Top 5 Exercises to Gain Muscle and Burn Fat without Equipment
Have you begun to find it increasingly harder to motivate yourself to workout the longer we continue to live in this Covid-19 world? Do you miss the clanking of weights and barbells from the gym? Many people around the world have turned to new methods of building mass and burning fat during this pandemic, but it is hard sometimes to maintain that motivation when you don’t see the progress that you grew accustomed to.
Don’t be too discouraged though, you can still get quality workouts to burn fat and increase muscle from home with no equipment! Body weight workouts can be just as effective with taxing your muscles and producing the results you want! Here is my list of go-to bodyweight workouts!
Push-ups are a staple in my workout routine. Push-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises you can do and target a large variety of muscle groups. While push-ups primarily target your chest, they are also great to strengthen your shoulders, triceps, and core!
- Start by getting into a straight arm plank position with your hands flat on the ground and about shoulder width apart.
- Once set, begin to inhale, and lower your body to about an inch off the ground by bending your arms and keeping your back straight. If you can’t keep your back straight, lower your knees to the ground and conduct a modified version of the push-up. If you can’t maintain the proper form this may lead to injury and a modified version will allow you to practice proper form until you build the strength to conduct an un-modified push-up.
- Still maintaining a straight back, exhale and push your body back up to the starting position.
While push-ups can be difficult and push you to muscle failure all on their own, you can also increase the difficulty by incorporating negative sets to really tax your muscles and push them to grow! Negative sets would result in slowing the tempo that you lower your body, a three second negative would mean that each repetition should take you three seconds to lower your body before returning to the starting position.
If you read my article on low-impact cardio, then you already know how much I love the plank exercise. Planks are an extremely versatile exercise that target your core, arms, and shoulders! While planks may look easy, hold the position for a few seconds and you’ll quickly start to feel the burn!
- Your body position will alter slightly depending on the style of plank that you are doing. For this article, I will describe the forearm plank. Begin by bending your arms at a 90-degree angle and resting your forearms on the ground about shoulder width apart. You can either ball your hands up into fists or keep them flat on the ground. Think of this like you are getting into a push-up position on your forearms.
- Tighten your core and lift your hips while keeping your back straight.
- Hold this position as long as you can keeping your butt down and your back in a straight line!
There are several variations to the plank that will tone your body and have you sweating in no time! Check out my article on low impact cardio to try out my favorite plank circuit!
RELATED: Low Impact Cardio Exercises You Can Do at Home
Squats are a great lower body exercise to target multiple muscles in one movement! If done correctly squats will engage your quads, hamstrings, core, hips, and glutes! Squats are another staple in my workout routine, they can be done weighted or unweighted and still give you a killer burn!
- Begin with your feet shoulder width apart and your chest up. You want to make sure that you point your toes slightly outward and your heels firmly in the ground, this will prevent your knees from caving in.
- Begin to inhale and start your movement down. Keeping your chest up and back straight, bend your knees, tighten your core, and push your hips back. Imagine you are going to sit in a chair, this will help you push your hips back.
- Continue to go down until your legs reach 90-degrees, then drive through your heels and exhale as you stand back up.
- Push your hips forward at the top of the repetition to complete the movement.
- You can keep your arms closed or outstretch. The latter is known as sumo squat or wide squat.
Squats are a great way to build both muscle mass and explosive strength. They are also another great exercise to incorporate negative work if you need another challenge. You can take this a step forward and pause at the bottom to further the strain on your muscles to give yourself more of a challenge!
Squat with Weights / Dumbbell
You can also level up on the routine by including a dumbbell or two weights or with a barbell (with or without weights). When you are more confident, use the steps below to squat with weights:
- Carry the single dumbbell at chest height close to your body with both hands or two weights, one on each hand
- Again, begin with your feet shoulder width apart and chest up.
- Inhale and slowly lower yourself in a squatting motion, keeping your chest up and back straight as straight can be without falling over.
- Continue until your upper and lower legs form a 90-degree angle by pushing your hips back.
- Exhale as you rise up slowly, keeping the weights or dumbbell in the same position.
RELATED: Top 14 Best Home Gym Equipments to Take Your Workouts to the Next Level
If you want to continue working on your explosiveness while burning fat and building muscle, you need to jump onto the burpee bandwagon! Burpees are a total body workout that will have you engage your arms, shoulders, chest, glutes, hips, and legs! This full-body workout uses your body weight as resistance to increase your muscle mass while burning fat in a quick and efficient motion.
- Begin in a good squat stance with your chest up, back straight, and feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your hands in front of you with the palm of your hands laying flat on the ground about shoulder-width apart.
- Moving your weight to your hands, kick your feet back so that you can get into a good push-up position with your back straight.
- Keeping a good straight back, execute one push-up! I know there are some nay-sayers out there, but burpees include a push-up!
- At the top of the push-up position, kick your feet back to the starting position and stand up reaching your arms above your head.
- Jump into the air, thrusting your hips forward and land back into the starting position.
- Once you land back on your feet, quickly transition back into a good squat position, and do your next rep!
Not only will burpees help you burn fat and increase muscle, but they are also a great form of cardio. Burpees have many benefits to increasing your heart and lung health as well.
5. Bulgarian Split Squats
I’m rounding out this list with one of my absolute favorite exercises to build lower body strength. While I am technically cheating on this one, you don’t really need equipment to execute the Bulgarian split squat. You can do this in the comfort of your own home, all you need is a chair or anything really that you can prop your foot up on to!
- Stand about two feet away from a sturdy object that you can prop your back foot up on. Keep your your chest up, back straight, and feet about hips distance apart.
- Pick either foot that you’d like to start with and keep it firmly planted in front of you. Then place the other foot behind you. Lay the top of your foot flat on the bench and relax it. The purpose of your foot is merely to stabilize, you will not engage this back leg during the exercise.
- With your chest up and back straight, engage your core and bend your front leg at the knee while you squat down. Inhale as you lower your body and try to maintain an even balance of weight on your front foot.
- Once you’ve completed the rep, exhale and push through your front foot and stand back up.
- Once complete, switch your feet and repeat with your other leg.
I love the Bulgarian split squat because on top of targeting your quads, hips, glutes, and hamstrings as you would in a normal squat, the position for a Bulgarian split squat puts even more focus on your core. By executing the squat motion with one leg, you put a greater strain on your single leg and core to stabilize you as you squat down.
You can also level up on the Bulgarian Split Squats with dumbbells, weights or barbells.
It can be a challenge to increase muscle mass and burn fat with no equipment, but it is not impossible! With the right movements bodyweight exercises can truly push you to your limits and give you the results you want! Go ahead and give these exercises a try and you will not regret it!