T Nation

Bulking Without Weights


Can this be done, or is it damn near impossible? I'm poor right now, can't afford a gym membership, and want to put on weight and muscle mass (I know there's inherent fat gain too, I'm not scared).


You will not be able to put on any muscle without weights and working out. If you begin to bulk without lifting all you are doing is over feeding and getting fat. But, good luck any way!!!


Only if you wish to bulk your waist.
I guess if you were using astrict definition of weights it would be possibnle to say you were bulking without weight by going all Bill Clinton on me. If you think you're going to eat a ton and do some push ups and jumping jacks to get huge you got another thing coming.

Tell us, if you were to attempt this, what would you being to get large?


You can do push ups, chin ups and plenty of other stuff if you get inventive. Also for the price of a few months gym membership you could probably build a decent home gym. Start of with a bar and some weights then buy more equipment when you can afford it. A chin up bar costs fuck all and you could probably pick up a second hand bench somewhere.

Watch the training scenes from the Rocky films and take notes!!



Weight training should be a part of every atheltes training.


There was another, similar post last week. As was said then, the key is progressive overload. As you progress from standard pushups to 1-leg pushups to 1-arm pushups, for example, the work done by your chest, anterior deltoid and triceps is going to increase. Therefore, you're going to build muscle. You won't get 'huge', but you WILL grow. Hell, if you can do unilateral pushups and chins, pistols and straight-arm pushups you'll have a pretty impressive physique not to mention extremely good relative strength.
You could also invest in an olympic dunbell and some plates. See Dan John's article about how he trained when he broke his wrist. Or Alwyn Cosgrove's 'The Body is a Barbell' DVD.
NB - I have found, both in my own training and those of my clients, that phenotype seems to have a great impact on whether bodyweight training is effective.


Bodyweight exercise has been a staple of my training, and I have indeed put on 40 lbs. of muscle in these past 10 months, as a newbie, without a gym membership. The key is to train smart and to eat smart:

Progressively more difficult exercises, knowing when to back off for rest, and progressively better dietary choices and timing.

You will want to invest at least in a chin-up bar, for $20. You may also invest in dumbbells, buying one pair at a time. Actually, you'll want to get two pair to start, as a light pair is necessary for warm-up or for training the very small muscle groups (like deltoid isolation).

A barbell set would be a nice investment as well, though more of an initial pay-out. You can find equipment somewhat cheaper at a second-hand sports store.

Train the compound movements first. Here is weightlifting in a nutshell, the prime six movements:

Horizontal Press (push-up, bench press)
Horziontal Pull (inverse row, bent row)
Vertical Press (handstand push-up, military press)
Vertical Pull (pull-up, pull-down machine)
Quad Dominant (bodyweight squats, squats)
Hip Dominant (bodyweight deadlift, deadlift)

Since bodyweight squats and deadlifts are not very challenging, try them on one leg at a time. This will also help to even out any imbalances between legs.

If you are unable to perform any of the bodyweight movements - such as handstand push-ups - you can progress with feet elevated push-ups, gradually increasing the elevation. Same with pull-ups, going from an inverse row to something more upright and with feet not touching the ground. For one-legged squats, you can begin by starting in the down position, and standing up.

It's possible to get "big enough" and "strong enough" without a gym membership or even much of a home gym. Last week was a breakthrough for me, as while wearing loose fitting clothing, some strangers commented that I must lift weights. My biggest dumbbells are only 35 lbs. But I can do 16 handstand push-ups and 8 one-legged squats while holding that dumbbell.

Lol @ gym weenies that can't put up. If you have a brain, gym membership is not essential, not even close. Good luck!


It is possible to bulk without weights to a point, depending on your development and starting point. I've never done it personally. I believe Thib has some very good bodyweight training exercises and programs. I've never really looked into it myself, always having access to a gym.


I am always skeptical of people who can afford internet service but can't afford the YMCA.



Very cool question, your best bet it trying to find some resistance! Use anything from heavy books in a back pack to water jugs.

-with this type of resistance (water jugs and heavy books in a backpack) you can perform weighted push-ups,pull-ups,chin-ups,lunge jumps,frontal raises,lateral raises,rear-delt raises, and squat jumps.

There are also static exericises you can do, for example doing static one-arm rows between a doorway, perform this by trying to pushing your triceps into the door jam, (giving you as much resistance as possible). Another would be doing static hangs from a chin-up bar. Even something as obvious as sprints can increase your leg strength and size without weights.


I'm skeptical of someone who can afford the amount of food needed when bulking, but can't afford a gym membership. I spend a lot more for food than I do for my gym.


Yeah you can, dig around for information on bodyweight exercises.

However even without much money there are things you can do / get / make.

What about some huge water cans / jerry cans etc.. from the shops? Local shops around here sell things like 10 and 20 litre plastic water containers with great handles, you can use them like kettlebells or something, they are real cheap. Not heavy enough? replace water with dirt or rocks.

Steal some rocks from the [park/bush/wilderness]

How much is cement? bugger all. buy some. pour it into a container such as a bucket with pvc pipe through it = one frikking huge cement "plate" you can load on either some iron bar, or tie some rope through it.


Weights, schmeights.

Acquire some kegs, fill them with varying amounts of water.
empty = 30#, full = 165#, you can extrapolate other weights.

get some big rocks.

get some logs/6x6 timbers, etc.

Move such things around.

Find a vehicle and push/pull it.

Do chins, dips, pushups, etc. You will not look like a bodybuilder, but you should be able to build strength faily well.


I was a broke student for a long time. Most people can afford the YMCA. If there is a will, there is a way.


Agreed. The daily sum I pay for food is around fifteen or twenty times that for the gym membership. I tend to buy organic foods when possible so the cost could be reduced to some extent, but there will always be a significant difference.


I'm currently a broke student but luckily I get a free membership to the university gym with my tuition.


Haha, T-forum haters keep on hatin! Thanks to the posters who put up some great advice. I'm not looking to get huge, I'm looking to put some more lean muscle on my frame. I'm a slightly different geographic than lots of you, I'm a surfer. Cold water in Cali plus high exertion due to the nature of the sport means incredible caloric burning. On top of that I have a naturally speedy metabolism, so I'm not too worried about packing on slabs of fat. I look more like Brad Pitt in Fight Club than (insert famous beefcake bodybuilder name here...the Governator perhaps?). Maybe the use of the term "bulking" was misleading in my post.

I feel that maybe I should still supplement with protein, just maybe not quite as much as if I were going to use weight training. I may submit and drag myself down to the 24 Hour Fitness, although every fiber of my being will be screaming in protest, not to mention I'll be temporarily blinded by all those polished weights that shine brighter than Mr. Clean's sparkly dome.


It's like you just threw yourself in front of a bus...


No man, you don't need a gym or weights. Send me a 100 bucks and i'll send you back a magic pill that makes you hotter and bigger and ripped. None of that messy working out, that's just for meatheads. You'll be big like brad pitt in no time and two timing hot surfer chicks everyday. I mean come on DUDE!!! DUDE!!!


alright, I'll do it!! You've persuaded me enough . . . . where can I send my money? LOL