How to Build Muscle and Strength Without Lifting Weights


There are tons of at-home workouts you can do with no equipment with positive effects, but it’s tough to make those workouts add bulk and muscle mass to your physique. The key, according to trainer Brian Nguyen, is not only doing the right exercises, but also doing them in quick progressions that force your muscles to be explosive.

Nguyen trains Mark Wahlberg and has worked with several other celebrities and star athletes, such as Will Ferrell and Kobe Bryant. He is also the co-founder of Brik Fitness, which plans workout programs for a number of stars, Olympic athletes and collegiate teams.

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This training routine, encouraged by Nguyen, is a great way to work out at home when you can’t make it to the gym, unless you already do most of your workouts outside that setting. Regardless, the exercises and movements utilized here maximize results by constantly testing your strength against gravity while also working on stamina in various muscle groups.

The basic bodyweight exercises to build muscle

This workout includes four categories of familiar exercises: squats, pushups, lunges, and planks. The benefits come from utilizing different variations of each of these, and the great results you’re looking for will come from taking an intense approach to each exercise until the routine is finished.

INSTRUCTIONS: Perform this workout as a circuit. Do each exercise from the first “category” for 30 seconds, then move on to each of the exercises from the next category for 30 seconds, until you get through all 12 of the exercises. Rest for 3 minutes after each circuit. Do the circuit for a total of three to five times.

1. Squats: Bodyweight (“Air”) Squats, Squat Jumps, Isometric Squats

2: Pushups — Standard pushups, Plyometric pushups, “Pause” pushups (hold for 1 second in the middle of the rep)

3. Lunges: Bodyweight Alternating Lunges, Split-Squat Jumps, Isometric Lunge Holds

4. Planks: Side Planks, Front Planks, Hip Bridges

It’s all about pushing your muscles constantly over a brief period of time—getting a lot done quickly, in other words.

For example, do the body weight squats at a good strong pace, setting your legs up to be explosive for the squat jumps. Fatigue should set in during these jumps, which is, of course, great for muscle building as you move forward with the workout. “Then finally, the iso hold is like the icing on the cake,” Nguyen says. “Because the muscle has nothing left already and I’m still asking it for more. So ultimately, it breaks more muscle cross fibers so that you get growth, and that’s the bulk part of it.”

Nguyen stresses the importance of the explosive exercises in this routine, saying the squat jumps, plyometric pushups and split squat jumps will really work to reshape your body and build muscle. “If you’re doing the body weight movement of these exercises but not the explosive component, then you’re going to have more of the muscle you might find on cross country runners,” he says. “If you’re looking to bulk up, it doesn’t really make sense to just do repetitive motions like jogging for a long period of time.”

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