The Best Exercises to Build Muscle Without Weights

For some people, a gym membership is just too darn expensive and having their own gym equipment is just not an option due to space limitations. Whatever the reason, people still want to work out and get good results, but is it even possible to build muscle without weights? You betcha it is – Lets look at how…

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build muscle without weights

How to Build Muscle Without Weights

First off, very quickly, lets look into what is actually required in order to build muscle. To understand this, we need to look at the principle of overload.

An Overloading Stimulus

An overloading stimulus, which is basically a stress that has never been encountered by the muscle before, is the number one requirement for the growth of muscles.

However, free weights and machines do not have to be a source of that stress. Gravity, instability, momentum, and the weight of the body can also become sources of an overloading stimulus that results in muscle growth.

To remove any doubt about this, take a look at any Olympic gymnast’s physique. Body weight exercises are their absolute bread and butter and they have some of the most perfectly sculpted bodies going.


The Best Exercises for Building Muscle Without Weights:


Spilt squats

Squats are often referred to as the king of exercises and even with just your bodyweight, they are hugely beneficial. Perfect for building your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and core muscles.

Facing forward, stand two to three feet in front of a chair, couch or similar bench type furniture and place one leg behind you up on the bench.

Lower the knee of your back leg towards the floor until both it and your front knee form a 90-degree angle.

Remain in an upright position throughout and make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle.

Ensure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight on your heels as you push back up to the starting position.



An absolute classic and for good reason. Will build muscle in your chest, shoulders and triceps. Different hand placement will alter the targeted muscles; Hands closer together targets more the triceps, while further apart targets the chest more.

Elevating your legs (e.g. onto a chair or couch) is a further variation that will engage more of your shoulders into the exercise. When you feel they are no longer challenging you, raise one hand up onto a large book or other flat surface to make it feel like an assisted one-armed push up.

The next step from there is a true one-armed pushup and you are unlikely to outgrow those in a hurry.



Well known for being one of the best ways to build muscle for the back, but will also build your biceps better than any amount of curls. Has many variations; changing from close grip to wide grip as well as switching between palms facing forward and palms facing back towards you, will all change the area of the back that the exercise targets.

A wide grip with palms facing forward is the hardest, but will activate the biggest muscles of your back and yield the best results. Mix it up to provide variation and to keep workouts challenging.



A great core building exercise for both the abs and back, hitting all the key stabilizing muscles. Strength built from planking will improve nearly every other exercise you do.

Keeping your back straight, hold yourself up off the floor on your forearms and on your raised toes.

Start off with reps of 20 seconds and build up to 90 seconds.

To increase difficulty, reduce the rest periods between reps.


No More Excuses to Not Build Muscle

All of these exercises are very capable of building serious muscle and all without the use of weights. As long as you move through the progressions to keep them challenging, your muscles will adapt to the overloading stimulus and grow.

While it is fair to say that it is probably not possible to build Arnold Schwarzenegger levels of muscle using these exercises, they are still very effective and are capable of providing substantial gains – you only need to take a look at any Olympic gymnast to see what is possible.

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