I will show you how to gain muscle from home without free weights, by building a gym, and starting a workout routine in your house! I will share the equipment I use, the exercises I do, and a couple of examples of workouts that I’ve done (one for the upper & lower body). Use this as a template to build sweet bodyweight workouts!
You Don’t Need Free Weights
They are heavy and expensive, here is what I recommend instead. try a calisthenics home gym hybrid setup. OMG, what do I mean? Well, a combination of resistance training using resistance bands + weighted calisthenics is a perfect marriage.
When you combine resistance bands and weighted gear with your calisthenics, you’ve created a perfect muscle-building formula without weights. Heavy resistance bands of various levels mimic free-weight in a sense (not perfectly but close enough and at a fraction of the cost). Now you can perform 90% of the dumbbell workouts you would normally do in the gym at home without the risk of busting holes in your floor!
Then add in a chain belt, and a weighted vest and now you can make your calisthenics harder. For example, if you decide to lunge with an 80lb weighted vest on you’ll get a much more intense workout than if you used body weight alone. Here’s another example take the chain belt and put 2 45 lb bumper plates on it and do pull-ups with 90 lbs hanging from your waist! Now you have super heavy pull-ups.
I could keep going because there are so many possibilities that I didn’t even cover here, so let’s break it down.
Equipment You Will Need
You will need a pull-up bar, a dip station, a suspension trainer, resistance bands, and pull-up bands. You can add in a weighted vest and a chain belt, and at least 2 bumper plates. If you are working out on hard floors get an exercise mat for all of your groundwork, this will protect your joints. That’s all you need!
Take A Look At All You Can Do With With A Set Up Like This…
The truth is your imagination is the only limitation once you have the gear. It cost about 300-650 bucks to build and I have a ton of bands, more than you need to start out. It should only cost about 300 bucks to build a starter gym. Soon I will Get into the workouts. But first, let’s break down the price of each piece of equipment.
- Wall-mounted Pull-up bar – 60$
- Dip station – 60$
- Jungle Gym-XT Suspension Trainer – 99$
- Lifeline Resistance bands – (Small Set) – 40$ – (Big Set) – 120$
- Pull-up bands (4 pack) – 30$
- Exercise mat – 14$
- Weighted vest – 70$ (optional)
- Chain belt – 45$ (optional)
- 2 Bumper plates – 160$ (optional)
- Price Range – 303$ – 658$
The Core Exercises
All variations are valid, and you can use the weighted vest (if you have it) to make your push-ups harder. You can even use the pull-up bands (one end in each hand across your back) to add resistance.
All variations including chin-ups which are just a close grip pull up with a supinated grip. You can use the weighted vest or the chain belt + bumper plates to increase the resistance.
If your pull-ups become too hard from fatigue or you just want to warm up, attach the pull-up band to the pull-up bar and place one knee in the band. Now the band tension is pulling you up to that bar slightly, making it easier to do a pull-up.
Resistance Band Bicep Curls
Just the same way you would do a shoulder press with dumbbells in the gym, stand on the resistance bands and press them straight up overhead. The one main difference is that you can’t really do seated shoulder presses with them.
Suspension Trainer Bicep Curls
using a suspension trainer like a Jungle Gym XT or a TRX, you can perform a bicep curl by simply leaning back. Now, your body weight is applying force on your biceps. Just curl your body weight up with each rep.
Resistance Band Tricep Extensions
You can stand on your resistance bands and do a double overhead tricep extension. You could stand on a pull-up band and do single overhead tricep extensions. You can even attach the resistance bands to the pull-up bar and do tricep press-downs.
Shoulder Presses (With A Pull-Up Band Or Your Resistance Bands)
Stand on the pull-up band for a single band shoulder press, then switch sides. Or, stand on your resistance bands with handles and do a standard shoulder pressing straight up with both hands. You can even perform standing Arnold presses and so much more.
Front & Side Delt Flys
using either your pull-up band or your resistance bands with handles you can do standing side and front delt flys. It’s a great exercise to get those shoulders to pop.
Suspension Trainer Rows
A great addition to pull-ups, the suspension trainer row targets the upper & middle back. Because you have to stabilize the lower back, glutes, and hamstring it also targets these as secondary muscles. To do it, you simply lean back, and the closer you get to parallel the harder the exercise gets.
Using your dip station perform dips like you normally would, nothing special. You can adjust the width or height you can even use a pull-up band across your wrists and put your knees on the inside of the band, now when you go down for each rep it will be a little easier. If you want to make it harder put on the weighted vest for heavy dips!
Since bodyweight squats are pretty easy in most cases you can add on the weighted vest and even use the resistance bands at the same time to make your squats harder. This is what I do, and even then I usually have to go for more volume than if I am under a heavy barbell. The good part about these is the low risk of injury vs the barbell squat.
With your lunges, you can use the weighted vest for more resistance. You can even use a pull-up band, on the side you are training. Just make sure that foot is fixed to the ground, or the band can slip. This type of luge is great for isolating the leg and is better for STRENTH. If you don’t use the band and only use the vest you can move around more freely and perform dynamic lunges, that focus more on performance & mobility.
Single-leg Calf raises
Single-leg calf raises are ideal for bodyweight training because they are harder. Now if you add in the weighted vest and stand on an elevated surface, you can make them even harder! If you use a band do not stand on it because when you do the calf raise the band will slip off your foot, slide up your heel, and smack you right in the man jewels! Instead, if you are ok with some “home improvement” mount a resistance band mount to your floor, and attach your band to that! now you can do all kinds of band exercises from that floor attachment.
Build A Quick Workout (Example)
Here is a quick look at some of what my workouts look like. Sometimes I keep it simple like this or I will include more exercises.
Upper Body Workout
|Exercise||Set 1||Set2||Set 3||Set 4|
(40 lbs Vest)
(40lb vest + black band)
(40lb vest + black band)
|Pull-ups||16 reps||14 reps||8 reps|
|Dips||22 reps||18 reps||10 reps|
(40 lb vest)
|Shoulder Presses||15 reps||12 reps||10 reps||8 reps|
|Suspension Trainer Rows||20 reps||18 reps||12 reps|
|Side Delt Flys|
|15 reps||14 reps||13 reps||12 reps|
Lower Body Workout
|Exercise||Set 1||Set 2||Set 3||Set 4|
|Bodyweight Squats||25 reps||20 reps|
(40lb vest + bands)
(40lb Vest + Heavier bands)
|Elevated Single-leg calf raises||25 reps||22 reps||20 reps||18 reps|
|Lunges||20 reps||19 reps||17 reps||15 reps|
|Explosive Calf Raises||15 reps||14 reps||12 reps||10 reps|
|Sumo Squat Holds||15 reps||12 reps|
(40lb vest + bands)
(40lb vest + heavier bands)
|Weighted Single leg Calf Raises||16 Reps||15 reps||13 reps||11 reps|
In the examples above you can get an idea of how to structure your workouts, at the gym, or outside. If you do these at the gym you can add in more variety to your training with te addition of dumbbells, and kettlebells.
Want to know the top ten calisthenics exercises to start with?
I recommend all beginners start with the basics and avoid most isolation exercises.
Here are the compound calisthenics exercises you should be focusing on for a strong foundation.
Try to use this as a template for your own exercises and workouts. There are many in-betweens however this should cover the major aspects of your training. And remember, It’s not hard to write down a simple workout like this on paper.
Keep it simple and train your entire body, and never focus on only one muscle group. I’ve given you a well-rounded routine that will train your entire body from the ground up. If you liked this please share your thoughts below!