7

votes

Can I "say no" to gyms and still develop power and maybe even some mass?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 07, 2012 at 12:33 AM

Does anyone have an idea of where to start lifting heavy things given my background, and is it possible to do it at home, or is a gym inevitable? My primary goal is to gain power in the muscles I already have...perhaps a tiny bit of mass, and lean out a bit further.

I've never enjoyed gym-culture, nor do I like spending time in the gym, but want to progress my fitness further, since getting into leangains/IF. I've worried about injuring myself with lifting heavy, as I am a super-beginner, and currently have no gym membership. I prefer not paying for such things...

Stuff about me:

Age: 22

Height: 5'9''

Weight: 150 lbs

Body Fat (Super Rough Estimate): Somewhere between 12%-15%, (I do have 4-pack abdominals, 6-pack/super small spare tire varies with sleep and stress.)

Activity levels: Moderate, standing work desk, standing most of the day.

Primary Exercises: Breakdancing, walking, hiking, occasional wide grip pull-ups on the pull up bar in my doorway. I would describe my body type as agile, lean, but could do with more power in my muscles (not necessarily more mass).

Diet: Mostly my own prepared food, which completely avoids gluten/wheat, excess fructose, excessive seed oils, and sugar. Dairy, properly prepared legumes, and nuts, very sparingly. Sweet potatoes are main starch source, with white rice sometimes. Lots of vegetables and grass-fed beef/lamb. Occasional pork/chicken. Seafood, wild, 3-4 times a week. I don't drink calories. Coffee sometimes. Cheats are often gluten free, and mostly is just high quality ice-cream or super dark chocolate, sometimes wine.

Been doing 16/8 leangains IF eating window. Probably each roughly 700-900 calories per meal, two meals a day. I don't count or care too much about macronutrients. Probably just higher fat on days I don't do anything, and higher carb post-dance/hike.

Sleep: 7-9 hours ish a night.

Currently taking no supplements or vitamins or any powders or anything.

F83abbabaa67add0a1c8dbc83b55b107

(148)

on January 24, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Google the football great Herschel Walker. He didn't go to the gym either.

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 14, 2012
at 03:37 AM

+1 I would agree on kettle bells. You can definitely develop strength and mass with kettle bells. At your age I would recommend a 1.5 pood (53 pound) bell. Swings, presses, turkish getups, front squats, are all great at developing muscle

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on January 08, 2012
at 08:02 AM

Thanks. All great responses. I'll sort through them and take a look at all the sites, but I'm really liking the body weight exercises stuff...just cause it's pretty minimalistic. I will def hit you up, Daniel, if I have further questions or need help! Thanks!

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on January 08, 2012
at 05:42 AM

Feel free to email me if you want some help designing a program... Kirsner72 AT aol DOT com

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Also just realised this morning after stubbing my toe on it, a kettle-bell is a really good purchase and a very versatile tool. Not just for swings, but presses, rows etc

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on January 07, 2012
at 09:15 AM

I never thought I'd come across a Trojan either...yeah, UCLA does have a gym, but once you graduate they don't let you in free anymore. Perhaps I just gotta suck it up.

25b139cc1954456d9ea469e40f984cd3

on January 07, 2012
at 08:29 AM

UCLA has a great gym. Answer: learn to endure the gym, or change your goal. I'm in Westwood, I'd be glad to help, but I'm sick of people who want to become F1 champions, but don't want to have to learn to drive.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:50 AM

I never thought I'd come across the day I'd meet a Bruin on PaleoHacks...... doesn't UCLA have a gym?

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:09 AM

If you have the equipment of course you could.

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11 Answers

best answer

1
Medium avatar

(19469)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:23 AM

The fact that you are new to lifting (as you said, a "super beginner") and worried about injuries suggests to me that you could benefit from investing in a few sessions with a legitimate weight lifting coach.

Having an awareness of proper form by actually performing the standard powerlifting (squat, deadlift, bench) and olympic-style lifts (clean & jerk, snatch) with a qualified coach is invaluable in my opinion.

If this option is not available to you, I would get some books on lifting from your local library and perform the movements with a dowel rod or broom stick until what you see in the mirror looks like what is outlined in the materials.

Once you have technique, you can start adding weight.

Another suggestion is that if you are working out alone at your house, a good rule of thumb is to mentally rehearse a "what if" scenario prior to performing a lift. Basically, think about "what if I lose control of the bar/weight", "what if I reach muscle failure and can't complete the lift", etc.

For example, there are a lot of bad things that could happen while performing a bench press with the bar. You can eliminate most, if not all of these bad things by performing a bench press with dumbbells instead (dropping weight to the floor rather than dropping weight on your throat).

best answer

3
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on January 07, 2012
at 02:09 AM

Well it's 01:52am and I am up waiting for a server to finish its fsck.

You sound VERY similar to me. I have never set foot in a gym in my life, I don't really like the concept. Though I do very much want to join a CrossFit box this year.

What I have done is bought myself a 20KG sandbag (AlphaStrong I found looked the most robust) and began to incorporate this into squats, presses and shoulder get-ups, or just carry it a mile to the park. See: http://paleohacks.com/questions/86362/help-my-heavy-carrying-recovery though in the case of this question I needed to edge the weight up slower to avoid unnecessary strain.

I also made myself a 5kg weight belt by tying and taping dumbell freeweights to an army canvas belt which I then wear to do weighted pull-ups.

I am basically doing bodyweight exercises along with animal crawls, and incorporating some breakin' floor work for flexibility and core strength.

So far so good. In terms of mass, personally I just want to keep eating normally and getting stronger, I don't want to force myself to bulk just so I am bigger, but rather eat for my need.

I do IF: http://paleohacks.com/questions/77020/leangains-if-schedule-guidance

This was my own question about strength gains: http://paleohacks.com/questions/79864/what-is-the-actual-biological-biochemical-difference-between-a-strength-workout-v

This is of course only my novice experience with myself so far, and I there are far more mature answers to follow from everyone else.

But this is currently what I am doing.

All the best!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Also just realised this morning after stubbing my toe on it, a kettle-bell is a really good purchase and a very versatile tool. Not just for swings, but presses, rows etc

3
34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on January 07, 2012
at 06:52 AM

You could do a lot with a set of dumbbells or kettlebells.

http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/dumbbell-exercises-3#mobify-bubble

I used a pair of 50's and a small adjustable set from a yard-sale when I was living in a really small apartment a few years back. A few sets of one-armed clean and jerks, lunges, and a turkish get-up was more than enough to build explosive strength along with some basic plyometrics. As I got stronger I'd just add more reps, more sets but also perform them explosively. 50 lb. dumbbells would probably be too much to start so any basic adjustable set would work for starters.

I had heard somewhere that the Turkish get-up was the original strongman exercise. Supposedly they wouldn't give you another exercise until you could perform them with a 100 lbs, no easy task but doable.

http://www.bestkettlebellworkout.com/the-turkish-getup/

2c66c70d033e7ec05327026121d2ceb4

(200)

on January 14, 2012
at 03:37 AM

+1 I would agree on kettle bells. You can definitely develop strength and mass with kettle bells. At your age I would recommend a 1.5 pood (53 pound) bell. Swings, presses, turkish getups, front squats, are all great at developing muscle

2
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on January 14, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Yeah, it's really worth it IMHO to schedule at least a few sessions with a coach or personal trainer just to teach basic safe techniques for lifting heavy stuff. It's going to probably save you a lot of time and money in terms of setting you up for success and preventing injury. You are of course going to have to pay for this unless you can barter, but it's not an ongoing expense once you've learned the techniques.

1
Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on January 14, 2012
at 01:37 AM

Update: A short, intense workout, through my friends VIP gym membership, has gotten me successfully started on my "lifting heavy weights."

At the gym, I just focus on 20 good intense minutes of bench press, squats, and deadlift. At home, I have a pull-up bar where I do dead hang pull ups. I'm already seeing some pretty good results, since sleep, diet, etc, has all been dialed in. Just takes a bit of getting off the ass!

Currently also looking into sandbags/calisthenics and early morning weekend walks.

1
A0f2f0f632d42215944a798486bddde1

(1377)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:14 AM

I'm going to take my first step inside a gym next week - I want to try HIT exercise and there's no way I'm testing my max with a barbell. So Nautilus it is.

That said, I used to train with rings and a sandbag - I spent about $100 for both but you can DIY and get a similar rig for 1/4 that. Between those two you can do every exercise available to a barbell, and tons of bodyweight exercises as well.

Here's an article that addresses your exact question.

0
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on January 14, 2012
at 03:51 AM

If "a little mass" is a true goal, then lifting heavy stuff is necessary (more than bodyweight work). However, as a beginner, you will certainly benefit from some time with a coach to make sure your form is correct. Safety is extremely important. If you go that route, be sure and find a coach who understands the squat and works from there (i.e. not sitting around on a bunch of worthless machines).

0
A5410f987b53c5dc97e8a457c6832ed7

(434)

on January 07, 2012
at 05:35 AM

I'm a big fan of the barbell training Martin prescribes. It's very effective, and it could be difficult approximating the program without access to some iron. That being said, you can definitely increase mass, strength and power without access to a full gym.

Calisthenics can rip and shred any man. If you're looking for a specific resource, I'd check out Al Kavadlo's blog at http://www.alkavadlo.com. He has a well organized site with some good content and videos. He also has a good book available. Other book resources to consider for a no-gym workout regimen are Convict Conditioning I and II by Paul Wade, and Never Gymless by Ross Enamait.

Hope this helps,

Jim

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 07, 2012
at 04:16 AM

Here's a website devoted to no-gym workouts and quite effective. I did them for a couple of years - http://www.angelfire.com/ny5/shenandoah/OBB/OBB.html

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 07, 2012
at 01:18 AM

If you would like to begin progressing strength and power without a large investment I would recommend a weighted vest to start (can get them up to like 70lbs I think). You can wear it while performing your normal sort of body weight exercised for added resistance and little chance of injury. Dont think I'd try wearing it while breakdancing though :).

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 07, 2012
at 04:57 AM

I recommend checking out scoobysworkshop.com This guy has lots of free videos and is all about people getting fit from home cheaply.

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