Body-weight exercise provides enough resistance to strengthen your muscles.
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Gym memberships can get expensive, and these facilities aren't always conveniently located. The good news is that you can still get an effective resistance-training workout at home using basic weightlifting equipment, such as dumbbells, or no special equipment at all. Body-weight exercises can build muscle using your own weight as the resistance. Sure, you won't end up looking like a bodybuilder, but you can certainly build muscle and sculpt your body without a gym.
Basic weightlifting equipment that comes in handy when working out at home includes dumbbells, an EZ curl bar with weight plates and an exercise ball. If you can't afford any or all of these pieces of equipment, swap them for one-gallon milk jugs filled with sand or water and an inexpensive set of resistance bands. These tools will help supply the resistance necessary to exercise your biceps, triceps, shoulders, abdominals and legs. Even without any equipment at all, you can use body-weight exercises to get an effective resistance-training workout.
Using dumbbells, EZ curl bar or weighted milk jugs, you can do biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, shoulder presses, bent-over reverse butterflies and lateral raises. Lying on an exercise ball, weight bench or the floor, you can use dumbbells or weighted milk jugs to do bench presses and chest butterflies. Complete an upper-body workout by exercising your lower back and abs. Do crunches on the floor or exercise ball, and exercise your lower back using the exercise ball to do back extensions or lying flat on the floor and doing supermans.
Use body-weight exercises to target your hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves. A few of the most effective exercises include squats, lunges, calf raises, burpees, skipping rope and squat jumps. A complete lower-body workout may consist of doing wall squats using the exercise ball positioned between your back and a wall, standing single-leg calf raises while holding a weight, and squat jumps.
Because body-weight exercises typically don't work your muscles quite as intensely as using weight machines or barbells, it's important to adjust your workout intensity accordingly. You can challenge your muscles by doing more than the typical 10 to 12 repetitions you would in the gym - doing 15 to 20 reps is effective. You can also increase the number of sets or decreasing the rest time between sets to keep the intensity up. The key to building muscle is exercising the muscle tissue to exhaustion, so that's your goal each workout. Resting your muscles is also critical in the muscle-building process, so never work a muscle group to exhaustion two days in a row.