How do you strength train without weights?

Posted by for Strong Women

How do I strength train without weights? Expert trainers on why you shouldn’t give up just because you don’t have access to dumbbells. 

Finding ways to keep building strength when working out from home is hard. Without space, money or time to turn your living room into a home gym, many people are confined to bodyweight training for now. And with no news on when gyms will re-open, it seems that bodyweight training will remain for the foreseeable future. 

That’s no big deal, if you’re a runner or someone who loves HIIT. But if you have strength goals in mind, you might be asking how you can continue to build muscle without kit. 

The good news is that you absolutely can get stronger from home – no weights required. Expert trainers Caroline Bragg and Tess Glynne-Jones explain how. 


“In order to really progress in your training, you need to overload the muscles,” explains Caroline. That means working them until failure - or you can’t do anymore - and increasing the reps and resistance over time. For beginners, using their bodyweight to squat and do press-ups will be challenging. When you notice that you’re finding these moves getting easier, you can add extra resistance. “Work across different levels, for example, by elevating your feet on a platform for press-ups,” suggests Caroline.

“I would recommend grabbing something fairly heavy like a milk carton, just to add a little bit of resistance when you’re ready,” explains Tess. “Another way you can increase the difficulty is by slowing your movements right down, which increases the time under tension and the intensity without having to add load.”


“A key benefit is that you can really nail the movement patterns without risk of injury because you’re not putting yourself under too much load too soon,” says Tess. “When you then add weights, you’ll probably get better results as your form will be perfect.”

Generally, “you’re still getting the benefits of resistance training including increasing bone density and injury prevention,” Tess adds.

Most importantly, you can do it anywhere – even during a pandemic. “It’s accessible and free, too,” notes Caroline. 


“You can build muscles using your bodyweight, as it’s still using resistance to tear the muscle fibres,” says Caroline. “However there are limitations. If you’ve been training for a while you might have reached a plateau and you might find it difficult to keep improving your strength without any kit.” 

Plus, it’s harder to isolate specific muscle groups without using dumbbells or resistance bands. “If you wanted to strengthen your biceps, for example, you might struggle,” Caroline adds.

“I would say using weights is definitely the most efficient way to build muscle, but you still can get results without,” says Tess. 

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts. 

Images: Unsplash

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