strength training without equipment

Strength training without equipment: a how-to

Can you improve your strength by training at home or outside without equipment? Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. What's more, training without equipment is a great excuse to get creative!

Strength training without equipment is something that absolutely everyone can do, no matter their budget. Equipment-free workouts such as the Lafay method and street workouts are booming right now.

But can you actually build muscle without equipment? How can you strengthen your entire body? Which exercises are the best? We reveal all.

Building muscle quickly without equipment: is it possible?

The answer is a resounding yes! But there are a few caveats. First of all, building muscle quickly is possible, but it all depends on what you define as "quickly". You may start to see results in the first few weeks, but for any real changes, you'll generally have to wait around 3 months. Rome wasn't built in a day! The more long-term your training routine, the more long-lasting and healthy the results will be for your body.

Using your bodyweight to build muscle is possible, but only up to a certain point. If your goal is to really bulk up, then training without equipment has its limits. Past a certain level, you'll start to plateau. To stimulate your body to grow more muscle, you'll need to change the way you train and include exercises with weights.

Here are some tips to optimise your equipment-free strength workouts and see results:

Follow a suitable training programme: Following a strength training programme will show you where you're going, give you a framework to follow, and also motivate you! It'll also help you to establish more of a routine for your workouts.

Eat a healthy diet: This is your fuel. It's what supplies the energy your body needs to do your strength workouts and to feed your muscles so that they can rebuild your muscle fibres. For the most visible results, opt for a varied, balanced diet that you enjoy, with as few processed foods as possible. You've no doubt heard people talking about the importance of protein in athletes' diets. Protein plays a vital role in building your muscles, so make sure to eat enough of it, regardless of whether it's of animal or plant origin. Your daily protein needs will vary depending on who you are and the type of physical activity you do each day.

Train regularly: Training regularly and frequently is one of the secrets to getting fitter and seeing results. If you train every day for a week but then only do one workout in the next three weeks, that's not exactly what you'd call regular! Obviously, you're fully entitled to skip a session here and there or take a week's holiday where you don't exercise at all. It's not going to make a huge difference to your results. The important thing is to train regularly over the long term and to maintain a balanced diet.

Adapt your routine: Once you've established your equipment-free training routine, how can you continue to get fitter with just your bodyweight? You can change the size of the movement by doing a harder version of the exercise with a broader range of motion. You can also increase the length of each exercise to increase the amount of time that your muscles are put under tension.

building muscle without equipment

How can you strengthen your entire body without equipment?

To train your entire body without any equipment, it's best to do full-body or half-body workouts (rather than split training, which focuses on just one muscle group per session).

Full-body training: The idea is to work every muscle group during every training session. Full-body strength workouts generally involve one or two exercises per muscle group. This training method develops a balanced musculature even if you don't exercise very often, and ensures that you don't neglect any muscle groups.

Half-body training: With this type of training, you'll switch between upper-body and lower-body workouts. So each session will involve exercises working only one of these muscle blocks.

To strengthen your full body without equipment, prioritise polyarticular exercises that use your bodyweight. These basic exercises use several muscle groups within the same movement. With this type of exercise, all of your muscles work together. This will improve your overall strength as well as stimulating your deeper muscles and improving your balance.

What's the most all-round exercise?

It's hard to pick just one, so we're going to give you two! One for the upper body and one for the lower body:

➡ Press-ups (or push-ups): They're one of the first things that springs to mind when you think of strength training using bodyweight. The great thing about press-ups is that there are so many variants you can do! From press-ups on your knees to diamond press-ups, clap press-ups and even incline press-ups, there's no excuse for getting bored. The exercise mainly works your pectoral muscles, your deltoids and your triceps, but also engages your core.

➡ Squats: This polyarticular exercise is also a must in every strength workout. It's incredibly good for building lower-body muscle, but also engages your core and your back muscles while boosting your flexibility. It's an all-in-one exercise with many variants, including sumo squats, pulse squats, air squats, jump squats and split squats.

strength programme

No-equipment strength programme: at home or outdoors!

The advantage of strength training without equipment is that you can do it almost anywhere. On holiday, at the beach, at home, in your garden, in the city... Your options are endless. All sorts of corners of our cities are being used nowadays for street workouts.

Need inspiration to help mix up your workouts? Check out our outdoor strength programme!

How can you build arm, shoulder, back and chest muscle without equipment?

Press-ups: Place your hands on the floor, just underneath your shoulders, about shoulder-width apart. Stick your legs out straight behind you (classic press-ups can also be done on your knees to make the movement easier if you're a beginner). Bend your arms to lower your chest towards the ground. Then come back up to the starting position. Your elbows should stay close to your body, at approximately 45°. Squeeze your entire body to stay strong.

Chair dips: Sit on the edge of a chair and place your hands either side of your hips. Your feet should be resting on the ground, with your legs slightly bent. Push into your hands to lift your body off the chair so that your bum is hanging in the air just in front of it. Lower yourself until your triceps are parallel to the ground, then push yourself back up into the starting position. Inhale on the way down, and exhale on the way back up.

The TW: Lie on your stomach. Place your arms out to the side so that you form a T shape. Lift them off the ground, then bend your elbows so that your arms form a W shape. Hold the "letter" for 10 seconds, then relax.

Shoulder-tap planks: Get into plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Hold the position as you touch your shoulder with the opposite hand. Alternate sides.

strength exercises without equipment

What equipment-free exercises can you do to build your glutes and thighs?

Squats: Stand with your feet slightly further than hip-width apart. Bend your knees, drop your bum backwards and keep your heels on the ground. Your knees should stay in line with your toes. Inhale on the way down, and exhale on the way up.

Forward lunges: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forwards and bend your knees until they're at 90°, then stand back up again. Keep your back straight and squeeze your core. Repeat with the other leg. Inhale on the way down, and exhale on the way up.

Wall sits: Stand with your back against a wall, your legs at 90° and your feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your leg muscles and your abs. Hold the position.

Glute bridge: Lie on your back with your arms alongside your body or out to the sides to help you stabilise yourself during the exercise. Place your feet flat on the ground about one hand length from your glutes. Push through your heels to lift your bum off the ground and push your hips upwards. Then return to the starting position.

Which full-body no-equipment strength programme is best?

Simple, quick, effective: these 5 no-equipment exercises inspired by the Lafay method will become your go-to strength workout!

Romain, our strength-training specialist, guides you through this equipment-free workout three times a week, with one day of rest between sessions.

How to structure your workout
For each exercise, do:
➡ 30 seconds of effort
➡ 30 seconds of rest before moving on to the next exercise.
Number of reps:  5 rounds in total.

Coach's tip: "During your 30 seconds of effort, try to be as energetic as possible and do as many reps as you can".

The 5 exercises:
Exercise 1:  wall sits
Exercise 2: triceps press-ups against a wall
Exercise 3: oblique crunches
Exercise 4:  single-leg sumo squats
Exercise 5: wide press-ups.

Warm up before your strength workout

Remember to warm up before getting started. The warm-up is an integral part of any workout and is really important. Here's a standard warm-up that you can adapt to suit your preferences. 

➡1 minute of gentle skipping
➡ 30 seconds of high-knee running
➡ Core: 30 seconds of front and side plank

core strength

Exercise 1: wall sits

Goal:  to strengthen your thighs.

How to do it:
Stand with your back against a wall and your arms beside your body. Drop down so your thighs are parallel with the floor. Hold this position for 1 minute.

Breathe slowly and deeply.

Keep it safe:
Squeeze your abs to protect your back, which should stay flat against the wall throughout the exercise.

To make this exercise harder, cross one leg over the other and hold the position for 30 seconds on each side.

triceps strength training

Exercise 2: triceps press-ups against a wall

Goal: to strengthen your triceps.

How to do it:
- stand facing a wall
- place your feet hip-width apart
- place your hands on the wall at shoulder height (drop them slightly if you want to make the exercise harder).
- bend your elbows until your forearms are touching the wall.
- return to the starting position.


Inhale as you lower yourself towards the wall, and exhale as you return to the starting position.

Keep it safe:
Squeeze your abs by sucking in your stomach. Make sure that you don't arch your back.

Exercise 3: oblique crunches

Goal: to strengthen your obliques (abs).

How to do it:
- Lie on your back
- bend your knees and tip your legs to the left.
- place your hands behind your ears
- then slowly and gently lift your chest off the floor as high as possible.
- Return to the starting position and repeat.

Keep it safe:
keep your eyes on a fixed point ahead of you.

Tip: don't use your hands to pull your head forwards.

Squats weight training

Exercise 4: single-leg sumo squats

to strengthen your thighs and glutes.

How to do it:
- stand with your feet wider apart than your shoulders and place your hands on your hips.
- your toes should be pointing slightly outwards.
- look ahead of you, then bend your right leg (your left leg should stay straight), keeping your chest upright.
- come back to the starting position and repeat on the other side (left leg bent, right leg straight).

Inhale as you lower yourself, and exhale as you return to the starting position.

Keep it safe:
Squeeze your abs by sucking in your stomach. Point your knees out over your toes.

Exercise 5: wide press-ups

Goal: to strengthen your pecs!

How to do it:
- place your hands flat on the ground, wider than shoulder-width apart, with your fingers spread out and pointing forwards.
- your feet should be hip-width apart. Squeeze your core and straighten your arms to lift your body.
- your body and head should be in a straight line.
- lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows and then return to the starting position by straightening your arms.
Repeat the movement.

Inhale while descending to the ground. Exhale when you reach the top.

Keep it safe:
Keep your body aligned and squeeze your abs throughout the exercise. Control the movement and lower yourself very slowly.

With a bit of imagination, it's totally possible to build strength without using any equipment. Your bodyweight is an amazing tool for toning and sculpting your body and improving your strength and flexibility. Whether you're at home, on holiday or out and about, you can train without equipment wherever you like!

marie decathlon content writer


Decathlon writer

I am a dance enthusiast, a fitness enthusiast, a great fan of pools and a yogi apprentice. When I am not doing sports, I like to write about its history and its benefits!



Efficiently bulk up every muscle group with strength training! You're sculpting a balanced body and developing your physique, power, strength and endurance.