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  1. #1
    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Building muscle with no gym access?

    Hi,

    I live in a rural area with no gym available. Driving to one is not a practical option for me. I have two dumbbells, one barbell, and a few steel weights. That's it! No bench or anything else.

    I am 51 years old and have been 5'-11" and ~145-150 pounds since high school. I've always been athletic and strong for my weight, am very active outside, fit, and eat cleaner than anyone I know.

    However, due to several upper body injuries in the last 4-6 years, as well as changes in my routine, interests, and being lazy....I lost a lot of strength and muscle. I finally got serious in December, and started arm curls, push-ups, and lunges in addition to riding my bike. I did this everyday, consistently, since December. I was very pleasantly surprised to see and feel quite a noticeable difference in my upper body. As I increased reps and weight though, it seems I began feeling some fatigue. So, I scaled back to every other day. In just looking in the mirror the last 2 weeks, it seems my muscle growth has stopped or even regressed.

    I am most interested in building up my pecs, biceps, and latissimus dorsi...but I would also like to build up my thigh muscles too.

    How might I build my muscle back, and actually gain from what I used to be, using what little equipment I have, in the shortest amount of time? Should I go back to my daily routine?

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    Any exercise is better than no exercise. The old timers just cleaned everything from the floor so it's possible. That said, this is generally considered the minimum for a home gym:

    Power rack
    Adjustable bench
    Olympic bar
    Olympic plates

    Check online for used equipment and see what you can find.
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  3. #3
    Registered User adamgentile's Avatar
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    You don't need much to be honest. Basically what Blue9steel said.

    If you have the space you can build your own. It's crazy how much people get rid of workout equipment on the Facebook Store. I built my small home gym less than a year all for under $1000, mostly all used equipment. The only thing new is the squat rack which i got off amazon, cheap.
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    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Personally I think as a minimum you need a bench and some form of squat rack. I imagine you could get a pull up bar that fits into a doorway or such like.

    When I used to train in my teens I had a mixture of steel weights and plastic ones filled with concrete. The problem I had is that within a year I just didn't have enough weight that could all fit on the bar at once, as my strength eventually exceeded it. It was at that point that I joined a gym.
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    If you can fix up a few bars you can add pull ups and dips to your routine which will work your shoulders, lats, triceps and chest without needing any more gym equipment.
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    You need to workout muscles against resistance using some kind of sensible rep/progression scheme and sensible choices/scheduling

    Do your muscles know that you are pushing against a barbell with chrome knurling and blue bumper plates or black anodised bar with black cast iron plates? No they just know how hard they are pushing/pulling. So for that matter, do they know if you are using gym equipment at all?

    The huge benefit to gym equipment is convenience and flexibility. Clearly it's the easiest way to do it.

    But, it's perfectly possible to slowly increase resistance without gym equipment even just bodyweight (calisthenics) by altering angles/leverages, so you can keep the rep range the same and progressively increase load just like gym

    Read up on calisthenic bodybuilding
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00KH...rb_top?ie=UTF8

    Get a pull-ups bar and some dumbbells, or even make a backyard gym. Checkout these guys! If that's not low-tech I don't know what is. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-...d-bodybuilders

    This guy lived on a farm and used home made equipment https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul...(weightlifter). Seemed to work for him!

    You don't need expensive gym membership. Just the right tactics and determination
    Faith in Jesus first and faith in squats second.
    Then other details will start to slot themselves into place.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Garage Rat's Avatar
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    I will agree with the above.
    While you have something to start with you need a basic set up and you will have many training options.
    Of course in the mean time you can integrate some bodyweight exercises with the weights you have to get you going.
    One of the main things is you need to be discipline and have some goals for yourself to stay motivated.
    Good luck.
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    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by adamgentile View Post
    You don't need much to be honest. Basically what Blue9steel said.

    If you have the space you can build your own. It's crazy how much people get rid of workout equipment on the Facebook Store. I built my small home gym less than a year all for under $1000, mostly all used equipment. The only thing new is the squat rack which i got off amazon, cheap.
    For real, I was looking at the pics and wondering how a ceiling-mounted DB rack works.
    I can tell time. Time cannot tell me.

    Formerly LactoseTolerant. I'm not very imaginative.
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  9. #9
    NASM CPT/WLS Ferrara715's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    For real, I was looking at the pics and wondering how a ceiling-mounted DB rack works.
    HA! I thought it was a great way to save floor space at first
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  10. #10
    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Thanks, you all! Shortly after posting, I was in town and found a bench with bench press bar. It's not super high quality but it gets the job done. I haven't the amount of weights for a proper workout so hang buckets of dirt from the bar. So, besides lunges and squats with a backpack on, pushups, and arm curls, I've been doing bench presses. I've been very diligent about doing this on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

    In looking in the mirror, my gains seem to have been greater when doing lighter curls and pushups daily. However, perhaps that was just a phase that has plateaued and gains from here on out will be slower. That said, a week ago, my wife (who isn't overly observant) mentioned out of the blue and unsolicited, that I had "filled out" noticeably in my upper body. That was good to hear since my progress seems so slow to me. But, considering my age and/or lack of equipment, maybe I can't expect anything faster. I'm 5 months into this now. Thoughts?

    Question: Is there a particular time I should focus on eating more protein? In other words, should I eat extra right after lifting? Extra the day after? Or...should it be an even intake all the time? Since starting, I've had general muscle soreness and aches that don't really go away. Perhaps I'm not getting enough protein?

    All advice and ideas welcome. Thanks!
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  11. #11
    Registered User Praemonstrator's Avatar
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    You're lucky to have found the bench in these current times. Facebook Marketplace prices on used weight plates and dumbbells in particular are completely INSANE right now.
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  12. #12
    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Praemonstrator View Post
    You're lucky to have found the bench in these current times. Facebook Marketplace prices on used weight plates and dumbbells in particular are completely INSANE right now.
    I found it at a thrift store before the Corona madness. $8 as I recall. But I have since seen steel weights on FB and Craigslist that were crazy expensive.
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  13. #13
    Harsh Truth Distributor xsquid99's Avatar
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    Check out Alan Thrall on YouTube, he's mastered using items you wouldn't necessarily think of for his strongman training (truck tires, sandbags, homemade cement stones, empty beer kegs, etc). You can find lots of those items being given away for free and they're perfect for a garage/backyard setup.

    As long as you're getting about 0.7g of protein per lb of bodyweight daily then protein/nutrient timing in the grand scheme of things really isn't that critical. Ideally you'd want to spread your intake out over the course of your day, but again its not going to make or break you. But protein is unlikely to be the cause of your aches and pains. Muscle soreness (DOMS) is generally an OK/acceptable thing, but pain really isn't so if you're experiencing continuous pain somewhere then you may have an injury that needs to be rested or maybe looked at by a health professional if its bad enough.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.
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  14. #14
    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    Check out Alan Thrall on YouTube, he's mastered using items you wouldn't necessarily think of for his strongman training (truck tires, sandbags, homemade cement stones, empty beer kegs, etc). You can find lots of those items being given away for free and they're perfect for a garage/backyard setup.

    As long as you're getting about 0.7g of protein per lb of bodyweight daily then protein/nutrient timing in the grand scheme of things really isn't that critical. Ideally you'd want to spread your intake out over the course of your day, but again its not going to make or break you. But protein is unlikely to be the cause of your aches and pains. Muscle soreness (DOMS) is generally an OK/acceptable thing, but pain really isn't so if you're experiencing continuous pain somewhere then you may have an injury that needs to be rested or maybe looked at by a health professional if its bad enough.
    Thanks! I'll check out Alan. Sounds right up my alley.

    Thanks also for the protein tip. I eat little meat but lots of legumes, seeds, nuts, quinoa, and eggs. I use a protein powder as well in my breakfast smoothy. I'll check the amounts I'm getting.

    Re my soreness.... I hate to think it, but.... if I were to listen to those whom are a few years older than I, I would believe it to be normal from simple wear and tear. I have abused my body since I can remember from playing hard in different extreme sports, martial arts, etc. So maybe just wear and tear. Was hoping that wouldn't occur for another 20 years but....
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    Ive been using heavy water containers 5 to 8 liters plus adding couple heavy resistance bands and have managed to keep most of my muscle op.

    Im also doing higher reps like 20 to 30 reps which seems to be helping and ofc stay consistent with your diet even if your not lifting heavy makes a huge difference
    43yr old motivator
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    Registered User xTeTe's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by doreencairns76 View Post
    Ive been using heavy water containers 5 to 8 liters plus adding couple heavy resistance bands and have managed to keep most of my muscle op.

    Im also doing higher reps like 20 to 30 reps which seems to be helping and ofc stay consistent with your diet even if your not lifting heavy makes a huge difference
    Heavy water jugs are good. Also, going to Home Depot or Lowes, buy a bunch of contractor trash bags, gravel or sand... fill the bags while weighting them out on a scale and then placing as much weight as necessary in backpacks or duffle bags.
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    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Thanks for the additional replies, everyone!

    Question: As far as fastest results for building bulk and gaining weight, what is better....not worrying about reps but just lifting until you can't go any longer... or, 3 sets of 12, or something else?
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    Registered User baaaaats's Avatar
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    Run a rock up a hill
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FishUgly View Post
    Thanks for the additional replies, everyone!

    Question: As far as fastest results for building bulk and gaining weight, what is better....not worrying about reps but just lifting until you can't go any longer... or, 3 sets of 12, or something else?
    That question is the same with or without gym access. What did you do before lockdown?

    The most popular approach is to follow a program that uses some kind of progressive rep/resistance scheme keeping reps in the 8-20 range per set.

    100 reps of 1Kg might not cause the same adaptions as 1 rep at 100Kg, Or.. 100 wall pushups might not cause the same adaptions as 1* one arm push-up.

    But see the sticky on size versus strength.
    Faith in Jesus first and faith in squats second.
    Then other details will start to slot themselves into place.
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    Im doing what I can during this. I have some heavier dumbbells, a total gym and pullup/chinup bar. I am doing all that I can and being as creative as I can. With those, i can do all that I need to honestly.
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    Registered User xTeTe's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FishUgly View Post
    Thanks for the additional replies, everyone!

    Question: As far as fastest results for building bulk and gaining weight, what is better....not worrying about reps but just lifting until you can't go any longer... or, 3 sets of 12, or something else?
    For me, even with weighted backpacks and duffle bags at the moment, I'm still trying to stay in the 6 x 6 range like I was going at the gym. A lot of people swear by 5 x 5 for mass building, which is fine but I've noticed 6 x 6 works better for me. Really you'll just have to see what you're comfortable with and modify your workout as you go.

    If you're just starting out again, I don't think doing higher rep volume is bad at all right now, just make sure you're doing exercises to the point where you're only leave a couple reps left in the tank in each set. Going till failure in every set isn't doing yourself any favors either.
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    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    For me, even with weighted backpacks and duffle bags at the moment, I'm still trying to stay in the 6 x 6 range like I was going at the gym. A lot of people swear by 5 x 5 for mass building, which is fine but I've noticed 6 x 6 works better for me. Really you'll just have to see what you're comfortable with and modify your workout as you go.

    If you're just starting out again, I don't think doing higher rep volume is bad at all right now, just make sure you're doing exercises to the point where you're only leave a couple reps left in the tank in each set. Going till failure in every set isn't doing yourself any favors either.
    Thanks. What do you mean when you say 5x5 and 6x6?
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    Registered User xTeTe's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by FishUgly View Post
    Thanks. What do you mean when you say 5x5 and 6x6?
    Five sets of five reps or six sets of six reps. Usually lifting about 80 percent of your one rep max.
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    "x% of 1 rep max" may be difficult to estimate if you're doing say... Pushups or something. So another way to achieve the same thing is pick a variation of exercise where you can only just do 8 reps (before form starts to go bad). Then work on that until you can do 20 reps then move up to a harder variation again.

    So for example if you can do a sh** load of standard pushups, then... don't do ordinary pushups! Do a variation like diamond pushups (hands/fingers together) where you can only just do 8 good ones. Work up to doing 20 reps in each set, then go for a harder variation again.

    These are just examples, the principle applies to all exercise even ones like bridges, squats pull-ups etc
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    Then other details will start to slot themselves into place.
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  25. #25
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xTeTe View Post
    For me, even with weighted backpacks and duffle bags at the moment, I'm still trying to stay in the 6 x 6 range like I was going at the gym. A lot of people swear by 5 x 5 for mass building, which is fine but I've noticed 6 x 6 works better for me. Really you'll just have to see what you're comfortable with and modify your workout as you go.

    If you're just starting out again, I don't think doing higher rep volume is bad at all right now, just make sure you're doing exercises to the point where you're only leave a couple reps left in the tank in each set. Going till failure in every set isn't doing yourself any favors either.
    I simply cannot find stuff heavy enough to do sets of 6 reps. For most things I'm going up to 20 reps. Pushups with bags of sand on my back I'm doing 12-14 reps.
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  26. #26
    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    I simply cannot find stuff heavy enough to do sets of 6 reps. For most things I'm going up to 20 reps. Pushups with bags of sand on my back I'm doing 12-14 reps.
    I don't understand this - why can't you find variations "heavy" enough to keep yourself in the 6-15 range without needing the sand?

    Are you really saying you find one arm pushups too easy to keep in that range? If so you're so many levels higher than me because I can't do 1 "clean" one.

    Even if that was the case... you could always move to one arm one leg pushups, planche pushups, etc, etc as harder variations.
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  27. #27
    Registered User FishUgly's Avatar
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    Thanks, all!

    Thus far, though my body type is ectomorph, I've gained enough mass to be noticeable and I'm pleased with my results. I've been religiously lifting on Mon, Wed, and Fridays. My upper body is outpacing my lower though and I'm beginning to look and feel top heavy...or out of proportion. However, I've always been more muscular up top. It's just more pronounced now. Guess I'll have to step it up more on the lower half which, I have to admit, has taken the backseat to my upper.

    All that said, I am often times feeling muscle fatigue...and fatigue in general... and it has become a real physical and mental challenge to keep up my Mon, Wed, Fri routine. I'm not sure if it's due to my age, or something else... like the fact I'm not getting super quality sleep. What ever the reason, I'm wondering if I might benefit from backing off from 3 days per week to 2 days per week. Could 2 days per week possibly be enough for me to continue seeing gains?
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  28. #28
    Registered User pondman's Avatar
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    The first thing you'll notice about men over the age of 50 is their lack of flexibility. If you want to build some of those leg muscles, be sure you have a mobility plan. The best way to ruin your back is to lift to much without mobility. Squatting without being able to sit into it is the quickest way to injury.
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