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How to Become Stronger Without Weightlifting

by Rachel Leal
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I was secretly relieved when dumbbells, kettlebells, and virtually all other forms of strength-training equipment sold out in stores shortly after the pandemic began. As someone who prefers aerobic activities, yoga, and body-weight exercises, I have always avoided weightlifting. As a fitness writer, I am aware of the benefits of strength training and have always felt compelled to engage in it more. When gyms closed and weights were sold out across the United States and the internet, I believed I had a good reason to continue my weight-free workouts.

Now that gyms are accessible and weights are readily available, I noticed that my workouts were not entirely devoid of strength training. Even though I don’t think of them as strength training, they include movements that feel difficult and include the use of my own body weight, resistance bands, or even lesser weights.

I spoke with Nadia Murdock, certified personal trainer and CEO of Nadia Murdock Fit, to learn more about how to grow muscle and increase strength without using heavy weights or strength-training machines. Continue reading to discover all the ways you may get strength without lifting weights.

Why should strength training be performed without weights?

Numerous individuals lack a set of dumbbells for usage at home, which is one explanation why they may choose for weight-free workouts. Intimidation is also a significant obstacle for individuals to overcome. “It might be scary to lift weights, especially if you are new to exercising. Many individuals believe they must lift really big weights to feel as though they have accomplished anything “says Murdock.

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In addition to the intimidating nature of weightlifting, weights are frequently an investment. Murdock states that this “may be a disincentive for others to even get started.”

Weight training, especially with big weights, is not for the faint of heart. And unless you know what you’re doing, there is a significant danger of damage while exercising at home.

“Certainly, the possibility of injury is a further reason why someone would avoid lifting. Without a trainer or familiarity with weight training, it is easy to sustain an injury “Murdock explains.

If you choose not to lift weights due to need, preference, or other factors, the good news is that you may still gain strength utilizing your own body weight and a number of different workout approaches, such as the one described here.

Bodyweight workouts

Bodyweight exercises are not a joke. You are aware of this if you have ever performed push-ups, planks, or pull-ups, since these are all extremely difficult exercises that utilize your own body weight. “Using your own body resistance may be an excellent approach to increase strength, especially for beginners or those on a budget,” explains Murdock. “When working out without weights, you must train significantly differently in order to get results,” she explains.

For instance, if you are exercising with smaller weights or none at all, you may need to add more repetitions and less rest time in order to increase the difficulty. Remember that if the action feels effortless, you’re probably not being challenged enough. Before progressing to more advanced routines or the same actions with increased weight, it is a good idea to master basic bodyweight exercises, such as the ones listed below. Once you feel more comfortable with the fundamentals, adding additional weight will feel less frightening, especially if you’ve never lifted weights before or if you’ve had a lengthy vacation from exercising.

You may modify the intensity of the following exercises as you gain strength by increasing the number of repetitions and sets you perform with less rest or pauses in between.

“A traditional plank is an excellent workout that works just about the entire body, focusing on the Transverse Abdominis and the rectus abdominis,” says Murdock. “To intensify this move I like to add movement to this static exercise. Moves like plank jacks, mountain climbers or hip drops can help to keep you challenged.”

Barre class

Barre courses may appear simple, but trust me, they are everything but. Once you begin training smaller muscles with isometric holds, you experience a previously unanticipated level of soreness. “Barre is a wonderful method for exercising smaller muscle groups, which are sometimes neglected in conventional weight lifting sessions and training. As barre instructors, we emphasize isometric movements, which are excellent for maintaining and enhancing muscular strength “Murdock explains.

Even if you want to lift weights in the future, says Murdock, barre courses will help you succeed. “Many of the motions and exercises done in class serve to build a solid foundation for weight bearing activities with greater intensity. These activities will strengthen the link between your mind and body, allowing you to refine your form and listen to your body “Murdock explains.

If you are unable to travel to a barre studio, you may stream barre exercises at home from famous brands such as Pure Barre, Xtend Barre on OpenFit, Barre3, and Alo Moves. You may substitute a ballet barre with a chair or other stable surface for the vast majority of courses. If you’re interested in purchasing a barre for your home gym, you may do it online. Amazon has several barres for under $150, including this one. If you’re willing to pay extra for a new appearance, Xtend Barre founder Andrea Rogers has just introduced a $400 bespoke home barre available in glass or metal.

If you’re not quite ready to subscribe to a streaming service, YouTube is a wonderful location to sample barre classes before committing to a premium subscription or app. The video below is a 45-minute exercise that requires no equipment.

Resistance bands

Resistance bands are affordable, portable, and readily available, making them excellent complements to at-home exercise equipment. “Bands of resistance are a great alternative for developing total-body strength. Unlike weights, they provide consistent strain on the muscles during the whole workout, hence promoting muscular growth “Murdock adds. While utilizing bands is not inherently superior to using weights, the strain you experience while exercising with a band is different from when using dumbbells, so presenting your muscles with a fresh challenge.

Whether or whether you presently use weights, resistance bands should be incorporated into your exercises since they are easy and effective tools for working your muscles in novel ways. You may continually grow and push yourself using bands (like weights) since you can purchase bands with increasing resistance and tension as your strength increases.

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