At the age of 19, I've come to accept for many years that my lower body would take complete and total predominance when it comes to my muscle mass. However, over the last year or so, I've been less-than-pleased with my build above the waist. I don't own any equipment, can't go to a gym (no car, and the closest one is well out of my way), so I was wondering. Is there a means to which I can bulk my upper build at home without any special equipment? Abs, pecs, back, arms, etc.

Since the weather's been nicer, I've started running to get my cardiovascular back up to snuff.

Edit: I've heard talk about doing planks and pushups.

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    Can you do pull-ups anywhere? Children park close-by, a well-positioned branch? Pull-ups are crucial and it's quite hard to replace them.
    – VPeric
    Apr 2, 2013 at 19:32
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    What did you use for your lower body? Are we really talking no equipment--could you build or buy some? Apr 2, 2013 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


Pushups are great for your chest, triceps and core. Work your way up to 50 in one set.

Install a chin-up bar in one of your doorways. Then you could do pull-ups (biceps, lats, delts) and chin-ups (lower lats, biceps) and hanging leg raises(obliques, lower abs). Put two chairs together and do dips, as well, for your triceps.

Invest in kettlebells or dumbbells, then you could do shoulder presses, shoulder shrugs, bicep curls, tricep extensions, front raises, dumbbell rows.... I could go on for hours. Two 25 pound dumbbells could go a LONG way, and would only cost you like 30-40$.

The perennial calisthenic exercises are for your core. Sit-ups, Planks, Side planks, crunches, reverse crunches, bicycle crunch, mountain climbers are all good for your core/abs/obliques and can be done easily, with no equipment.

HOWEVER! You claim you want to "build upper body muscle", and the best way to do this is by following a strength training regimen with progressive weight loads, while overcompensating calories burned with a high caloric intake and massive amounts of protein. People will say that exercising with your own bodyweight can be enough, but that depends on genetics, among many other things, and it could take YEARS.

If you truly want to build muscle, you'll need to invest in a car or a bus pass and a gym membership.

EDIT: I really can't think of much other than push-ups if you ONLY want to use body-weight and nothing else.


The truth is that you can build upper body strength and muscle using only your body weight. Marco is right! You can at least invest in a pull-up bar.

You can try this workout:

  1. Plyo Push-ups
  2. Chin-ups
  3. Chair Dips
  4. Plank Pelvis Crunch
  5. Side Plank Pelvis Crunch

Try to perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps (work your way up) 3 days per week with one day of rest in between for 3-4 weeks. After that, you have to follow the progressive overload principle to continue to build strength and muscle.

You must also eat clean and eat more healthy calories:

Sweet potatoes, egg whites, chicken breast, grilled fish, peanut butter, avocados as they are loaded with good carbs and proteins.

You can change to these exercises once you can perform more than 15 reps easily to continue to follow the progressive overload principle:

Gator plyo push-ups, pull-ups, decline plyo push-ups, etc.

Good luck!

  • 1
    I have what I believe to be a healthy diet. I think my worst habit is soda, but even then it's a can or two a day compared to the incomparable volumes of water and milk I take in. Peanut butter sandwiches are kind of my snack food (I eat over the course of the day with smaller "square meals"). I can invest in a pullup bar, in fact I think my uncle can build an outdoor one for me which would be nice, what with the weather getting nicer.
    – Cora
    Apr 3, 2013 at 2:34
  • That being said, I couldn't do chair dips if my life depended on it. xD That's a goal I can stride towards for now.
    – Cora
    Apr 3, 2013 at 2:37
  • @ DarkWolffe You don't have to do chair dips in the beginning; however, you can build up to it. You can start out by just holding in an isometric position for as long as you can, then working towards 1-3 reps, 3-5 reps, etc. Good luck! I'm proud of you for trying.
    – QikMood
    Apr 3, 2013 at 4:05
  • All those links you have cited seem to have broken now. Kindly fix it. Jan 19, 2014 at 21:26
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    @Jeyanthan Thanks for the comment. They should be good now as we used to have videos available on our website; however, now the videos are only available on our YouTube channel GetFitChimp. Enjoy!
    – QikMood
    Feb 2, 2014 at 4:07

You're looking for exercises to bulk up without special equipment. So first of all I would advice you to buy some dumbbells because they offer the resistance you will need to bulk up.

Sure you can create a well defined upper body using only bodyweight movements but your goal is to bulk up, so you need resistance. You need to trigger your muscle fibres in order to grow.

So if I were you, I would invest in dumbbells or look for something you already own that has some weight and fit the palms of your hand.

If you don't want to buy anything then you need to be creative: do some push ups with a weight on your upper back (books in a bag or something).

Running is great for cardio. Do you do interval training while running to boost your heart rate?

Keep us posted on your progress!

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    I'm removing the link from your answers. If your answers are good quality, people will check your profile to see if you have a website, and will visit your website as a result of great answers here, not as result of your personal links. Alternatively, StackExchange does sell advertising. Apr 5, 2013 at 18:02

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