Growing Muscle and Losing Fat Without Going to the Gym
Sometimes getting to a gym is impossible because of financial or time constraints. It is still possible to build a great physique without hitting the gym.
Building a great physique certainly takes time and planning, and many people would consider it impossible without spending hours in the gym. However, many people, from professional athletes to middle-aged weekend warriors, have forged lean, muscular physiques without the gym. Whether time or money is the problem, there are solutions to building muscle and losing fat without a gym membership.
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Losing Fat Without Going to the Gym
Losing fat without setting foot in a gym is a fairly straightforward challenge. There are only two rules for burning fat.
- Create a caloric deficit.
- Weight train to preserve or increase muscle mass.
Traditional cardio doesn’t even have to be part of the equation, although it will make the process faster and easier. Part one here is straightforward. There is only one scientifically proven nutritional weight loss method that works, and this is to eat fewer calories than are needed for maintenance. How this is done is a matter of personal choice, although a method like intermittent fasting offers various health benefits and easing the psychological side of dieting. As long as calories are not meeting calories needed, weight loss will result. Another nice trick here is to load up high fiber, high water content foods such as fruit and vegetables that will increase satiety while not overly increasing calories.
The second part of this equation, weight training, is not often associated with dieting but is key. Increasing or at least maintaining muscle mass allows the body to burn more calories at rest. It also encourages good nutrient partitioning. It means that food is used for building and repairing rather than stocked as fat.
Cardio can be done as often as desired. Some easy options are:
- long-distance running
- hill sprints
- repeat 400-meter sprints
- farmer’s walks (using bags of rocks, for example)
- high rep bodyweight circuits
- high rep Hindu squats
Bodybuilding Without the Gym
It is here that most gym rats get stuck. How is it possible to make progress without going to a gym? There are two choices here.
- Build a home gym.
- Use bodyweight exercises.
Building a home gym might seem like an expensive option, but can be an enormous saving of both time and money in the long run. Second-hand equipment can be had cheaply. It is easy to do an extremely productive routine like the 5×5 program with nothing more than a basic rack and bench and a cheap barbell.
For those who don’t want to go to the expense of setting up a home gym or looking for a short-term solution, perhaps while on holiday or between gyms, bodyweight training is a great alternative. Unfortunately, bodyweight training has often been seen as too easy or only for beginners. The truth is, bodyweight training can be as tough as desired. Doing one-legged pistol squats is beyond the limits of many 500lb squatters and will build a lot of muscle.
Bodyweight exercises also let a trainer use two key variables for growth, which are sometimes ignored, volume and frequency. Doing an exercise at home means it can be done very regularly, even several sessions a day. Here is an example of a bodyweight-only session that will force hypertrophy.
- one-legged pistols (3 sets of as many reps as possible each leg)
- bodyweight walking lunges (3 sets of 50 meters)
- One-legged deadlift (3 sets of 20 each leg)
- 100 press-ups (as fast as possible)
- 50 chips (as fast as possible)
- Handstand press-ups (2 sets of as many as possible)
Doing this session every day for 15-20 days straight will certainly lead to some hypertrophy and facilitate further gains when back in the gym.
Being gymless is no reason to forgo training. Anything that is hard work is going to be good as long as the diet is in order. The absence of imagination is the only limiting factor.