4 Ways You Can Build Muscle Without Working Out

Muscular man drinking a protein shake

You can get ripped without stepping foot in the gym. | iStock.com

Some people really, really hate going to the gym. There may be any number of reasons that that’s the case — social anxiety, a general lack of knowledge about how to use the equipment, or maybe the costs are simply too much, or the drive is just too far. It’s tough. And anyone serious about a total fitness overhaul knows that it’s a big commitment, and one that you shouldn’t take lightly. For those who don’t have access to workout equipment, or simply want to start off slowly, what are your options? Well, if you simply want to lose weight, you can do a lot of damage with simple changes to your diet.

There are, however, ways you can “hack” your life to build some muscle without hitting the gym. It still takes effort, and it takes the right attitude. But it can be done. Just so long as you don’t expect the same kinds of results that you’d get from a serious weight lifting routine.

Where should you start? With these four changes.

1. Attack everyday tasks with intensity

Walking up stairs

Up the intensity of the things you do everyday. | iStock.com

If you want to skip the gym, you’ve got to find ways to exercise throughout the day. That means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, switching to a standing desk if you can, maybe walking or biking to work, etc. Basically, you need to up the intensity of the mundane things you’re doing every day. Look for opportunities to get some lifting in; start gardening or pick up heavy packages and carry them — whatever you can do to get the blood flowing. In order to build muscle, you need to exercise — so adding some explosiveness to otherwise slow, methodical movements will help you a bit with that.

2. Adopt some new hobbies

paddleboarding is a great form of exercise

Paddleboarding is a great form of exercise. | iStock.com

Since you don’t want to spend your leisure or spare time at the gym, you’ll need to burn calories and train your muscles doing something you do love. That means adopting a new hobby or two. Love the outdoors? Start taking vigorous hikes, or try paddleboarding. Play pick-up basketball or soccer. Just get moving. Physical activity is incredibly important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and you need to find a way to get the activity in. Again, the trick here is to exert yourself doing something you enjoy — rather than while you’re at the gym or fitness center.

3. Fix your diet to uncover what you already have

a man eating

Improving your diet can go a long way. | iStock.com

You’re not going to eat yourself into a muscular frame, but some changes to your diet may help you uncover what you already have. That’s the key here — removing that top layer of fatty tissue. That can be fixed and mitigated, to some extent, by changing your diet. You’re not going to be toning or building muscle tissue, but you can help what you have shine through. That takes some big changes to the average diet, but it’s definitely possible.

4. Sneak in some body weight exercises

Body weight exercise

You can’t completely go without exercise, do some pushups. | iStock.com

Just like you should be going after every mundane activity with an increased level of intensity, you’ll need to see where you can add some body weight exercises to your routine. Your muscles are going to grow with resistance — and if you don’t want to hit the weight racks, you can use gravity to help stimulate some growth. Try doing some squats when you’re by yourself in the elevator. Or do some planks while watching TV. There’s a million ways to incorporate these moves, and if you want to stay in shape without hitting the gym, you’re going to need to get the training in somehow.