Strength Training at Home: How to Build Muscle When the Gym is Not an Option
By Morgan Bernard
For the last two years, many regular gym goers have foregone their usual training grounds for home gyms, outdoor workouts, and at home bodyweight routines. In the exercise world, there’s a common misconception that building muscle takes heavyweights. In reality, building muscle doesn’t require a fancy weight room, heavyweight, or the latest workout tech. All you need to put on a bit of muscle is your own body weight and an ample amount of time and dedication. When the pandemic began, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to maintain my usual fitness level using just my body weight, four walls, and the outdoors. I found that with a little creativity, I was able to not only maintain a solid base level of strength and fitness but put on some of the muscle that I had lost while traveling. If you’re interested in building muscle without a costly gym membership, continue reading below for Strength Training at Home: How to Build Muscle When the Gym is Not an Option.
Understanding how muscle is built
The first step of strength training at home is to develop an elementary understanding of how to build muscle. Building muscle isn’t just about putting in hours at the gym and consuming nausea-inducing amounts of protein, it’s about pushing your muscles past their limit and recovering properly. Originally, it was thought that muscle fibers had to be pushed to the point of tearing for them to build back stronger and grow, now we know that’s not always the case. To build muscle, you must activate your muscles to the point where they achieve a metabolic state and begin to break down. Afterward, when you ingest protein, your muscles will enter a catabolic state and recover bigger and stronger than before. Science has proven that muscle fibers do not need to tear to achieve this metabolic process. Instead of pushing past your breaking point, utilize the trusted method of Time Under Tension (TUT).
What is Time Under Tension, and how can I implement it into strength training at home?
Time Under Tension is a trusted strength-building method that athletes have used for decades to build and keep muscle. The phrase Time Under Tension refers to the amount of time your muscles are under tension, typically from weight. In a typical bench press rep, the Time Under Tension is short, maybe a second or two. If we slow the rep down and increase our Time Under Tension to six to eight seconds, your muscles further break down. By forcing our muscles to work harder, we optimize muscular strength, endurance, and growth. While it may be assumed that Time Under Tension training requires weights, that’s not always the case. Instead of focusing on tension from weight, increase your time under tension by altering the tempo and pace of your bodyweight exercises.
Bodyweight Tempo Training
If you’re stuck at home without proper weights, Tempo Training will take your workouts to the next level. When it comes to strength training at home, it’s easy for workouts to get repetitive and boring. After all, you can only do so many pushups. Tempo Training will add some much-needed excitement to your at home strength training while also introducing the highly effecting Time Under Tension concept to your gym-free strength training sessions. Tempo Training allows you to take a relatively simple movement, like the pushup or bodyweight squat, and slow it down or speed it up to make it more challenging. If you’re training explosiveness, speed up the ascent portion of each rep and focus on firing your fast-twitch muscles. If you want to build strength, perform long, drawn-out negative reps and mid-rep holds to increase your Time Under Tension. If you’re unsure exactly how to implement Tempo Training into your at home strength training routine, start with the simple pushup complex. Take 5 seconds to lower yourself down, pause for five seconds at the bottom of the rep, and take 5 seconds to complete the rep to the top. Knockout 5 reps in 5 sets with rest in between. Like all aspects of fitness, Tempo Training can be scaled to your personal level of fitness. Start with something easy and build to more complex movements and routines. As always, make sure you recover properly by ingesting protein within 30-45 minutes after exercise.
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