Home training, Training

Building Muscle Mass at Home: Maximising Your Gains

Many of us look back fondly upon the days when we could head off to the gym with a group of friends and enjoy a hardcore workout session.  Unfortunately, this is far from reality at the moment.

The majority of gyms have been closed and in all truth, there is no certainty when they will open again.  While some will us this situation as an excuse to remain on the couch and binge on YouTube videos, others are looking to maintain their workout routines and to pack on lean mass during the interim.  Is this even possible?  

First and foremost, the simple answer to this question is a resounding yes.  However, the fact of the matter is that very few individuals will actually see results.  If anything, they will accomplish nothing more than maintaining their current lean body mass.  This brings up an important question.  What are some of the best ways to build muscle mass at home so you can return to the gym looking like Drago after he trained for Rocky IV?  Let’s take a look at some sure-fire strategies to employ.

All About Motivation

We mentioned Rocky IV in the last section, and for good reason.  You can never expect to grow if you do not possess the adequate level of motivation.  This is when discipline comes into play.  Create a set time on a daily basis that is solely devoted to training and do not deviate.  If possible, designate a specific room within your home for such sessions, as this can serve to compartmentalise your workouts from the remainder of the day (much like a standard gym).

Speaking of motivation, get personal.  One of the most impressive benefits associated with home-based training is that you are not restrained from the decorum of a typical gym environment.  Play your favourite music.  Hang pictures on the wall of the celebs who exhibit the body type that you are looking to achieve.  Talk to yourself out loud if it helps.  In other words, adding a decidedly personal touch to your training experience can make all of the difference in the world between remaining on a plateau and breaking through to the next level. 

Failure IS the Only Option

Let’s assume for a moment that you do not possess a massive amount of gym equipment in your home.  Let’s take this a step further and imagine that you possess NO equipment whatsoever.  How can you possibly gain mass without training heavy?  After all, low reps and high weight has always been the key to gaining lean mass, right?

Well, yes and no. We need to remember that our bodies become acclimated to routines over time.  This is why any professional athlete will modify his or her routine every few months in order to “shock” the body into additional growth.  This concept can be taken to the next level when training to failure. 

There are two main benefits with such an approach:

  1. Hypertrophy training is associated with little to no risk in regards to severe muscular injuries (such as a pectoral tear)
  2. You will also be involving the cardiovascular system. This will improve the health of your heart, increase lung capacity and burn more calories. 

Numerous studies have likewise  shown that high-intensity training can strengthen the heart and lower blood pressure over time.  This is why training to failure is an excellent idea.  Finally, your muscles will be undeniably shocked into growth. 

A Quick Look at Home-Based Exercises

Let’s now address the “meat and potatoes” of home-based training.  Assuming that you have nothing more than an empty room and motivation, what exercises can be performed in order to take your lean mass to the next level?  Here are some staple movements which have been used over the decades:

  • Push-ups of varying grips (chest, core and triceps)
  • Free or piston squats (quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes)
  • Between-chair dips and diamond-grip push-ups (triceps)
  • Chin-ups or water bottle curls (biceps)
  • Handstand presses, lateral raises with water jugs and overhead presses (shoulders and traps)

Let’s also not fail to mention that there are a host of abdominal exercises to throw into the mix if you are hoping to achieve a lean and tapered appearance.  Of course, the examples mentioned above are assuming that you have absolutely no equipment. Even a pair of light dumbbells can cause your muscles to scream for mercy if they are trained to repetitive failure. 

The bottom line is that a closed gym is no reason for your training regimen to be put on hold. A simple YouTube search will provide you with literally hundreds of videos which offer up additional tips and tricks (including dietary recommendations). Above all, look at this situation as an opportunity to return to the gym with shock and awe once the current situation comes to an end. Obtaining lean mass is always a possibility if you can learn to think outside of the box.

Written by:

Marcus Sühr
Marcus Sühr

Next generation personal trainer and co-founder of Trion