Gym Rat No More: 17 At-Home Exercises To Build Muscle

Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

There are many reasons why working out at the gym may not be convenient for you. Long or inconsistent working hours, family commitments, or just a general lack of free time are all common barriers to visiting a gym.

Even if you do have the time and money, other circumstances such as the quality or busyness of the gyms in your area can make visiting them a hassle.

Gym Rat No More 18 At-Home Exercises To Build Muscle

Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can build muscle without needing to leave your home. Many exercises don’t even need much or any, equipment at all, and use the weight of your body instead.

In this article, we’ll look at 18 at-home exercises you can do to build muscle.

1. Bodyweight Squats

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out. Put your weight on the balls of your feet and try to maintain that position as you squat down.

As you lower yourself down, make sure that you keep your shoulders back and your head up.

Stop when your legs are at a 90-degree angle and then lift yourself back up.

2. Spiderman Crawl

Begin by lowering yourself into a push-up position. You will be remaining in this modified push up position for the entire exercise.

From there, take a large crawl forward by moving your right arm and left leg forward at the same time. When bringing your leg forward, push your knee out as far as you can as you bring it forward.

When your knee is as far forward as you can get it, place it on the floor and then repeat these moves on the other side. Remember to stay low and keep your knee away from your body as you move yourself forward, alternating sides.

3. Burpee

Group doing burpees.

Begin by assuming a squat position and then place your hands on the floor in front of you. Make sure your weight is securely supported by your hands and kick your feet back so that you’re now in a pushup position.

Complete one pushup before quickly jumping your feet back to the starting position.

4. Push Ups

Get down on all fours with your hands positioned so they’re slightly wider apart than shoulder-width. Make sure your limbs are all straight and then slowly lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.

Hold this position for a few moments and then push up to your starting position. 

5. Feet-Elevated Pushups

This twist on the regular push-up is easy to do.

Simply follow the same method as the normal push-up above, only put your feet on a small box or block. Make sure the box is sturdy enough to take your weight.

Keeping your body straight and your nose pointed at the floor, slowly lower yourself down until your nose is a few inches off of the floor, and then push yourself back up.

6. Superman Exercise

Lie flat on your stomach on the floor and stretch your arms straight over your head and press your legs straight out behind you. 

Keep all of your limbs straight and lift them off the ground as high as you can.

Hold all limbs off of the ground for a count of 5 and then lower them back to the ground.

Woman doing superman exercise.

7. Bicep Curls

You are probably used to seeing people use dumbbells for this exercise, however, you can use many household items that are around and easy to grip, such as milk cartons or books, to add the needed resistance to build muscle.

Stand upright, with good posture and your feet shoulder-width apart. Firmly hold your weights in your hands with your palms facing out and your arms straight down at your sides.

Keeping your elbows pressed against your sides, slowly raise the makeshift weights until your arms are near your chest.

Once at shoulder height, wait for a moment before slowly lowering your arms back down. 

Make sure you are using a full range of motion with this exercise and keep your body still.

8. Single-Arm Rows

This is another common move in the gym with weights, however, you can also use a bag filled with items to add weight. 

Make sure your bag is sturdy enough to hold the items you place in the bag, and then wrap the bag tightly around your right hand.

Brace your left arm on a sturdy object such as the back of your couch or chair and bend slightly forward.

Let your right arm hang fully from your side and then lift the bag with your right arm, making sure to bend your elbow while keeping it close to your side. 

Squeeze your back muscles at the top of the movement and then slowly lower the weight/bag back down. Do as many as you can on your right side and then switch sides.

9. Bulgarian Split Squats

Find a solid object, such as a box or chair, that is around knee height. 

Stand with your back to the box and bend your left leg behind you at the knee so that the top of your foot rests on the box. 

From there, squat down, making sure that your foot remains on the box. Do as many as you can on one side and then switch sides and repeat.

10. Hip Thrust

Lie flat on our back with your feet flat on the ground at hip-width and your palms pressing against the floor near your sides. 

Push up with your hips so that the front of your body is in a straight line from your chest through your knees at about a 45-degree angle.

Slowly lower your rear end to just above the floor and then raise your hips back up again until your upper body is again in a straight line.

Woman doing hip thrust exercises in her living room.

11. Dips

This is another exercise that uses a knee-height object for balance. Sit with the object behind you and place your hands firmly on the edge.

Lift yourself so that your body is in the air but your feet are still firmly placed on the ground. 

You will need to bend your arms at the elbows behind you and they should bend at a 90-degree angle as you push yourself up and down.

12. Calf Raises

All you need for this exercise is a step so you can use a staircase in your house or a low, raised platform. 

Stand on the edge of the step and hold your arms outstretched in front of you at shoulder height.

Slowly rise onto your toes and then lower back down. You should feel the stretch in your calf muscles.

13. Step-Ups

This exercise also makes use of your stairs and is easy to do. 

Simply step onto your stairs with one foot and then go back down. 

Alternate from foot to foot.

14. Handstand Pushups (Advanced)

Although these are often associated with the playground, they’re also a great way to work out a variety of muscles throughout your body. 

The easiest way to get into a handstand position is by crouching with your back to a wall.

Firmly plant your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and then walk your feet up the wall until your legs are fully outstretched. 

Once in this position, balance against the wall with your toes and slowly try to lower your head to the ground. 

If you are new to the exercise, it might not be a bad idea to put a pillow on the floor where your head is being lowered.

15. Planks

Planks are one of the easiest but most challenging exercises you can do at home

Lower yourself into a pushup position only instead of resting on your palms, rest on your forearms instead. 

Keep your spine straight and your muscles tight as you hold this position without moving. You are now in the plank position.

To begin with, you may only be able to hold the plank position for a few seconds but as your core develops your plank time will increase.

16. Crunches

Man doing crunches.

Nothing can work your ab muscles like a simple crunch. Lie on your back and place your legs at a 90-degree angle with your feet off of the floor.

Place your hands behind your neck (to support it only; don’t pull up on your neck) and bring your shoulders off the floor for a second before lowering them back down. You can also cross your arms across your chest.

Keep your abs tight throughout the exercise and give them a nice squeeze at the top of the movement.

17. Lunges

From a standing position, step forward with your left foot and lower yourself down so that the knee of your right leg nearly touches the floor.

From this position, return to your starting standing position and repeat on the other side.

Keep your shoulders back and your head up as you do this exercise.

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this list, there are a wide variety of effective exercises you can do at home with little to no equipment. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, you can still get a good muscle workout at home.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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