A man lifts dumbbells at home.
Centr Team

You can still build muscle at home – here’s how

Centr Team

If lifting weights to build muscle is part of your fitness regimen, you may have been left scratching your head for the past few months: how are you supposed to build muscle at home, without access to a gym?

Real talk: it is harder, but all is not lost. While your routine and the pace of your results will undoubtedly change during this time, you can still effectively build and maintain muscle when you’re stuck at home – and Centr muscle-building expert Torre Washington is here to show you how.

The same principles of consistency and repetition remain, you may just need to adapt and work differently. So, let’s talk through your home training options:

  • Get creative with equipment you have at home. You may not realize it, but you already have some handy exercise equipment just lying around the house – a sack of potatoes, a family-sized bottle of laundry liquid, milk bottles filled with water. You may have to go through a bit of trial and error to find the right substitute or anchor point and so on, but you’ll get there.
  • Before you reach for a substitute exercise, go through the movement and think about what muscles you’re using in the process – this will help you modify and find suitable equipment.
  • Safety first. If you’re not sure something will hold your weight or that makeshift equipment will remain intact, best look for another alternative.
  • If you have a resistance band (or if you can get one), you can get a lot done with this one piece of equipment and your own body weight. Take it from Torre...

To keep you powering through whether you have the equipment or not, try these extra home alternative ideas for gym-based strength exercises.

Rows i.e. shotgun rows, horizontal lat rows, cable rear delt rows

For rows using a cable machine, sub in a resistance band. Rows targeting different muscles, such as horizontal lat rows, could be replaced by dragging weighted objects (just make sure hard floors are protected!) or a suspension trainer, but again resistance bands can be used to replicate most movements. And you can always hit up your dumbbells to perform renegade rows, single-arm rows and bent over rows.

Presses i.e. leg presses, calf press, chest press, seated shoulder press

For those presses that use your legs – resistance band squats are going to be your new best friend! Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hook one end of the resistance band under your feet and the other end across the back of your neck and shoulders, holding the band so it forms a square across the top of your shoulders. Then get squatting! No band? You can also add weighted squats and calf raises into your regimen.

For presses using your arms that work your chest, back, and shoulders, switch to dumbbell flys, floor presses or overhead raises. You can also anchor a resistance band around your shoulders then, using a split stance, push outwards against the band as if you are pressing forward or punching. You can also hook a band under your feet and, standing upright, press the other end above your head.

Flys i.e. incline cable flys, cable crossovers

Stick with dumbbell flys – and use a chair, cushions, or Swiss ball to replicate incline or seated positions. You can also loop two light resistance bands around a post or solid sofa leg and (with your back to the post) walk forward until you have the right resistance to perform a band fly.

Curls i.e. cable bicep curls, one-legged cable curls, single-arm overhead bicep curls

Keep curling with dumbbells and mix it up between hammer, Zottman, bench curls, and so on. If you don’t have dumbbells, loop light/medium bands around your feet and holding the bands in your hands, curl upwards against the resistance.

Pull-ups & Pulldowns i.e. seated lat pulldowns, neutral grip pulldowns, chest supported lat pulldowns, pull-ups

Grab your dumbbells to perform overhead raises, bent over rows, renegade rows or front raises and overhead tricep extensions.

Remember, think creatively, stay active and committed.


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