Building Muscle at Home
Updated: Jan 10
When the closure of gyms and studios due to COVID-19 hit Canada, something I often heard was “I’m going to lose all my muscle if I can’t go to the gym!” Without access to heavy machines, dumbbells and barbells, how are you supposed to build muscle, let alone maintain the muscle tone you already have?
Now, no matter what your health and fitness goals are, having a higher lean mass (aka muscles and bones) and a lower fat mass is an extremely important indicator of overall health. Strong bones and muscles will allow for longevity into our old age, and limiting the amount of excess fat our body carries is important for many vital bodily functions. So if your personal fitness goals aren’t to necessarily to lift heavy weights and gain large muscles that you can flex like Popeyes, it is still important to maintain a healthy muscle mass.
If your goals are to keep the strong muscles you have or to gain muscle mass, there is some good news. Even without access to a wide variety of equipment at the gym, you can maintain muscle tone at home, and even increase it! Through body weight resistance, different styles of workouts and learning how your body works, you can grow strong muscles from the comfort of your own home.
As someone who has been lifting weights for years and takes pride in seeing the numbers on my dumbbells and barbells increase, gym closures and moving to a home gym was a small, but manageable transition for me. I went from having my pick of any weight, to choosing between 7lbs dumbbells or 15lbs kettlebells. What many people don’t realize, is that even with low weight, or no weight, we actually can work our muscles to exhaustion and bring them to the point where our muscle fibres will continue to grow and become stronger with each workout.
Here are a few different considerations when trying to maintain or build strength when working out from home.
1. Low weight + high reps, or high weight vs. low reps? The truth is – it doesn’t matter.
Many studies and recent research have found that you do not actually need heavy weight to see results in your strength. You could be squatting 235lbs on your back for 1 rep or squatting your body weight for 50 reps and still potentially see similar results. As long as you are working your muscle to failure, or near failure, you will be allowing for enough stress on those muscles for them to activate pathways that will allow for muscle building results.
2. Tempo and time under tension. These may sound a little technical, however tempo training is easily achievable at home. All this means, is that by slowing down the motion of our exercises and adding pauses and pulses, we are creating more tension in that muscle and placing that muscle under more stress. The more stress it is under, the more muscle fibres will need to re-build and come back stronger than they were previous to that workout. Let’s say you don’t have any gym equipment at home, but you want to build leg strength. Try adding a 3 second pause at the bottom of each squat, and feel the burn start to hit more quickly than it would without that hold.
3. Choose a variety of workouts. This is where Cloud comes in. Our bodies are amazing in the sense that they can quickly adapt to the stress we put them under. That means if you repeat the same workout over and over again, it will no longer be challenging for you and you will see a decline or plateau in your results. By trying new exercises, different timing and tempos for your exercises or alternating between circuit style training (to a timer) vs. reps and sets, you will actually be challenging your body constantly. Cloud Fitness is a great way to incorporate different training styles into your routine and learn new exercises that will constantly keep you on your toes!
So the next time someone tells you that you need to lift heavy weights to get stronger, or that you can’t build muscle without added resistance (weights other than your own bodyweight) you can prove them wrong with the strong muscles you built from the comfort of your own home.
Everyone’s goals are specific and different, but no matter what your goal Cloud Fitness has a class for you to help build strong, healthy muscles. Check out our variety of classes and remember – always reach for the clouds!