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7 Best Exercises for Men to Gain Muscle Without Equipment

Build muscle with these bodyweight exercises at home.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

When it comes to developing an incredible male physique, building muscle is a huge priority. This is especially true if you tend to be on the smaller side or struggle with a "skinny-fat" build. Simply put, you need muscle on your frame ‌before it's worth trying to lose a ton of weight. If you're not sure where to begin, keep reading for seven of the best exercises for men to build muscle without equipment.

Gaining muscle requires you to exert force against external resistance. Although most traditional muscle-building programs involve using weights and other equipment, you can gain muscle with bodyweight exercises at home or near where you live, especially if you are new to working out. The most important thing for building muscle with bodyweight exercises is finding ways to make the exercise more difficult over time.

In this article, I'll go over my seven top bodyweight exercises for men to build muscle. With each one, I'll give you a few tips on how to make it more challenging depending on your current level. Perform three to five sets of each exercise using a position that causes failure by 15 total repetitions.

And next up, don't miss 7 Most Important Exercises for Men To Build Muscle.



fit man in high plank, getting ready to perform pushups

Pushups are an amazing bodyweight exercise. They work your shoulders, chest, triceps, and core with no equipment and allow a variety of progressions.

To perform a standard pushup, start in a plank position and lower your chest and body toward the floor by bending at your elbows and shoulders while maintaining a braced core. When your body is about an inch off the ground, drive through both hands to return to the top position.

To make them more difficult, you can move your hands closer together or shift your body forward while keeping your hands in place to decrease the leverage and increase the muscular difficulty. Finally, advanced individuals can work towards a one-arm push-up.


Air Squats

muscular man doing air squats

Squats are a must-do exercise for muscle size in your lower body. Standard squats start with your feet hip-width distance apart. Sit back, and lower your hips by bending at the waist and knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. At the bottom of your squat, drive through both feet to return to the starting position.

To make the exercise more challenging, you can add a jump at the top of each repetition or carry some external weight such as a backpack.

RELATED: 5 Exercises Men Should Avoid To Regain Muscle, Expert Says



mature man doing lunges

Lunges are another great lower body exercise to build muscle in the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Perform a lunge by stepping forward with a large step and lowering your whole body by dropping your back knee toward the floor. When your knee is an inch off the floor, press through the front foot to return to the starting position.

To make the exercise more challenging, perform an explosive jump between each repetition, or elevate your front or rear foot on a step.



muscular man doing pull-ups

Pull-ups technically require equipment since you need somewhere to hang onto and pull yourself up. Play structures or public parks often have suitable bars for pull-ups.

Using an overhand or underhand grip, hang from a bar and pull your chest to the bar by bending at the elbows and shoulder.

You can make pull-ups more difficult by changing grip variations, increasing speed on the upward movement while slowing the downward movement, or by adding external weight.

RELATED: The Best Arm-Strengthening Exercises for Seniors



fitness man sprinting on track, demonstrating exercises for men to build muscle

Believe it or not, performing all-out sprints and similar training builds muscle in the lower body similar to resistance training. You can also progress fairly easily by increasing your speed or distance covered in each sprint. I recommend starting with 40-meter sprints and performing five to 10 total sprints per workout.


Single-Leg Squats

man doing single-leg squat

Performing a squat on one leg, sometimes called a "pistol squat," is challenging. However, it allows you to put your entire body weight on a single leg, drastically increasing your ability to continue to build muscle in your legs after regular squats become too easy to properly stimulate further muscle growth.

Begin this exercise standing, and straighten one leg out in front of you. Lower your body by bending the planted leg, keeping your other leg extended the whole time. At the bottom, push through your planted foot to return to the top position.


Handstand Pushups

muscular man handstand, exercises for men to build muscle

At the end of my list of the best exercises for men to build muscle without equipment is handstand pushups. I'm going to be honest: These are beyond the reach of most individuals. However, if you progress to the point where you can perform this exercise, they are a very effective way to build muscle in your chest and shoulders.

Start in a handstand, and lower your chest and face toward the floor. When you reach the bottom, press through both hands to return to the top position.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler