Not everyone likes going to the gym when they’re trying to build muscle and strength. Some people feel as though they’re ‘on show’ while they’re learning new tecniques, which isn’t fun, while other people feel overwhelmed with the loud music and lack of personal space. I completely get it!
The good news is that you do not need the gym in order to build strength and muscle. You absolutely can do it at home, with no judgemental eyes watching, and still get outstanding results.
Here are my top 5 tips to effectively build muscle and strength at home.
1. Use Compound Exercises
Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. An example is the squat, which works quadriceps, glutes, and calves all in the one movement. An even better compound exercise is a squat that includes a bicep curl as part of the movement (note that a bicep curl on its own is an isolation exercise, which is the opposite of a compound movement as it only works a single muscle group at a time).
The biggest benefit of compound exercises is that you really maximise your time, meaning you’ll build strength and muscle quicker than you would doing a whole bunch of isolated exercises. Compound exercises also burn more calories, since they get your heart rate up higher. A nice added bonus!
2. Use Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is just what it sounds like! It’s when you gradually increase the weight in your strength training routine in order to challenge (i.e. ‘overload’) your muscles. This leads to your body getting stronger.
Progressive overload is a really effective way to strength train. As you can imagine, if you show up to your workouts using the same weight over and over again, you may get somewhat fitter (and movement is good for your health no matter what), but you probably aren’t getting any stronger.
The thing to watch out for with progressive overload is that you’re not trying to get results too quickly. You need to be consistent with your strength training and to make sure you’re only increasing your weights when you’re ready. As an example, this means you might consider increasing the kilos in small increments every month, but not every week!
3. Use Lower Rep Ranges
For optimal strength increases, research shows that low reps with heavy weight is the best option. That’s not to say that lower weights with higher reps won’t still get some strength results (it will, and mixing things up is always good), but lower reps with higher weights will build your strength in a quicker amount of time.
Ellite performers keep these basics in mind depending on their goals:
- For strength – under 6 reps is ideal
- For hypertrophy (an increase in growth of muscle cells) – 6-15 reps
- For endurance – 15+ reps
On that basis, those wanting to build strength spend the majority of their time lifting very heavy weight for low reps. Please remember to never go so heavy that you lose proper form.
4. Incorporate Unilateral Exercises
If you want to be stronger, you have to correct muscle imbalances. Having one arm or one leg stronger than the other will not only stop you from getting as strong as possible, but also the stronger body part can start to compensate for the weaker one, making you more out of balance!
Using unilateral exercises such as one arm rows, lunges, and one arm squat to presses, are excellent exercises that will identify your weak spots and balance out your strength.
5. Vary Your Strength Training Techniques
It really pays not to stick to the one thing when it comes to your strength training. Don’t be afraid to mix things up every now and again to shock those muscles a little bit, because that’s when the growth happens! You can try different things like supersets, pyramid workouts, tri-sets and more. Check out my blog, ‘How to Mix Up Your Strength Training‘, for my ideas.
Let me know your favourite strength training technique, and make sure you record (and celebrate) your gains!