Building muscle doesn't have to just take place in the gym -- any form of resistance training can be beneficial for building muscle. While you may never reach the level of elite weightlifter or world-class bodybuilder when training at home, you can build enough muscle mass to improve your physique, increase your strength and boost your metabolism.
Most people are familiar with basic body-weight exercises such as pushups, squats and crunches, so the temptation can be to perform these every day. However, muscles need rest to help them grow and can take around 48 hours to recover after exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise. Avoid the same muscle groups on consecutive days,as it can lead to burn out and won't help you build muscle. Opt instead to work your upper-body one day and your lower-body the next.
Base your upper-body workouts around two exercises -- pushups and chinups. Pushups may seem basic, but there are lots of variations you can perform. If regular pushups are too easy, try pushups with a resistance band around your back, elevated pushups with your feet on a bench, or one-legged and one-armed variations, advises Eric Cressey, owner of Cressey Performance in Boston. Alternatively, go for knee pushups if you can't do body-weight ones yet. You can buy a door frame chinup bar from most sporting goods stores and perform narrow grip, neutral grip or wide grip chinups. Attach a band round the bar, place your knees in the loop and perform assisted chinups if you're not too confident with body-weight reps yet.
The body-weight squat is your first port of call -- perform all reps going as low as you can while keeping your feet on the floor and your back straight. Once you can perform 10 perfect reps, try slowing down the tempo or jumping at the top. Lunges are slightly tougher than squats as they work each leg individually, which brings in an element of balance and coordination. Lunge forward, backward or to either side. These are both quadriceps-dominant movements, so to work your hamstrings, add in glute bridge raises, where you lie on the floor and lift your hips as high as you can, either with one or two feet on the floor. You can add core exercises such as planks, reverse crunches and rollouts to your lower-body sessions, too.
Pick four or five exercises each session. Perform all your exercises for three sets of six to 12 reps with one to two minutes rest between sets, advise the American College of Sports Medicine. Once 12 reps becomes too easy, switch to a more challenging exercise variation. To add variety and extra muscular stimulation to your program, consider purchasing a set of adjustable dumbbells, a kettlebell or some more resistance bands. Building muscle also requires an increased caloric intake, so increase the amount you're eating, particularly from protein and carbohydrate-dense foods until you're gaining around 1/2 a pound each week. You also need rest, so take one full day of rest each week to give your muscles time to repair and recover.
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images