You know the guy in your gym who yells like he’s going into labor every time he finishes one rep of back pull-downs?
The good news is that he doesn’t live with you.
The even better news is that you don’t have to go to the gym at all to build muscle and get an honest workout in.
Using minimal, modern equipment, you can build muscle right from home, and without turning your gentlemanly living room into a crusty workout dungeon, either.
I’ve compiled a short list of some of the best at-home strength and fitness gear on the market. Gear that, when used properly, will help you build lean muscle, challenge your strength, and lead to growth and results.
What You’ll Need to Build Muscle From Home
You’ll quickly find there’s no shortage of at-home fitness equipment to sift through online. Finding the right gear for you’ll depend on the price point and different types of workouts. I’ve included super affordable pieces of gear, and slightly more expensive ones too. All of them are targeted toward efficiently building muscle.
Beyond the actual gear, building muscle will require a shot of motivation and some guided direction to keep you on track. I’ve pinned down a few apps and resources for this too. Here’s what we will be covering.
- TRX® PRO4 SYSTEM SUSPENSION TRAINER™
- Resistance bands
- Weight vests
- Apps and resources
Side note, make sure to eat lots of clean protein to help with muscle growth and repair on days that you workout.
How to Build Muscle Mass at Home (and Without Weights)
Iron weights are not spellbinding objects that magically make muscles grow. You can stimulate muscle growth without them.
To grow your muscles, you simply must challenge and put stress on them so that your body repairs and replaces muscle fibers to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils.
With the help of slow, controlled reps and total muscle fatigue, you can get a pump that rivals that of your fellow gym goers.
Combine intense bodyweight workouts with the right muscle building diet, and you’ve got a recipe for one home made beef cake.
This post focuses on the exercise portion, which is half the battle. Diet is a whole different beast and deserves its own breakdown. The video below does an excellent job explaining just how important diet is when building muscle:
How to Build Upper Body Muscle at Home
Muscle Fatigue & Suspension Training
A great way to grow your arm muscles is by doing reps until total fatigue, in which the muscle feels fully exhausted and burnt out.
You want to go until you can’t complete another rep without faltering your form, then rest. One of the most versatile pieces of at-home fitness gear, and one that allows for various upper body movements, is TRX’s suspension trainer.
Suspension training is the use of ropes or straps that allows you to work against your own bodyweight using various angles and positions.
TRX is the veteran darling of at-home fitness gear, and a brand that has proved for decades that by strategically using a mix of your own body weight and the ruthless, constant force of gravity, you can achieve a burn like none other and
TRX makes two primary suspension trainers, the HOME2 SYSTEM and the PRO4 SYSTEM. I recommend the PRO4 SYSTEM which only costs a little bit more and comes with thick rubber hand grips. This is also the one that pro athletes, olympians, and trainers use.
With the PRO4 SYSTEM, you can completely burn out your triceps, chest, back, biceps, and abs.
Watch this comprehensive Fit Gent video that reveals 25 of the best upper body TRX moves and the muscles each move targets.
Upper Body Moves With Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are ideal tools for burning out your upper body, since you can continuously change how much resistance you want to stretch through the bands.
By stepping down on the bands or strapping them around a tree or pole, you can do an array of upper body moves that will tone your chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, and delts.
A few classics that I like to turn to are: hammer curls, upright rows, shoulder press, and banded push-ups. See instructions for how to complete all these moves and tons more in this Men’s Health article which has compiled some of the best resistance band movements in the game.
Resistance bands come in various shapes, sizes, and strengths. If you buy the cheap ones on mass marketplace sites, don’t be surprised when the rubber looks tattered, breaks down, and eventually snaps on you.
Investing a few extra bucks into durable resistance bands goes a long way. TRX makes a simple set of resistance bands called BANDIT™ with firm plastic handles that feel ten times as comfortable as gripping the actual band itself.
At $50, this is a great price. The set also packs away into a backpack seamlessly. Just note, you may need to double, or even triple up on the bands to get enough resistance.
Do your research and find bands with good reviews that have held up for other guys over extended periods of time.
How to Build Leg Muscle at Home
Variable Resistance Training & Resistance Bands
Resistance bands have enjoyed a rocket-like surge in popularity in the fitness industry in recent years. I’m a big fan of them myself as they are easily storable, generate huge loads of resistance for your muscles, and may be healthier for your muscles than moving static weights.
Resistance bands fall into the category of variable resistance training. The idea behind variable resistance training is that the weight or resistance is “variable” and changes throughout the movement. This allows you to
For example, when doing a bench or chest press, you’re strongest at the top of the movement, when your arms are extended and almost locked out. When you’re at the bottom of the movement, with the bar or dumbbell barely hovering off your chest, you’re at your weakest point and most prone to injury.
Using resistance bands allows you to stretch the bands and get the most resistance at the top of a movement, while also enjoying less weight through less stretched out bands at the bottom of your movement. Whereas, with metal plates or dumbbells, the weight stays the same the entire time.
The beauty of variable resistance training is being able to max out your muscles at their strongest points and save them at their weakest points.
The science behind variable resistance training is extremely promising, revealing that you can pack on slabs of muscle by doing just one set of reps until total fatigue of a given muscle.
Weight Vests For the Win
Air squats, lunges, sprints, step-ups, jump ropes, and tons of other moves will leave your legs fried. A quick way to level up these moves?
Tack on 20lb and do the exact same thing. And no, I’m not suggesting you scarf down two extra large pizzas and a tub of ice cream before you workout! I’m talking about a simple tool you can toss on and forget about: a weight vest.
A good weight vest that snugly hugs your torso, avoids chunky, excess materials, and stands up to brutal workouts is a beautiful thing.
You might fly up a set of stairs, elevate your heart rate, and feel a little sizzle in your hammies once you hit the top. Now do it again in a weight vest. This time, your legs will be fully torched—and you didn’t change a single thing in the actual workout.
The most durable vest on the market is the TRX® XD™ KEVLAR® WEIGHT VEST. Closer resembling a military accessory than a piece of workout gear, this vest is made with DuPont™ Kevlar®.
Kevlar is a staple material used in various applications, including ballistic body armor, and is heralded for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio. Kevlar fibers are heat resistant and provide a tensile strength that is 10x stronger than steel on an equal weight basis.
TRX makes this vest in 20lb and 40lb options. Go ahead and drag this through mud and it will hold up just dandily.
A popular weight vest on Amazon is the Aduro Sport Weighted Vest. This vest straps around the body with a slightly different design and comes in 4lb, 6lb, 12lb, 20lb, 25lb, and 30lb options. Guys online have noted this vest is comfortable and great for training, though some said it wore out quickly and the filling started leaking out.
How to Stay Motivated at Home
You’ve got the gear, how do you assure you’ll use it?
Walking into the gym without a plan probably won’t result in a very targeted or effective workout. The same goes for working out at home. And at home, your couch is only an arm’s length away, which further jeopardizes your chances of achieving a truly killer, muscle-pumping workout.
Before you start, write out a daily or weekly plan. Ideally, you want to start your workout knowing which muscles you’ll be targeting, which movements you’ll be completing, and roughly how long you want the workout to last.
If you aren’t comfortable writing out your own workout, there’s a plethora of resources you can turn to.
- Consider briefly hiring a virtual personal trainer like Future Fitness. The goal here is to show them the gear you have on hand, explain your goals, and get them to draft you up a 6 or 8-week plan. They may want you to do one or two video training sessions with them before they cut you loose, but a good trainer should be able to set you up for success down the line.
- If you’re going to use TRX’s suspension trainer such as the PRO4 SYSTEM or another one, consider joining the TRX App. Currently, you can get unlimited access to the app, which includes live classes, on-demand workout videos, and discounts on TRX products for $14.99 per month. Or, if you only want access to the on-demand workouts videos, you can pay $5.99 per month or a flat rate of $49.99 per year. Having access to hours of guided videos might be all you need to follow along and get a great pump in.
- Download simple apps like “Intervals Pro” on the app store that will keep you on-track for time on and time off. If you’re running and want to track distance, time, and other metrics, try “Strava” or “MyFitnessPal”.
- Visit MuscleAndFitness, MensJournal, and MensHealth to get inspiration for unconventional bodyweight moves you can do at home that might not be on your radar.
Did you find some useful products and strategies to turn your humble abode into a makeshift gym that’ll torch your muscles and give you the gains and growth you’re chasing after?
Building muscle has always been about applying stress to your muscles—breaking them down so new fibers develop and growth ensues.
You can do this at home or outside using bodyweight, suspension training, variable resistance training, and other methods.
Do slow, controlled push-ups instead of rapid ones, strap on a weight vest, run through a suspension trainer workout using various angles and inclines, and write up a plan and use a timer app to time hold yourself accountable.
The ability to build muscle lies within the walls of your own house. It lies in your hands. Now go and get it guys.
How can I build muscle without going to the gym?
Using a mix of bodyweight exercises, suspension training, variable resistance training, and other methods, you can build muscle at home without going to the gym at all.
How can I build muscle fast at home?
Write out a plan using something like TRX’s suspension trainer or the X3 bar to build muscle effectively and quickly.
Is a 30 minute home workout enough to build muscle?
If you’re pushing yourself and targeting a specific muscle group, 30 minutes is sufficient enough time to see muscle growth. If you’re working out at home, consider picking up minimal gear to aid your efforts like TRX’s PRO4 SYSTEM suspension trainer or a set of resistance bands.