Muscle Building Workouts You Can Do at Home

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Training

muscle building workoutsYou wanna build muscle?

You wanna get strong?

You wanna do it with short workouts you can do at home? In a sweet, minimalist garage or basement gym? Where you can avoid the expensive public gym memberships and the nonsense that goes along with those hell holes?

Walking into a public gym usually sickens me. I prefer to train in a basement or garage gym any day. So I can relate and I’ve got you covered.

First thing is the set up. What do you really need?

The list is short and sweet. Here’s what I recommend for a great minimalist home gym set up, followed by the exercises you’ll be able to do with each implement:


  • Pushups
  • Rows
  • Chin ups
  • Front levers
  • L-Sits
  • Ab fallouts
  • Muscle ups
  • Dips
  • Scarecrows
  • Curls
  • Triceps extensions


  • Military presses
  • Cleans
  • Clean and presses
  • Bent presses
  • Get ups
  • Swings
  • Snatches
  • Goblet squats
  • Sumo deadlifts
  • Single leg deadlifts

home workouts

Furniture sliders

  • Fly/pushup combo
  • Chest fly
  • Ab fallout
  • Mountain climber
  • Pike
  • Leg curl
  • Ab pull in
  • Slide lunge


  • Face pulls
  • Pull aparts
  • Leg curls
  • Good mornings
  • Pushdowns and extensions
  • Mobility drills
  • Chops and lifts
  • Pallof presses
  • Clams
  • Monster walks

That will cover you. If you want to take it up a notch you could also get a set of adjustable dumbbells, a box to jump and do step ups on, a sled and maybe some medicine balls.

Now that you have your gym set up here are some tips that will help you build some serious muscle and strength…

1) Before you walk into your home gym make sure you have your muscle building workouts planned out. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

2) Prepare a few minutes before by visualizing the workout in your head. See yourself going through each of your exercises and dominating the weights.

3) Limit your workouts to 45 minutes, tops. You really don’ t even need that long and could get a great workout in with just 30 minutes to spare. Use a stopwatch or GymBoss Interval Timer to keep yourself in check.

4) Start each workout with a full body dynamic warm up to fire up the CNS, lubricate the joints and activate the muscles.

5) If you have nagging injuries stay covered up and dress warm for your workouts. Compression tights work well. Knee and elbow sleeves can also be a great friend to the older beat up lifter.

6) Begin your workouts with some type of throw, jump or dumbbell Olympic lift for 3-10 sets of 1-5 reps to fire up your CNS.

7) Pick a skill component you want to work on that day. It could be handstands, front levers, hollow body position, planche progressions or whatever. Spend 7-10 minutes on that.

8) Next, pick a strength movement. Handstand pushups, 1 arm dumbbell presses or rows, pistol squats, single leg kettlebell deads are all great choices. Do some moderately heavy sets of 5-8 reps. There’s rarely a reason for most dudes to train with more than 85% of their one rep max on any exercise.

9) With the speed, skill and strength components out of the way you now want to get a pump. Choose an exercise like an inverted row, glute ham raise, split squat or pushup and do a few sets of 8-20 reps. Get a skin splitting pump and you’re good to go.

10) If you want to include some conditioning hit a 5-10 minute finisher. Battling ropes, kettlebell swings, sled drags, heavy bag work and jumping rope all make for great choices. Go hard for 10-30 seconds then rest for 30-60 seconds.

11) Using Fat Gripz helps you get both grip and forearm work in without adding any extra training time. It also helps save your elbows.

12) Use a variety of bodyweight exercises to prevent boredom, stagnation and overuse injuries. Always strive for maximal muscle stimulation with minimal joint stress.

13) Incorporate odd objects and strongman type exercises to build real world, functional strength and stability. If you could only pick one farmers walks would be the best.

14) Be careful to avoid elbow pain. When your elbows get screwed up you will most likely have to deal with it for years.

15) Take the required time to truly learn proper exercise technique. This is way above and beyond most people. There are elite level lifters and gymnasts who still don’t feel satisfied with their technique. You can always get better. Small changes can make a huge difference.

Road Warrior Hawks muscle building workouts were legendary16) If you want traps like the late, great Road Warrior Hawk (and who doesn’t?) do lots of face pulls, shrugs and farmers walks. Some dumbbell Olympic lift variations work well, too.

17) Do high intensity conditioning either immediately after strength training or as a separate workout on the same day, 4-8 hours later. It’s not the best idea to do it in between strength training days since it’s pretty much the exact same type of stressor to the body.

18) Before doing anything in the gym always ask yourself a couple questions. Will it help me? How? If you can’t come up with a good answer don’t do it.

19) Your goals and what you do during workouts should always coincide.

20) Have fun. At the end of the day most people will not continue to do something for the long haul if it’s not fun. That means choose the exercises and methods of training that you enjoy most. Don’t worry about what anyone else says or what everyone else is doing.

So get a training partner or group to come join you in your basement or garage. Then challenge each other, get strong and have fun.


Building muscle isn’t rocket science. It just requires hard work, dedication, persistence and a never-say-die attitude.

If you’re relentless and train with passion on a regular basis changes will happen. It’s not an overnight process so you’ve got to patient. Remember that it’s a sprint and not a marathon.

A lot of people start training with all kinds of hopes and aspirations. Most of them quit a few months into it.

But you’re not most people.

Now go crush your workout.


If you enjoyed this post the slightest bit I’d appreciate you sharing it with others who might like it as well.

Thanks a lot.

Leave a Reply

37 Responses to Muscle Building Workouts You Can Do at Home

  1. Jamin Thompson August 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    As always, great post dude.

  2. Raymond - ZenMyFitness August 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Excellent tips I’ll do my best to include them into my workouts.

  3. Lee Hayward August 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Awesome tips, thanks for posting!

  4. Jedd August 24, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Love the use of Road Warrior Hawk for the trap example. He and Animal had some sick workouts. I love watching their dvd during the part where Animal talks about their workouts back in the day. SICK TRAP DEVELOPMENT. Those guys were brutes.


  5. Iron August 24, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    Pretty cool article Jason!
    Loved the tips, man.

  6. jasonferruggia August 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Thanks guys.

    Bryon- me too.

    Jedd- I hear ya, man. I love that part of the DVD too. Good stuff.

  7. Bhusan August 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    That was really a great stuff………….

  8. clement August 24, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    Great post, Jay!

  9. Mike August 25, 2010 at 1:49 am #


    Great article…already forwarded it to a few friends who are newer to lifting.

    One question though: With the foam roller, what would you consider overuse time-wise?

  10. Guðmundur Pétursson August 25, 2010 at 3:15 am #

    Hi Jason
    If i follow your Maximum Mass program, like I have for ca 2 years, i have a Q about warmup.
    I usually do warmup for ca 10 minutes, and then i attack the program. Like the program says i do just 2 heawy sets for one excersise. I have felt like the setup in this great program is that one excersise warms up for the next. The only time i do more than 2 sets is like when the days program starts with f.ex. squats or deadlifts. Then i take one or two lighter sets prior to the two heawy ones. After that I am all warmed up, (boliling ;-) and go straight to f.ex. 2 heawy sets of back extensions.
    So the Q is: Do you take warm up sets in every excersise prior to the 2 heawy sets, … or am i doing this right ???
    Greetings from Iceland ;-)

    • jasonferruggia August 26, 2010 at 10:39 am #

      @Guðmundur Pétursson: I would do a minimum of one warm up on the other exercises, if not 2-3. The first big exercise of the day always needs 3-6 warm up sets.

  11. Matt McLaughlin August 25, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    Looks good.


    If you are starting to get aches and pains, it’s your body letting you know that if you keep pushing yourself at that pace, you are going to get injured.

    Back off a bit and build back up. The time delayed by being careful is much less than the time you’ll miss from an injury.

  12. Andy August 25, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    You forgot the tenet about the 25 sets of arm work and the required number of inches to raise your ass off the bench when bench pressing…..

    …..oh wait, those are the rules of most of the guys in my gym!

  13. Jocko August 25, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    Regarding #34: Would a full body x3 routine with one 3x4reps day, one 3x6reps day and one 3×8 reps day, and with both shoulder presses and chest presses on every workout be too much stress for the shoulders?

  14. Jason August 26, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Great tips. I think #1 is a good way to start. I see so many people doing random things then wonder why they do not see gains.

    With respect to the shrugs I find cleans help them grow too.

    Thanks for the tips

  15. Chase Karnes August 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Great Stuff, Jason.

    As for #5 what is your take on strongman training event days?

    My gym training days I’m always in and out in a hour. Event days last 2 hours usually – sometimes a bit longer. We have to take time to set up equipment, rest, let numerous people go, etc. Plus it gives a closer simulation of an actual competition.

    I always drink on a protein/carb drink during these workouts – usually consuming at least 600 kcal or more.

  16. Farley August 27, 2010 at 9:24 am #


    What do you consider a beginner? Someone who’s lifted 6 months, a year, 2 years, can’t bench their own body weight?

    Thanks man,

  17. Patrick Crews August 27, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I posted this piece of testament in my gym locker here Jax, FL. Thanks Jason!

  18. Bret Contreras August 28, 2010 at 1:59 am #

    Always great advice Jason!

  19. Dave August 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    As always, a great list of tips!

  20. Barry Gibson September 1, 2010 at 11:42 am #

    Awesome post – love the tips as always!!!

  21. Louis September 22, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    great post as always man

  22. Sameer October 18, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    Hello Sir. I am sameer frm india few past many months i am working out in gym there i can see the changes but after some time no change in my body so plz can you say me some trips so that i can see n feel change in my body . Thank you.

  23. Sameer October 18, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Hello. N plz if you know any supplements name or you want to me take gym supplements or not then plz send me some of them gym supplements names .. Thank you.

  24. Blake Chevins May 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Hey Jason,

    Im looking at a few tips on how to build muscle fast. Im turning 18 and been doing weights fairly regularly since i was 15. in the last 6 months I have gone from 72 kilos to 90. I have a physical job and my traps, shoulders and arms are getting bigger but I have noticed that my abs dont show as much as they use to. I do a variety of abdominal workouts but they dont seem to be helping, are there any tips or workout methods that you could give me an insight on to help??

    Much Appreciated,

  25. Alex February 14, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Jason,
    Awesome post !!
    Just 1 question.. i allready have elbow joint problems from heavy curling and extensions, how can i fight it or try to heal it ? Some kind of exercise or suplement ?
    Would really love your oppinion on this because it is starting to affect all my lifts :(

    • Jason Ferruggia April 20, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      @Alex- Tough to say from afar. But definitely avoid any exercise that bothers it. Also be sure to work the forearms and fingers. This can help

      • Alex April 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

        Yes, too much gripping and too litlle finger extension might be the problem.. will work on that.
        Thx 4 the help !!

  26. steve May 10, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Great tips on preparing before you go
    to the jym,
    I am one of those guys that get to the Jym
    then wonder what i am going to do next
    I will prepare for my next visit

  27. ayoubarade November 23, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    thank you :)

  28. Jim June 26, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Great tips Jason. Plenty of solid strength nuggets here.

  29. Matt July 16, 2013 at 1:57 am #

    this made me huge!!

  30. Matt October 15, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Nice tips

  31. Nick Collison October 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Love the article, Jay! Looking forward to the next podcast.

  32. Justin October 10, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    Jason, for #8, are you saying to do just one strength per workout, and a different one each workout?


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