Home workouts to build muscle

First and foremost Happy new year! What’s your new years resolutions? The one that seems to come up often is, I would like to get in better shape, lose weight or gain weight and build muscle. Whatever it is you need to have a goal and take action! How can those of us who are interested in adding muscle to our frame do this? All the gyms are closed due to tier 4 restrictions. I am in London UK and this is the situation at the moment. The only option is to do home workouts to build muscle.

Don’t let closing of gyms be your excuse!

A lot of us tend to use the lock down as an excuse not to exercise but it should be the opposite, An excuse to exercise! Don’t let the closing of gyms be an excuse not to workout. Those of us who are interested in building muscle can absolutely achieve this without going to the gym. Think of it this way, if your stuck at home you can eat on time, workout more frequently and consistently. There are less demands placed on your body from the outside world so you can place more priority on building muscle. You don’t necessarily need heavy weights found in the gym to build muscle!

Here I am going to explain my exercise routine that can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Equipment needed:

  • 2 water bottles (2 liter or 1.5L)
  • A chair or bench
  • Exercise mat or soft floor (carpet)
  • Back pack with books or anything to provide weight

Monday (Chest, triceps)

Before you begin make sure you warm up for at least 5 minutes. Simple exercises could be jumping jacks or jogging on the spot.

Once the warm up is complete do dynamic stretches to prepare your body for the exercise session to follow. As we are going to be working out the chest it is vital to stretch the chest. The best exercise for this is the Standing dynamic pectoral stretch.

Standing dynamic pectoral stretch teaching points

  • Stand upright with feet hip-width apart
  • pull arms back into a press-up position
  • Push the arms forward while allowing the thoracic spine to round slightly
  • Repeat the above varying the angle of the arms.

Remember when doing this exercise not to hold the point of stretch for longer than 2 seconds, it’s a dynamic stretch meaning it’s movement based. Please watch the video below to get a better understanding on how to do the Standing pectoral stretch.

On to the main session

1) Wide press-up

2sets x 15 reps

Muscle groups worked during press-ups:

1. Pectorals (chest muscles)

2. deltoids (shoulders)

3.Triceps (back of arms)

4. Abdominals

Its similar to a standard press-up but your hands are placed wider than shoulder width apart. Aim for 10 to 15 reps or as many as you can do, give it your best shot. Take a 1-minute rest before than next set.

Watch the video below

2 )Diamond press-ups

2 sets x 10 -15 reps

In this variation of press-up your hands are close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch. A diamond shape will be formed between the two hands. As, above perform 10 to 15 reps taking a one-minute rest in between sets.

3) Weighted press-up

2 sets x 10 reps

This is a standard press-up but with load added to your back. You should be very careful when performing this exercise as you will have a rucksack on your back filled with books to add resistance to the exercise. Start of light and as the weeks go by your body will adapt to the exercise and you can start putting more load into your backpack. Only do this exercise if you are injury free and have the right technique.

Watch the video below

4) Single arm Tricep extension

3 sets x 15 reps

For this exercise we are going to use 1.5 to 2 liter water bottle to use as a weight. If this is to heavy have the bottle half full of water.

Single arm tricep extension teaching points:

  • Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart
  • Neutral spine, abdominal s engaged
  • Press water bottle overhead, elbows extended but unlocked, and shoulder away from ear
  • Bend elbow to lower water bottle under control to the rear of the head
  • Extend the elbow and press the water bottle back to the overhead position

In the video he will be using dumbbells, as we are home based we will be using a filled water bottle to provide resistance.

OK to finish off do some light cardio perhaps jogging on the spot for 5 minutes followed by a static stretch. I tend to do a standing pectorals stretch. Remember static stretches are those in which you hold a position for about 30 seconds.

Standing pectorals stretch teaching points:

  • Stand with arms raised level with shoulders, elbows bent and hands facing forwards, fingers towards ceiling.
  • Contract the upper back and middle shoulder blade muscles to draw arms backwards
  • Keep neck long and shoulders away from ears
  • Hold for appropriate duration.

Watch the video below


Wednesday (Back and biceps)

As before warm up to get your heart rate up and lubricate the joints in preparation for the exercise to follow. Choose your preferred exercise for example, jogging on the spot, jumping jacks or any other cardiovascular exercise. How about running up and down the stairs? Let me know your ideas in the comments below.

We will now do a dynamic stretch to move the joints through a full range of motion. Dynamic stretches are a functional and specific movements to be used before the sport or exercise. The stretch to be chosen prior to working out will be squat to overhead arm swing.

Squat to overhead arm swing teaching points

  • Squat down by bending at the ankles, knees and hips
  • Swings the arms down and back during the descent into the squat position
  • Keep the chest lifted though out
  • Return to standing position with arms stretched over head
  • Repeat

Muscles stretched

  • Quadriceps( front of leg)
  • Gluteus maximus (buttocks)
  • Latissimus dorsi (back)

Watch the video below to get a better understanding of the exercise

Now for the main session

1) Single arm rows

3 sets x 15 reps

For this exercise use one full water bottle to provide resistance and a chair or bench to provide stability as you will be resting your leg while performing the exercise.

Teaching points

  • Place the knee and the same side hand on top of the bench with hand under shoulder and knee under hip
  • Place freestanding leg level with kneeling leg, forming a tripod shape
  • Bend freestanding leg to lower body and pick up water bottle from the floor using free arm and hold under shoulder
  • Neutral spine, engage abdominal s
  • Raise the water bottle towards armpits with elbows close to the body, but without twisting the body
  • Lower until the arm is straight, elbow unlocked
  • repeat for desired repetitions

Muscles worked

  • Latissimus dorsi (back)
  • Posterior deltoids (rear shoulders)
  • Trapezius
  • Biceps brachi

Please watch the video below

2)Prone fly

3 reps x 15 sets

This works the upper back (rhomboids) and well as your rear deltoids (back of shoulders). For this exercise you will need two water bottles in each hand as you will be raising your arms out to the side.

Teaching points

  • Deadlift water bottles to side of thighs
  • Feet slightly wider than hips
  • Maintain neutral spine and engage abdominal s
  • Flex forward from the hip, dumbbells aligned under shoulder, palms facing inwards
  • Raise water bottles directly to the side until level with shoulders, elbows unlocked
  • lower under control

Muscles worked

  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior delts

3)Back extensions

2 Set 15 reps

Teaching points

  • Lying on your stomach (prone position), feet on the floor and hands at the sides of ears
  • Raise the shoulders and chest under control, keeping feet on the floor and head in neutral alignment
  • Lower to start position
  • Repeat for desired repetitions

Muscle groups worked

  • Erector spinae

4) Bicep curls

3 sets x 15 reps

This is one of my favorite exercises, who doesn’t want big bulging bicep! For this exercise you will need one or two water bottles. Depending on your preference you may want to work one arm at a time or both together.

Teaching points

  • Deadlift the water bottle to thigh using supinated grip, palms facing sky as though you are holding a can of soup from the bottom.
  • Foot stance wider than hips
  • Grip water bottle narrow to shoulder width, elbows tucked into side of body
  • Neutral spine and engage abdominal s
  • Curl water bottle towards the chest under control, pause at the top
  • Lower the bottle under control to the thigh
  • repeat for the other arm (only if doing single arm bicep curls)

Muscles worked

  • Biceps brachii

It is now time to do the cool down, select a low intensity cardio exercise than move on to static stretching. For this I have selected the Kneeling hip flexor and Latissimus dorsi stretch.

Kneeling hip flexor and Latissimus dorsi stretch teaching points:

  • Kneeling with one leg lunged forward
  • Hands stretched overhead
  • Tilt pelvis forward to stretch hip flexor
  • Reach arms back slightly
  • Hold for appropriate duration

Muscles stretched

  • Hip flexors
  • Latissimus dorsi

Watch the video below

Friday (Legs and shoulders)

You know the drill now so Let’s get started! Warm up guys and then the dynamic stretching. For this I have decided on squat to overhead arm swing (please refer to Wednesdays routine on how to do this exercise).

1)Backpack squats

3 reps x 15 sets

Get your backpack load it with books to provide resistance. As you get stronger you can add more weight.

Teaching points

  • Position rucksack in a comfortable position on your upper back
  • Feet hip width apart, abdominal s braced and neutral spine
  • Initiate squat by bending from hips and knees
  • Lower under control to comfortable range of motion
  • Knees in line with toes and heels to floor though out
  • Drive through thighs to lift upwards and breathe out through sticking point.
  • Repeat for desired repetitions

Muscles worked

Quadriceps (knee extension)

Hamstrings ( hip extension)

Gluteus maximus (hip extension)

Watch the video below


3 reps 15 sets

You can do this free weight or use the weighted backpack

Teaching points

  • Feet hip width apart, abdominal s braced and neutral spine
  • Stride one leg forward and lower body down under control into lunge position, with knee roughly at right angle
  • Heel of back leg lifts to allow the lunge action, trailing leg stays on off the floor
  • Knees inline with toes and front heel to floor throughout
  • Push through the thighs and drive away from the floor to lift upwards and return to start position
  • Repeat for desired repetitions

Lets move on to the cool down and the static stretches. Once your cool down cardio is complete I suggest you do a static stretch, the one I have chosen is standing quadriceps stretch. You can look into others also, this is one that is commonly used after working out the legs. This exercise can also be performed laying on your back and drawing in your knees towards the chest.

Teaching points

  • Stand upright
  • Raise one heel towards buttocks and hold ankle with hand of same side
  • Knee of standing leg points to the floor
  • Look forward, upright posture
  • Hold for appropriate duration

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I hope you liked my home workouts to build muscle. There are many alternatives and variations to the chosen exercises, as well as many household items that can be used to replace dumbbells. A summary of the exercises chosen is given below:

Monday (Chest and triceps)

  • warm up ( 5 – 10 minutes light cardio)
  • Standing dynamic pectoral stretch
  • Wide press-ups: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Diamond press-ups: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Weighted press-ups: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Tricep extensions: 3 sets x 15 reps

Cool down ( 5 minutes light cardio)

  • Standing pectoral stretch

Wednesday (Back and biceps)

  • Warm up 5 – 10 minutes
  • Squat to overhead arm swing 30 repetitions
  • Single arm rows: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Prone fly: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Back extensions: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Bicep curls: 3 sets x 15 reps
  • Cool down: 5 minutes
  • Kneeling hip flexor and Latissimus dorsi static stretch

Friday (legs and shoulders)

  • Warm up cardio 5 – 10 minutes
  • Squat to over head arm swing static stretch 30 reps
  • Back pack squats: 3 x 15
  • Lunges : 3 x 15
  • Cool down: 5 minutes
  • Standing quadriceps stretch: 30 seconds hold each leg