Are you ready to get stronger, but don't want to deal with weights? With so much interest in strength training, you might wonder if there are ways to get stronger without working with barbells or dumbbells. You can still build strength without picking up a weight. Here are some ways to build strength without lifting weights.
Alternative Strength Training: Build Muscle Without Weights
Resistance bands are an easy way to build strength, flexibility, and endurance, and they're light enough to carry with you when you travel. These stretchable ropes have handles on either end to grab, and a loop in the middle where you can put your foot. Or you can use resistant loop bands (like those that were part of the October 2021 Actlive Life box). They come in all sizes and strengths, so you can increase the resistance as you get stronger.
Attaching a resistance band to a doorknob and using other modifications will allow you to do most dumbbell and barbell exercises. Resistance bands even offer advantages over dumbbells and barbells when it comes to building strength. By maintaining constant tension on your muscles throughout an exercise, your muscles work harder. Working with resistance bands is also safer than working with weights.
Even if you have no equipment, you can build strength using your own body weight. It might sound old school, but push-ups are still one of the best exercises for building upper body strength, and you can do them on any flat surface.
If you're just starting out and aren't strong enough to do one on the floor, place your hands on a table or bench, so you don't have to work as hard. The higher the bench, the easier the push-up will be. Gradually lower the height of the surface you rest your hands on when you get stronger. Once you can do 20 push-ups on a flat surface, make it harder by placing your hands closer together when you push up.
Other bodyweight exercises that will help you build strength include bodyweight squats, pull-ups, and tricep dips (among others shown on the "Get Fit" cards included in the January 2022 Actlive Life box). Once bodyweight squats are less of a challenge, do wall squats to build strength in endurance and strength in your glutes, quads, and calves.
Running at a moderate pace builds some lower body strength, but mostly increases muscular endurance. Sprinting takes it to a whole new level though. With sprinting, you can build muscle strength and size, burn body fat and get leaner. One way to get the benefits is to walk or jog at a leisurely pace for 30 seconds, and then break into a sprint for 30 seconds. Keep alternating back and forth between sprinting and letting your body recover. It's exhausting, but you'll develop greater lower body strength and power quickly with this routine.
Most people think of yoga as movements that increase flexibility and relax the mind, but power yoga can build strength. Power yoga classes are usually taught as Ashtanga yoga, a form of fast-paced yoga that builds arm and core strength. While power yoga alone can increase muscles strength and endurance, it's best to combine it with some form of strength training using bands or your own body weight. Otherwise, you'll eventually reach a strength plateau.
Many coaches use plyometric exercises to help athletes build strength, power, speed, and increase their vertical jump height. With a plyometric jump, there are three phases. In the eccentric phase, you lower your body toward the ground before you jump. Your muscles and tendons store energy during this phase. During the second, or amortization phase, the energy you store is stabilized in preparation for release. Finally, there's the concentric phase where you explode into the air, and your muscles and tendons release the energy they stored during the eccentric phase. By storing that extra energy, you can jump higher than you otherwise could.
One example of a plyometric exercise you can do at home is a squat jump. Lower your body down into a squat (the eccentric phase), pause, and then propel yourself into the air (the concentric phase). Other plyometric exercises include lateral hops, throwing a weighted ball against a wall, hopping, bounding, skipping rope, and box jumps. All these exercises build power, and since strength is a component of power, you'll become stronger by doing plyometric movements. Plus, jumping increases your heart rate and offers cardiovascular benefits.
The Bottom Line
You can get stronger without weights, but a balanced exercise program should include some form of resistance training. Now you know what the alternatives are to using dumbbells and barbells.
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Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise routine. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.