Building Muscle Without Going to the Gym

If your idea of “buff” is the shine on your dining room table, you may wonder whether you really need to develop extra muscle strength for such everyday activities as lifting your grandchild, shopping for groceries or carrying a laundry basket from one room to another.

In a word: yes. Exercise will help you continue doing the things you love at any age.

But if you’re envisioning mornings spent toiling away in a gym weight room, you can exhale now. You can create a muscle-maintaining regimen without leaving home, without fancy equipment and perhaps without even thinking of what you’re doing as exercise.

Routine exercises

A common misconception among women is that they’ll sweat and torture their body. The truth is, you don’t have to twist yourself up like a pretzel. You can maintain strength with simple activities you can incorporate into your daily life.

For example, try the bridge, in which you lie down on the floor with knees bent and lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. You’d be surprised at how much abdominal muscle that takes. It strengthens the core.

Here are some more favorite moves that you can do anytime, anywhere.


For a full body exercise, one of the best you can do–and can do anywhere–is a squat. A squat involves everything from upper core on down. Basically, the movement calls for arranging your feet shoulder-width apart, arms out in front of you, keeping your back in a neutral position. Then slowly bend your knees.


Sit down in a sturdy chair without using your hands to steady yourself. Then lift yourself out of the chair, again without using your hands. As you do so, keep your chin up and elevated.

It’s a great lower body exercise and also takes some core muscles as well. This maneuver will even serve you well in improving your balance as a bonus.

Wall pushups

Any kind of pushup is great for the upper body. A wall pushup is wonderful.

To push off from a wall, stand a little more than an arm’s length from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Lean forward and put your hands flat against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows as you move your upper body toward the wall. This should be a slow, smooth motion.

Chair pushups

Position yourself at the end of a heavy chair. Put your hands at the edge of the chair and try lifting yourself out of it, as an exercise for improving upper body strength.


There’s plenty you can do while performing ordinary tasks or even relaxing. Try using television commercials as time for muscle-protecting routines, such as a couple of squats, going up and down on tiptoes, or standing up and sitting down 10 times in a row.

For an exercise that won’t seem too taxing, put a pillow between your legs and squeeze for the length of a commercial. You can also use chore time for fitness: Sidestep (move to the side rather than forward and back) while sweeping the floor. Do lunges while running the vacuum cleaner.

Nutrition in the picture

Don’t forget to keep nutrition in mind as you work at staying fit.

Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other if you’re looking for optimal health.

But you don’t have to load up on protein or dietary supplements. Focusing on certain nutrients gets too complicated. Instead, eat from a variety of food groups. If you make sure you’re hitting all the food groups, you will hit all the nutrients.

Make an effort to start consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in varying colors, dairy foods and dark green vegetables for calcium, and whole grains and healthy sources of protein such as fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, legumes and nuts.