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Strength training without dumbbells


Simple movements like planks and push-ups can help you build muscle and get strong.

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When dumbbells, kettlebells and basically any kind of strength training equipment sold out shortly after lockdown, I felt secretly relieved. As someone who is attracted to cardio workouts, yoga and body weight exercisesI’ve always shied away from lifting weights. But as a fitness writer, I know how useful it is weight training and I’ve always felt obliged to do it more. When the pandemic hit, gyms closed, and weights sold out in the US and on the internet, I thought I had a solid excuse to continue with my weightless workouts.

Now weights are a bit easier to find, but I realized my workout routines weren’t completely without strength training. Even though I don’t think so, they include exercises that feel challenging and, using my own body weight, resistance bands, or even lighter weights, count completely as strength training.

To learn more about how to build muscle and get stronger without heavy weights or strength training equipment, I spoke with Nadia Murdock, a certified personal trainer and founder of Nadia Murdock Fit. Keep reading below to discover all the ways you can get stronger without a heavy barbell in sight.

Why strength training without weights?

Countless people have yet to get their hands on a set of dumbbells to use at home, which is one reason why people may opt for weightless workouts. There is also the intimidation factor, which is a real hurdle for people to overcome. “Lifting weights can be intimidating, especially when you’re just starting to exercise. A lot of people feel like they’ve lifted really hard to feel like they’re achieving something,” says Murdock.

In addition to the intimidation factor of lifting weights, there’s also the fact that weights are often an investment if you can find them. This “can be a deterrent for some people to even get started,” says Murdock.

Exercising with weights, especially heavy ones, is not for the faint of heart. Especially when you train at home, unless you know what you are doing, there is a real risk of injury.

“The risk of injury is certainly another reason why someone may shy away from lifting. If you don’t use a trainer or are unfamiliar with strength training, you can easily cause injury,” Murdock says.

If you forgo strength training out of necessity, preference, or other reasons, the good news is that you can still build strength with your own body weight, or with some other training methods like below.

Body weight exercises

Bodyweight workouts are no joke. You know this if you’ve ever done push-ups, planks, or pull-ups because they’re all super challenging moves that use your body’s own weight. “Using your own body resistance can be an effective way to build strength, especially if you are just starting out or on a budget,” says Murdock. “It’s important to note that when you exercise without weights, you have to exercise something else to see results,” she says.

For example, if you are exercising with lighter or no weights, you may need to add more reps and less rest time to challenge yourself. Remember, if the movement feels easy, it probably isn’t challenging you enough. Mastering regular bodyweight exercises (like the one below) is a good first step before moving on to more advanced moves or the same moves with added weight. Once you feel more confident in the basics, adding more weight will feel less intimidating, especially if you’ve never lifted weights or taken a long break from exercising.

The following moves below work on all the different parts of your body and you can adjust the intensity as you get stronger by increasing the number of reps and sets you do, with less rest or breaks in between.


“A traditional plank is an excellent workout that works just about the whole body, with an emphasis on the transverse abdomen and rectus abdominis,” says Murdock. “To intensify this movement, I like to add movement to this static exercise. Moves like plank jacks, mountain climbers, or hip drops can help you stay challenged.”

Russian twist

“[The Russian twist] works a lot of muscles, including obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, hip flexors, latissimus dorsi and erector spinae, ”says Murdock.[To intensify the move] try twisting by placing your feet on a table top, adding cross-body punches with each rotation or arm pulses overhead between each rotation. ”

Barre class

Barre classes may look easy, but trust me, they are far from it. Once you start working smaller muscles in isometric grips, you’ll feel sore in a way you never expected. “Barre is an excellent way to train smaller muscle groups often overlooked in traditional weightlifting / training. As a barre instructor, we focus on isometric exercises that are great for maintaining and building muscle strength,” said Murdock.

Even if you plan on lifting weights in the future, Murdock says barre classes can help you achieve success. “Many of the movements and exercises performed in class help to create a strong foundation for tougher workouts. Through these workouts you have a stronger connection between body and mind, which will also help perfect your form and enabling you to listen to your body, ”says Murdock.

If you can’t get to a barre studio right now, you can stream barre workouts at home with popular brands like Pure Barre, Xtend Barre on OpenFit, Barre3, Glo, and Alo Moves all offer barre workout classes. Most classes don’t require an actual ballet bar and you can use a chair or other stable surface instead of a bar. If you want to invest in a barre for your home gym, you can buy it online. Amazon sells a lot of barres under $ 150, like this one. If you want to invest more for a different aesthetic – Xtend Barre founder, Andrea Rogers recently launched custom home barre that comes in acrylic or metal finishes for $ 400.

If you’re not ready to subscribe to a streaming platform, YouTube is a great place to see what barre classes look like before committing to a subscription or paid app. The video below is a full 45 minute workout without equipment.

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are cheap, portable, and easy to find, making them a great addition to your home workout toolbox. “Resistance bands are an excellent option for building total body strength. Compared to weights, they provide constant tension on the muscles throughout the exercise, stimulating muscle growth,” says Murdock. While using bands is not necessarily better than using weights, the tension you get when working with a band is different than when using a dumbbell, which means challenging your muscles in a new way.

Whether you lift weights or not, resistance bands deserve a place in your workouts because they are simple and effective tools for training your muscles in new ways. You can constantly challenge yourself and progress with tires (such as weights) as you can buy tires with increased resistance and tension as you get stronger.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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