Can You Gain Muscle and Strength Training At Home?
It’s a popular idea that training outside of a gym is primarily for weight loss and cardiovascular fitness.
In order to gain muscle or build strength, you must have to hit the gym, right?
Outside the gym, there aren’t any heavy weights or resistance machines. Surely these are necessary for muscle gain?
Let’s dive straight in and see if we can answer some questions (and hopefully bust some myths along the way).
What Affects Muscular Hypertrophy & Strength?
There are a couple of main factors to consider when it comes to increasing muscle and strength. These are:
The appropriate nutrition will remain the same, whether you are training in or out of a gym. Let’s keep this part nice and simple:
Eat in a calorie surplus for muscle gain.
Consume enough protein for muscle repair (0.8-1g per pound of bodyweight, per day).
The only exception to these points is if you are new to training, you may find you can gain muscle whilst in a calorie deficit.
So, it’s pretty safe to assume that diet is not a limiting factor when it comes to working out at home.
The second factor we mentioned was progressive overload. Let’s look at this one in a little more detail.
Progressive overload is the continuous and gradual increase of stress on your body.
In order to improve strength and continue to trigger muscular hypertrophy, essentially you must continuously make your exercise harder over time.
There are a number of ways in which we can do this:
1. Increase the weight for a specific exercise
With this one, there will be a limit to how far you can take this if you are training at home. You may be lucky enough to do this to begin with, however there will eventually become a point where this is no longer possible.
2. Increase the number of reps for a specific exercise
This one is definitely more appropriate for training at home. Increasing the number of repetitions won’t require you to have a large supply of equipment, but still allows for progressive overload.
You start your strength training exercise regime. At this point you can shoulder press an 8kg kettlebell for 8 reps.
You continue to train 3 times a week. Two weeks has passed and you can now shoulder press an 8kg kettlebell for 10 reps. You have successfully applied the principle of progressive overload. You have increased in strength.
3. Increase the difficulty of a certain exercise
There are often a number of ways you can make an exercise harder, without having to increase the weight. This could be a harder variation of an exercise, or an increase in time under tension.
Time under tension - i.e. the length of time your muscles are under stress - has room for progressive overload in itself.
For example, let’s take a squat:
You could progress onto a more difficult variation, such as an overhead squat.
You could also add in a pause to your squat, or try a tempo squat where you would increase the time your muscles are under tension during each repetition.
You could then progress the tempo squat from a 3s eccentric motion to a 5s eccentric motion.
Another example, the kettlebell shoulder press:
You could progress onto a bottoms up press, or a press in a lunge position.
Then slow down each rep; try a 3s concentric, 3s eccentric.
Slow it down further; 5s concentric, 5s eccentric.
So on and so forth…
As you can see, one exercise can hold great potential for progression - Even without increasing the weight or repetitions.
Are Home Exercises As Good?
Now, the other thing to consider is are there enough effective exercises for a full body workout that you can do at home with minimal equipment?
When I say effective, I mean good quality, safe and predominantly compound movements (using multiple muscle groups at once).
The real question here is:
Can we put our muscles under enough stress to result in muscular hypertrophy, without leaving the house?
Let’s split this into some sub categories and have a look at some examples:
Squat (regular, sumo, narrow)
Lunge (forward, reverse, jumping)
Kettlebell Swing (regular, single arm, staggered)
Bent Over Row
Rear Delt Raise
Thread The Needle
Not too bad for off the top of my head, eh?
All of these can be progressed with harder variations, without needing to increase the weight over time. They are all capable of stressing your muscles and with appropriate programming, will result in and increase in strength and muscle size over time.
There are thousands of bodyweight exercises out there you can do, and even more that only require minimal equipment such as a single kettlebell.
With this information, can we now answer our question?
Is it really possible to gain muscle and strength working out at home?
The simple answer is yes.
Although you may not always have the ability to increase the load on an exercise, there is still plenty of room for progressive overload. Training at a gym may be beneficial for some, but it is far from essential.
A lot of you may lack the spare time to go to the gym, or even have a gym nearby - So training at home can be a great option.
Bodyweight exercises are awesome and can be really effective, but to really get the most out of your workout, I would recommend incorporating a kettlebell or two.
I hope this has answered any questions you had, but if not - feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
If there are any other topics you would like me to go over, please let me know!
Thanks for reading!