Many people dislike traditional gyms for a variety of reasons. There’s no reason to feel bad for hating the gym if you don’t like the atmosphere or you’re just not a fan of lifting heavy weights.
However, if you’d still like to build strength, increase endurance, and generally get in shape, there are still options beyond a traditional gym. Here are some ideas for getting strong — without hitting the gym.
Small Daily Actions
Building habits — including new workout routines — can be tougher than it seems. While you may not need a gym membership for many of the following workout types, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stick with these ideas.
Because of that, a good place to start is with small daily actions. While they may not seem like much at first, if you make them consistent and natural, they’ll certainly add up over time.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator the next time you need to get to a different floor. Try holding your groceries straight out ahead of you when you’re carrying them back to your house. The next time you do daily chores around the house, try strapping on wearable weights on your wrists or ankles.
Running might not seem like a muscle-building activity, but the simple act of challenging yourself by getting out on the road or a trail can help you build strength — and give you a host of other benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, running can build body muscle. The key is to focus on high-interval running and shorter sprints instead of long-distance running, which can hinder muscle growth.
Although generally focused on the lower body, adding running to your routine is well worth the time and energy because it’ll also keep your heart and cardiovascular health in check.
One of the most effective ways to build muscle without using traditional workout equipment or needing an expensive gym membership is to use your own body weight.
Bodyweight exercises can increase your strength. Think workouts like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups, crunches, and squats. Most of these exercises can be done in any environment and without any equipment.
At a certain point, you may feel like you’ve “peaked,” which is likely because you need to increase the weight beyond what your own body can provide. Just add weights to your existing bodyweight exercises, and you’ll be good to go!
Yoga may seem like an activity more focused on mindful breathing and stretching, but there are definitely various styles and subsets of yoga that can be great for building muscle and strength. It’s easy to judge yoga and dismiss it as an “easy activity” if you’ve never done it yourself!
This is because yoga is inherently a bodyweight exercise that leverages your own weight to build strength. More than that, yoga targets and strengthens pretty much every muscle in the body — after a yoga class, you might be sore in places you’ve never felt before.
Basically, you’ll want to aim for either power yoga or strength-based yoga. You can also opt for “yoga sculpt” classes, which are generally conducted with handheld or wearable weights.
Martial arts — and particularly Jiu-Jitsu — are generally another great method for getting strong and building muscle. While you may need to buy a gym membership with this option, you definitely won’t get the same vibe at a martial arts school as you do at a traditional gym.
Jiu-Jitsu and other combat sports are an excellent way to increase muscle, build endurance, and aid your cardio. They are full-body exercises that use your own body weight — as well as the bodyweight of your sparring partner — to add resistance. They’re also great for mental health since they are stress-relieving and require some strategic thinking to master.
You can try martial arts exercises at home, but to reap the full benefits, you should invest in a reputable martial art gym membership. An excellent option is The Arena, an MMA gym in San Diego that’s the largest and oldest continuously operated martial arts school in North America. They offer world-class instruction, a great facility and amenities, and much more.