You Don't Have To Lift Weights To Build Muscle, Thanks To These 5 Workouts

by Georgina Berbari

Being an aggressively broke, post-grad "adult" can be rough. Like, how did I get here, and can someone Venmo me enough money for a quality gym membership, please? Anyone? OK, real talk, though, whether you're struggling with low funds, or you simply want to learn how to build muscle without lifting weights because workout machines and equipment just aren't your thing, it's totally possible to make gains using the simple power of your own body. You just have to get a little creative about the ways in which you move and challenge yourself.

"Building muscle doesn’t require complicated and expensive equipment," Dr. Shaun Kennedy, a general medicine and nutrition doctor at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Medical Center, tells Elite Daily over email. "Significant muscle gains can be achieved at home using no more than your own bodyweight." TBH guys, I can already feel my wallet shedding a tear of joyful relief.

If you’re looking to move away from weightlifting, or you simply can't afford a gym membership/your own set of weights, Dr. Kennedy recommends you begin to build strength with simple bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, sit-ups, leg raises, and planks. "Each of these exercises has a number of different variations to target different muscle groups and provide balanced muscle gain," he explains.

Try these five workouts the next time you want to work on your strength without spending a dime.

Experiment With Push-Up Variations

There's a whole world of push-ups out there just waiting for you to explore, my friend. According to Dr. Kennedy, when it comes to push-ups, you can vary the width of your hands from a wide, to a more narrow position, to target different upper body muscles. The latter will require more tricep strength, he says.

"You can also try elevating your legs during push-ups, which will have more effect on the deltoid muscles and upper pectoral area. The key to bodyweight exercises is to challenge the muscles with proper form and variation to avoid imbalance and injury," the doctor explains.

Stay consistent with your training, and you're golden.

Use Your Couch As A Prop

"One of my favorite bodyweight exercises to give my beginners or individuals that prefer to work out at home are tricep dips using the edge of your sofa to build the muscle on the back of your arms," Dr. Zarinah Hud, a sports and integrative pain medicine specialist, tells Elite Daily in an email.

You know what that means? It's time to use your favorite piece of furniture as something other than an object for your body to melt into while you watch The Office (again).

Challenge Your Body To A Few Burpees

According to Dr. Hud, burpees aren't just exercises that require zero equipment — they build your biceps, glutes, quads, and calf muscles in the process. "The reason I love burpees is because they build muscle and endurance and increase bone health — which is great for protecting against osteoporosis," she explains.

Drop and give me five, fam.

Try This Bodyweight Workout

For a well-balanced workout, Nastasia Genova, vice president of fitness at Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Clubs, recommends targeting different muscle groups in one circuit.

Not entirely sure how to do that? Try this straightforward circuit that Genova says she swears by: Squats, jump squats, hip raises, push-ups, reverse step lunges, and burpees. "Complete each of the workouts for one minute each, repeating this set three times," she tells Elite Daily.

Start A Daily Planking Routine

A really easy way to start building total-body strength, says David Barbour, co-founder of the wellness company Vivio Life Sciences, is to challenge yourself to a daily planking routine. "No gym required, no weights, and you only need a small open space," he tells Elite Daily over email.

Barbour recommends holding a standard plank position for two to three minutes at a time in order to build upper-body muscles — but if you low-key feel like you're going to die before then, start with a minute and work your way up.