I feel like Popeye with a bulgy gut
July 12, 2008 5:14 AM   Subscribe

The best way to develop muscle without weights?

About 4 months ago I was a slightly overweight 210 lbs @ 6' tall. I had a nice amount of muscle mass and somewhat of a bulgy gut. I had been doing a regular weight training program over the past several years: heavy weight, slow reps of 8. I would work out at the gym 3-4 days a week, and occasionally I would mix in a jog or an elliptical session.

Then, my schedule at work changed, and it made making it to the gym much more difficult. Also, I had wanted to lean myself out for some time. So, I decided 4 months ago I to switch my exercise routine to jogging, yoga, walking, calisthenics.

Now, 4 months later, I'm down to 182 lbs (yay), but I look like crap. Most of my previous muscle mass in my shoulders, chest, and back has withered away. However, oddly I've retained a good amount of muscle in my arms and legs. But, my waistline hasn't changed at all. Now I just feel like a skinny guy with a gut .

Obviously I want to change things up so that I develop more muscle, especially in my shoulders, chest and back. However, going back to weights will be difficult. I can't make it to the gym regularly, and I don't have the space for my own weight equipment.

What can I do?
posted by brandnew to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Use your body as the weight.

posted by Sitegeist at 5:28 AM on July 12, 2008

The Naked Warrior. If you don't have a good stretching routine (that, minimum, includes internal and external shoulder rotators) you will eventually hurt yourself.
posted by zeek321 at 5:43 AM on July 12, 2008

Everyone has space in his apartment for a set of dumbbells.
posted by yclipse at 5:44 AM on July 12, 2008

100 Pushups?
posted by ruwan at 6:05 AM on July 12, 2008

We have several resistance bands laying around our place. They can be hung on a hook or looped up and stored easily. Hubby uses them a lot and he's got good arm muscles. Squats and push-ups are always good, too.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:05 AM on July 12, 2008

especially in my shoulders, chest and back.

Push Ups

I agree with yclipse, you can put dumbbells, even a small barbell under your bed. If you can't or don't want to do this, you can do any number of things to build and define more muscle. Like Pilates and swimming laps.

Challenge yourself with variations of push ups, squats, and lunges.

Here's a cool video of a hotel workout. This might be good for you don't have a lot of space. This guy seems pretty knowledgeable and uses good form. He has a couple videos here (or more) that don't use weights.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:05 AM on July 12, 2008

Second hundredpushups.com — I'm only a week in, and it's really quite impressive. I could do sixteen (MAYBE seventeen if I'd REALLY pushed myself) in a row for the initial self-exam, and by the end of the third day I could do that many after doing four sets in a row of fifteen, thirteen, ten, and ten pushups. I already notice a difference.

I also use the prescribed pushup numbers and do jackknife sit-ups right afterward, if only for the hell of it (I have rather muscular legs already from a lot of walking, and also from playing a lot of DDR in high school, so I don't really bother with them).

Give it a shot. If nothing else, in six weeks' time you'll be able to claim that you've done a hundred pushups in a row without lying about it.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:50 AM on July 12, 2008

anecdotally popular in prisons
posted by generalist at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2008

Burpees might be the best overall bodyweight exercise there is.

The circuit training programs in Simplefit will also strengthen you up real good.
posted by ignignokt at 9:20 AM on July 12, 2008

Yes, you need to find some alternative method of weight resistance training in order to increase muscle mass.

1) any of the suggestions of using your own body as the weight: pushups, etc.
2) Buy a set of graduated weights and read up on how to use them: they're really fairly inexpensive
3) take up an awesome weekend hobby that depends on strength, such as rock climbing. Your arms get really strong when you have to be able to dangle 182 pounds from one hand!
posted by GardenGal at 12:45 PM on July 12, 2008

It's possible to build muscle without weights, and without doing a ton of reps. Just focus on doing bodyweight exercises that are more difficult than the normal 'pushups-crunches-squats' circuit. You won't need to purchase any equipment except a doorway chin up bar. Pullups are one of a few exercises I think are totally essential. But here are some suggestions for exercises that need no equipment (beyond the chin up bar) but are very difficult and will make you strong.

One handed pushups.
Dips (can be done between two sturdy chairs).
Handstand pushups.
Pistols (one legged squats).
Jumping squats (need a bit of a high ceiling, but don't require much space.

If you add a set of dumbbells to your equipment, you will increase the number of exercises available to you by an order of magnitude. A luxury if you can afford them, but totally not necessary. Just construct bodyweight workouts that contain enough work, and make sure each major muscle group gets a really difficult exercise thrown at it at least once a week.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:38 PM on July 12, 2008

Funny. In between my sets on hundredpushups I've been on here surfing and came across this posting. I just finished up week two and it really is quite an impressive program. Tomorrow I'm going to do the initial test again. My first time around I was at 28. I hope to be closer to 40 tomorrow.

I also have herniated discs in my lower back and need to strengthen my core to help alleviate future damage. Unfortunately situps cause my back more pain than they're worth so I did some research and picked up an Ab Glide. Its pretty much the wheel with two handles sticking out but it adds some resistance to allow ab exercises to be a little easier. I've made GREAT progress using it and it was only $20 on ebay!

Beyond that, I should pick up a set of dumbells to continue my at-home workout.Clearly it'll make the biggest difference.
posted by Thrillhouse at 4:53 PM on July 12, 2008

I'm all for push-ups in all it's variations, but please people be careful with these. You can easily get severe internal rotation of the shoulder joint due to imbalances in the muscles and you can easily end up with a torn Rotator Cuff. Whatever you do, try to do just as much pull as you do push.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:27 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older canis lupus whatisthis?   |   That cool and refreshing demon on my back Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.