How to Build Strength and Muscle with Minimal Equipment

How to Build Strength and Muscle with Minimal Equipment

Is a lack of equipment keeping you from attempting to pursue your goals? The truth is, you can increase your strength and improve your body with very little (if any) investment. Read on to find out more.


The cheapest and most easily available equipment you have to build strength and muscle is your own body weight.

Pull ups: one of the best exercises for the back and shoulders.

A lot of people tend to think of body weight exercises (a.k.a. calisthenics) as a tool to mostly increase endurance, but you can build some serious strength if you approach your workouts appropriately.

The tricky part about calisthenics is being able to continuously put a stimulus on the body that encourages growth (progressive overload).

For example, once push ups get too easy (around 15+ reps or so), you’re not going to see much results in the way of strength or muscle unless you can make the exercise more difficult.

Unless your body is challenged, it isn’t very inspired to change.

This is why you have to get creative and put your body in a less advantageous position whenever an exercise gets too easy.

Continuing with push ups as an example, once you can do sets of 15, you can place your feet up on something to make them even harder. Eventually, you could progress to pike pushups, and when those get too easy, elevate your feet once again…slowly working up to being able to do one of the most advanced pressing exercises, handstand pushups!

It is worth noting that it will take longer to build muscle with calisthenics than it would with barbells, but it’s still vastly better than nothing at all.



Looking for a beginner calisthenics workout? Check out this video by the Calisthenicskingz:




With dumbbells, increasing the stimulus on your muscles as the exercises get easier is more simply achieved because you can just increase the weight of the dumbbells.

The downside to this is that dumbbells are not cheap, and you can quickly amass a bunch of them to adequately stimulate your body in various exercises.

That being said, they are an amazing tool to get into shape, and you can often find great deals on craigslist.

Dumbbells keep you honest as can they can reveal (and fix) weak points / imbalances in your strength.

They also allow you to start with less weight than you would be able to with a barbell (standard barbells start at 45lbs) so that you can build up to using barbells in the future.

Want to learn more? Check out this site which has a workout template and full description of exercises.



The kettlebell is an incredibly effective piece of equipment that has been used to develop strength for centuries. Research can attest to how effective kettlebells are for training:

“The findings indicate that kettlebell training provides a measurable improvement of strength, power, and endurance as measured by barbell and body weight exercises and suggests that kettlebells can be used as an effective method for improving fitness and is not restricted to either highly skilled or elite level athletes. The results suggest that due to the positive translation of kettlebell training to that of Olympic lifts, the use of kettlebells as a training implement is an excellent alternative to traditional weight lifting.” – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (January 2010)

In short, training with kettlebells will make you better at lifting weights and you don’t have to be an experienced athlete to benefit.

The downside is that kettlebell movements are ballistic in nature and there is real potential to hurt yourself if you go “all in” too quickly or fail to take the time to learn the exercises correctly. There is also the need to be more mindful of your surroundings as swinging iron can be dangerous to the people around you…or your flat screen.

If you would like to learn more about kettlebell training, I could not recommend Pavel Tsatsouline enough. He is considered the man responsible for the kettlebell being popularized in the United States, and has taken care to fully lay out kettlebell technique in various books and DVDs.

To give you an idea of what a beginner kettlebell workout would look like:

In Conclusion

Whether you use your own body weight, dumbbells or kettlebells, having to work out at home or being without a gym does not mean that you are destined for being weak and out of shape.

There is no reason why you can’t achieve the body of your dreams with minimal expenses.  Any of these methods of exercise (or  a combination of them) can help you to reach your goals…and even prepare you for lifting in the future.

I hope you found this helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading guys, catch you in the next article.


Posted by Lady J

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