Equipment Free Exercises to Build Muscles

Shoaib Siddiq Jan 24 2016
article 8

Building muscles and having a toned body is often associated with gym. But gym with all its dumbbells and weights are not necessary to build a good body. You can build amazing body just by using your own body weight. This means lean muscles for guys, and a toned-up body for girls. Here are equipment free exercises for each body part.

Chest

Needless to say, pushups are the single best exercise to build chest without weights. It works your pectoral muscles to lift against your body weight. Even though almost everyone knows how to do pushups, but I am going to state proper form anyways.

  1. Start by placing feet shoulder width apart and hands on the ground a little wider than the shoulders width, make sure fingers are spread apart to increase surface area in contact with the floor.
  2. Neck should be in a neutral position; eyes set straight ahead at the end of the mat (or just set a point where you don’t have to stick your neck up).
  3. Make sure your entire body is in a straight line, special emphasis on your butt.
  4. Clench your glutes and tighten your abs. At the top position your arms should be straight supporting your body weight exactly in line with your shoulders.
  5. While inhaling in, slowly lower yourself to the ground by keeping the arms close by your sides and bending them at elbow joint till your chest is close to the floor.
  6. Exhale out and push yourself to the start position.

It may be difficult in the beginning, but trust me, you will get there. If it gets too easy, ask someone to sit on you and lift against the added weight.

Vary the hands width and angle of the platform you perform on to hit chest from every different angle. Do inclined pushups for lower chest and declined pushups for upper chest.

Back

When it comes to building a bigger wider back, nothing beats pull-ups. It targets the entire back, specially the latissimus dorsi (lats) for that wider V shaped back.

  1. Start by griping a pull-up bar with true supinated grip (palms facing away from you) more than shoulder width apart.
  2. Hang your body lose. This is the starting position.
  3. Slowly pull yourself up, using your back only, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and hold for a second before slowly going to the start position.
  4. It might get difficult in the beginning and you may need to cheat by using your lower body to swing yourself up, but it will get easy with time.

If it gets too easy, you can always lift against a resistance band or use ankle weights to add challenge to this exercise. Vary the grip width to target the entire back.

Legs

Squat is hands down the king of lower body workout and it does not necessarily have to be weighted squats.

  1. Stand shoulder width apart with feet facing slightly outwards; make sure the toes are spread apart to increase the surface area in contact with the floor.
  2. Place your hands in front of you, either folded or prayer hands or just straight ahead.
  3. Go down by bending your knee while keeping the back straight, chest out and core tight.
  4. Go low so that your hips are exactly parallel to the floor.
  5. And then push yourself back up by straightening the knees.
  6. Squeeze the gluts at the top position and repeat.

Try variations such as pistol squat, single leg squat etc to add the challenge.

To target calf you can do calf raises by placing one foot behind the ankle of the second foot and lift up by bending the foot at ankle joint. Repeat the same for the other side and you will have killer calves in no time.

Biceps

Small muscles groups such as biceps are difficult to target. Equipment free isolation exercise is almost impossible, so you have to settle for compound exercise. Reverse (pronated) grip pull-ups is my number one choice.

  1. Start by grabbing a pull-up bar with close grip and palms facing you.
  2. Hang loose on the bar so you feel stretch on your arms.
  3. This is your start position. Slowly lift yourself up by bending at elbow joint only to emphasis on biceps.
  4. Make sure to go all the way up to feel that peak contraction on your bicep.
  5. Hold for a second before returning to the start position.
  6. Do not use your lower body to lift yourself up unless absolutely necessary.

Vary your grip to target bicep from each angle. If it gets too easy, try using resistance bands and ankle weight.

Triceps

Triceps are small groups of muscles as well, but targeting them is slightly easy. You can perform Dips and diamond pushups to target them.

For Dips: Start by sitting on a bench or stool or any flat surface above the ground. Place your palms close to your butt and grab the surface. Next place your feet on another stable bench/chair/stool such that your body make an L shape. This is your start position. Keeping your elbows by your side, embrace your core, chest high, back straight, slowly bend at elbow joint till it is at 90⁰. Push back up to that start position and repeat.

If it gets too easy, use weights in your lap to increase the intensity.

For Diamond Pushups: Setup as you would for a normal pushup, the only difference is that this time your palms will be close and slightly angled towards the opposite side so that it forms a triangle or diamond shape. Perform the exercise as normal pushups but you will feel more strain on your triceps rather than your chest.

Shoulders

Very tricky muscle to target specifically as it is mostly targeted in compound exercises such as pushups, pull-ups and dips. You can however target them more by doing the air circles, declined pushups and hand stands.

For Air Circles: Stand shoulder width apart and raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor. Next, moving your arms at shoulder joint only, draw circles in the air, first clockwise, then counter clockwise.

For Decline Pushups: plant your feet shoulder width apart on a surface above the level of ground such as stairs and position the hands as in general pushups and perform the exercise likewise. Gradually increase the angle of decline to add more stress on the shoulders

If you build enough strength, you can progress to hand stands where your feet are high up against the wall, hands on the ground performing pushups.

Abs

There is a huge variety of exercises for abdominal muscles. Most of which are done at home. Briefly to target different segments of rectus abdominis, you need to perform the following three exercises:

Double Crunch: This exercise targets the upper abs. Start by lying straight on the mat or ground. Next, bend your knees at 90⁰ and bring it close to your body so that your upper body and lower body are at 90⁰ to each other and place both hands behind your head. This is your start position. While exhaling out, bring the knees towards your face and your face towards your knees simultaneously and then slowly return to the start position.

Supported Crunch: Start by lying on the ground with your feet supported on a platform above the ground. Make sure to bring the hips close to the platform so that your upper body makes a 90⁰ angle with the lower body. With your hands behind your head try to use your core to bring your face towards the knee. Slowly return to that start position and repeat.

Oblique Crunch: Lye on the right side of your body with the left leg on top of the right leg. Both legs slightly bent at knee join. Place the left hand behind your head and the right hand flat on the ground. This is the start position. Crunch by trying to bring the left elbow up as high as you can. Hold and return back to the start position. Repeat this on the other side.

Remember as for any workout, a proper diet is necessary. So make sure to eat clean and work your way to the summer body you want!

Shoaib Siddiq

Shoaib Siddiq:

Shoaib is currently a 3rd year MBBS student. Apart from studying, you can often find him in gym either resistance training or practising mixed martial arts. With his love for fitness training and knowledge that comes along with it, he writes various fitness related articles for HTV.