lazy with my training when COVID-19 hit during the earlier part of last year. It really helps when there are other like minded individuals working out with you. This could be with your family or with an online community. Hopefully when you get back into working out again, you will see more muscle growth.

      Reply
  7. Great to see that some thought is being put into the over all health and wellness of people during this pandemic. Your blog tells us a lot about what happens when we work out and how that helps us to understand how this will still help us at home… What about some of the exercises that we can do at home or the different ways we can do those same exercises… as an example… at the gym I would use this piece of equipment to do this work out but at home I would do this instead…. we all know what a gym looks like, but especially for those that have never stepped foot in a gym help paint the picture of what it would look like to build it at home and still remain functional.

    Reply
    • Hello there, Chris. There is a section in the article about an equipment that one can try at home and there is also an instructional video on how to do some of the basic exercises with it (and specifically showing the targeted muscles). I am sure there are people out there who haven’t been to a gym either.

      Reply
  8. Thanks for reminding me that I don’t get enough excercise. We just pulled an exercise bike out of the garage and plan to start using it more often. Building Muscle is nice. Losing weight at my age is the main goal. I have some small hand weights that I should pull out of storage and start using them every day. I have been dieting the last few weeks, but have not put in the time to develop more muscle.

    Many years ago, I had a trainer that made me use the resistance bands. They work GREAT!

    Reply
    • Hello there, Rich! That’s great to hear that you’ve taken some steps towards a healthy lifestyle. I am glad you also had a great experience with using resistance bands. I hope you will be able to achieve your goals this year (or sooner!).

      Reply
  9. My husband misses the gym. We do have a weight at home, it has become a glorified doorstop. One lacks the motivation without the gym environment. Did not consider resistance bands, interesting thought. I have used one before but I have always considered it physio not exercise. I guess it is doing the same thing I just need to change my point of view.

    Any thoughts on how to increase motivation for exercising at home?

    Reply
    • Hello there! I used to think of resistance bands as just a tool for physical therapy too! But the same concept in building muscle is still there. Those who have been injured are retraining their muscles with a much lighter band. For most of us, we should be using more difficult bands and that is where we can even gain strength and muscle. 

      To increase motivation, it helps to create a schedule that fits in exercise and most importantly to stick to it. You might lose motivation along the way still, but it helps significantly if you have others doing it with you! It helps to get your husband or even other family members, friends, or neighbors involved. It also helps a lot to picture what goals you want and what you hope to achieve.

      Reply
  10. Hi, this is really great and could not come at a better time! I don´t gym but there is info for everyone on the page,  more so surprising to me was what you said about the soreness we get. we all experience that but never for a moment did I think it was essentially due to the micro tears within them. I was taken back about that. I will sure share you post with friends that exercise regularly. Thank you for your post.

    Reply
    • Hi there, Tania! I am glad you found the article to be helpful! The body has always been something that has fascinated me especially with the many things it can do and the things it has to go through. It’s really cool because once you start to understand just how one aspect of it works, you can really take advantage of that.

      Reply
  11. This is very helpful advice for anyone who wants to build muscle at home. With the covid pandemic restrictions, it’s been a safer option to workout at home than risk breathing shared air at the gym. It sounds like some resistance bands will be a good option that won’t require too much physical space at home. Thanks for the recommendation and helpful tips!

    Reply
    • Hi there, Aly! Thank you for your comment. It definitely is a much safer option for working out. You are right that it doesn’t take up too much space.

      Reply
  12. These are great muscle building tips! I definitely don’t lift weights as often as I should and I should probably invest in a some resistance bands as well. I’m definitely not wishing to bulk up a lot, but more to slim down. Do you have any advice for someone who’s more in my position?

    Reply
    • Hi there, Rachel! You can still utilize resistance bands to slim down as well. Focus more on higher repetitions instead of the difficulty of the band. I recommending finding the band difficulty where doing repetitions of perhaps 12 to 15 is doable and challenging for you (can be any exercise). If you can do more than that, the band may be too easy, if you can do less than that, the band may be too difficult. I also recommend trying out intermittent fasting, it can be difficult at first so take it slow by reducing meal sizes over a few weeks (not days). I have an article for that as well on my site.

      Reply
  13. Hi Mike, I’ve just read your article on basic equipment for building muscles at home. I find it very helpful and informative. little did I know that resistance bands can also help in building muscles. I actually thought muscles need heavyweight equipment to build up. Now I have a simple solution to continue working out at home. I’m going to get this resistance bands for myself. Thank you so much for sharing such useful information with us. I promise I will be sharing this amazing information too.

    Reply
    • Hello there. Thank you for your comment. It’s quite common to think that only heavy weights will build muscle but anything with resistance can pretty much help provided that the exercise is challenging enough. If the resistance cannot be increased, you can still increase the time under contraction.

      Reply
  14. It is nice to be able to continue working out while we’re still in this quarantine. I have been working from home since the pandemic started and initially, I began to gain weight. I have tried to change my exercises frequently and up till now, I haven’t spent more than a month with the same routine.

    Reply
    • Hello there, Ann! That’s really good that you continued to work out ever since the pandemic and quarantine. That’s also good that you don’t spend more than a month on any one routine.

      Reply
  15. Great, detailed article.  I have always used resistance training, but as I get older, I have added reps and not added as much weight.   One thing that I am doing now that really helps is working to extinction.  I will do as many reps as I can for a muscle group with a weight. Rest for 15 seconds and do half that many and keep resting and halving until I am down to one.  I find that I don’t have the aching joints and its also good for cardio.  Thanks for the article, particularly the reminder about eating.

    Reply
    • Hello there! That is another great technique to use (the working till extinction/exhaustion). I would categorize that is time under contraction and that would definitely help in strengthening your muscles. It is a great form of cardio combined with strength. Good job and keep it up!

      Reply

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