Not too long ago a young gentleman contacted me wanting to know if it’s possible to gain strength without using free weights or machines. He didn't have room in his budget to purchase gym equipment at the time and preferred to work out from home. My answer to his question was, “Yes, of course you can!”
When a muscle is consistently placed under tension, it’s going to get bigger and stronger. This can be accomplished using bodyweight movements. Exercises such as push-ups, explosive jump-squats, pull-ups, tricep dips, and sit-ups are great because they still involve moving loads that are large enough to put your muscle fibers through some serious work. The key is to push your body through several sets and reps until they feel moderately uncomfortable.
Another big point of emphasis that we discussed was range of motion. It can be quite difficult to strengthen or grow a muscle without maintaining good technique. For example, to build a solid upper body frame with push-ups, the arms need to stay shoulder-width apart, your chest needs to touch the floor, then the arms should finish in a fully extended position. Neglecting to meet these movement standards will produce negative results and can lead to serious injuries.
If you are unable to execute the movement correctly, try modifying to a less demanding position and build your work capacity from there.
I always encourage people to lift weights like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells and other free-weights objects that challenge the body’s ability to get stronger – but not everyone has access to this type of equipment. And if you don’t, there is no need to feel discouraged. Mixing up your strength routine using bodyweight exercises is extremely effective.
Clear time out of your busy schedule to meet with a trainer who is knowledgeable and understands strength and conditioning concepts. Also, be sure to eat plenty of protein, carbs, and healthy fats to help you stay productive and reach your goals. Good luck and keep working your way to the top!