Building Up Strength Without A Gym

nike hijab runner

I like to think we've all been here. Wanting to workout at a gym but then once you venture out to a gym to take a look at your options you realize gym memberships are extremely pricey, and let's not forget the random hidden fees that they don't tell you about. Since September, I've been building up my strength through home workouts alongside my running as going to the gym wasn't an option for me because I couldn't justify spending X amount and it not being worth X amount.

From the long ride of September to March, I now have a base of what I personally use to build my strength. At the beginning of March, I came across a gym that was within my price range and! has a pool! and no hidden fees! Although now I do go to a gym, I do personally do a variation of these at the gym or continue to do some at home on the days I'm road running as I find them extremely helpful.

So, let's get started!

Nike Training App: 4 - Week Guide to Build Strength 

In my training, prior to having a gym membership, what I did was run one day and then do a workout in the order they had it in, and repeat. One thing I really liked was that I felt myself becoming stronger than I previously was before doing this. There is also a workout day called Leg - pocalypse Now and I can confirm, my legs died but were happy about it. 

Strength + Stability 

One thing that I noticed was that my calves really need some lovin'. As a runner, my calves are constantly working overtime, this means that without strong calves goodbye running in general. By not having strong calves, shin splints were normally on the horizon while I'd cross my fingers hoping it'd pass me - one thing I will say is that once I've come back from an injury I am always so scared that I'll be sidelined again. There are a couple of videos that have helped me with calf strength + also stability training (in which I notice me and balance don't actually know each other).

This video is actually aimed for people who do ballet. Do I do ballet? No, no I do not. HOWEVER, what ballet-rs + runners have in common is that your calves are super important and in the words of the woman in the video 'As dancers, your calves take a lot of beating'. My legs actually died the first few times I did this, but it's so so worth it! I 100% believe it's one of the reasons me and shin splints haven't met up for tea in 2019 so far. I even sometimes do these exercises as I'm warming up on the track!

runner holding yoga mat
you don't even wanna KNOW about the outtakes

Now remember how I said me and balance don't know each other? Yeah, so this is where this workout is my saving grace. In the video, the person uses a Kettlebell and a barbell. Now, if you are at home and do not have a Kettlebell or a barbell (who actually has a barbell lying around??) then that's also okay! Use what you have! In the beginning, I actually used a trick-or-treat basket and filled it with some heavy things to lift. As for a barbell, I used a plastic baseball bat that I had - obviously, not heavy but I did want to do the exercise balanced on one leg.

Also, a really great exercise is to put 2 mini cones (if you have) / 2 water bottles /literally 2 rocks - anything - just 2 of whatever it is you choose a small distance apart.  Hop from side to side - in line with the two things you chose - on one leg with your other leg bent for about a minute. I saw Zeina Nassar (Boxer from Germany) do this in her Instagram Story and wow my calves weren't ready. Also, she's actually AMAZING if you want to check her out, I really can't recommend her enough!

Core Workout

Ah yes, we're here. The section that most runners focus on - their core. Most videos that I've done focussing on core, I always end up wondering am I doing this properly? Am I supposed to be feeling something over here or there? Is my form right? And then, Stacey Ervin Jr dropped a 10 minute ab workout and my ab workout life started to make sense.

Now, I'm not saying if you do this workout once you're going to have a 6-Pack. What I'm saying is this workout is going to help you get to that 6-Pack as you do it continuously. The first time I did this, I actually didn't have to ask myself Am I doing this right? because when I tell you I felt the burn, I FELT IT. 

Also, for the longest time, I've been doing Russian Twists wrong - and then he mentioned how your elbow should come all the way across - that's how I stopped feeling anything in my back. Since I felt it in my back and not my abs I knew I was doing it wrong for the longest time, after watching + hearing him explain VWALLA I can finally do a Russian Twist properly.

Also you may be wondering who Stacey Ervin Jr. is and what his credentials are: He is a U.S. Gymnast and now a Professional Wrestler (WWE).


Now, this section is really just dedicated to jump rope. How long has it been since you yourself skipped rope? I'm pretty sure we all had that dream to be a professional at double dutch. Have you seen the Disney Movie Jump In? I came across jump ropes after seeing Georganne Moline running while jumping rope and Chari Hawkin's also discussing how beneficial it is to jump rope:

I’ve been doing a lot of jump rope lately, and I’m telling you it’s a killer! My @rxsmartgear fam taught me a thing or two so that I can maximize the cardio work I do when I jump. . Benefits of jump rope workouts: ✨strengthens foot, ankles, joints allowing for lower risk in injuries. ✨amazing cardio workout. ✨improves coordination. ✨improves bone density. ✨a workout you can take and do anywhere. ✨tones and slims arms. ✨increases brain function . If you don’t already incorporate jump rope in your workout routine, I REALLY recommend it! . The ropes I use are Rx Smart Gear and when I say I’ve never used a better jump rope I mean it 👏. . . . #jumprope #cardio #positivevibes #followyourdreams #tracknfield #trackandfield #track #roadtodoha #lovelife #cardiothatisntrunning
A post shared by Chari Hawkins (@_charihawkins) on

I've been incorporating some jump rope in my training and I've forgotten how fun it is! I think I still have to cut the rope a bit to get it to my height as it seems a bit long, but it's bearable!

Runner holding jump rope
hello i think this is my fav photo ever that is all - thank u tripod remote for existing 

And there we have it! How to build your strength if going to the gym isn't an option for you at the moment! A word of advice: Do not let your lack of equipment stop you from doing a workout / anything - use what you have and don't thinking about what you don't. Before buying a jump rope, I actually just jumped in place the way I would be jumping if I had a jump rope.

The more I thought of how much I didn't have a gym membership and the negative affects of that (strength build up not being as great) the more I hated working out. Fill your mind with positive thoughts on what you have - since working out at home I am pretty disciplined with my fitness and do not need the environment of a gym to keep me going - just myself and my drive to be a better athlete than I was yesterday. 

I would like to note, if you are an avid gym goer - this post I made a while back is pretty much still the format I use whenever I go to the gym: July Gym Routine + Tips - I discuss/give tips on how to increase your weight lifting, machines and also explain reps in a set etc.! 

Also, the hardest part of working out is literally getting ready to workout - putting your workout clothes on and sneakers. Trust me when I say you may not enjoy every workout you do, but you'll be happy that you did them at the end of the day. Some days are harder than others, but keep showing up - you'll end up surprising yourself at how amazingly you excel. You can do this, you will be able to run faster than you currently run, you will be able to lift a heavier amount, you will have a strong strong core - just keep going and stay consistent and you're already halfway there.

me being a goofball
I'm not even sure what I'm doing in this photo but uh hi


  1. I absolutely love doing strength workouts, and there are some amazing ones on YouTube!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

    1. YouTube has a lot of amazing home workouts for building strength - it's all about finding the right one that works for you! Thank you so much for reading!

  2. THANK YOU for this post! I don't go to the gym but I'm really looking to build my strength and tone up at the moment. I do a lot of Yoga which is great for me but I do feel like I need that little extra. So this was super handy!


    1. YAY so happy to hear it was helpful! I do some yoga from time to time as it helps with flexibility - actually got into Yoga after reading your post on Yoga with Adriene! I really hope you enjoy doing the workout videos I mentioned, thank you so much for reading!

  3. I'm going to check out the core workouts because they're also so important as a cyclist and triathlete. I also have a few workouts for at home because I can't always hit the gym... And never underestimate a Russian twist 😜😅

    1. The core workout is insane, for 10 minutes moving from one thing to the next! It's honestly great to do either everyday / every other day as a standalone or with whatever training you're doing that day - it's perhaps the only ab workout video where I KNEW it was working/what each exercise was working out.

      I really did underestimate the Russian Twist, never again! WhEW I think my abs are still recovering from doing the workout yesterday!

      Thank you so much for reading!

  4. All good ideas! For now I might focus on jump roping because that seems the simplest way of doing other things than I am already doing.

    I always love reading about your work outs, very inspirational!

    Good luck @ getting stronger and faster.

    1. Jumping rope is honestly so much fun - you'll love doing it! Thank you so so much for reading, I'm so happy to hear you enjoy reading about my workouts!

  5. I love this post! I actually do have a gym membership but honestly much prefer working out at home- plus it saves me a car journey. I'll definitely be heading over to Chari's Instagram, I love getting inspiration over there that's so easily accessible!
    Soph - x

    1. YAY so happy to hear you enjoyed reading it! Sometimes a home workout is just what you need, I like mixing and matching between going to the gym and doing home workouts.

      And yes! Chari is amazing, always so inspired by her posts; whenever I'm on instagram - since I follow a lot of athletes - it's great motivation to get a workout in for the day!

  6. I've stopped going to the gym in recent weeks and opted instead for exercising at home. Youtube is a great resource for exercising and weight loss. The info you have given in this post is really helpful and I'll be trying out some of your suggestions, Thank you for sharing xxx


    1. Sometimes home workouts are just what you need - YouTube has a lot of options for exercise videos and tips, it's all about finding the one that's right for you. So happy to hear this post was helpful, thank you so much for reading!

  7. Thank you SO much for this post!! I've been wanting to join the gym for so long but I keep putting it off due to time and money and general laziness haha, but reading the way you've built your strength up and kept fit without the gym as well, has definitely encouraged me to try some of these tips out! I think even if I did join the gym soon, these home workouts are super beneficial too so will try a mix of both! Thanks for sharing x

    1. So glad to hear it was helpful! The process of going to the gym can be hard and also expensive depending on where you are - home workouts are a great alternative to maintain/build your strength + in the comfort of your home! Home workouts are great to do even if you do have a gym membership too yes! I personally love doing some workouts at home some days - thank you so much for reading!

  8. Confession time: I'm SO lazy when it comes to strength workouts. I hardly ever miss a run, but strength? Erm...maybe I complete one in every five. And that's probably being kind to myself. I have the NTC app and I do really like the variety it offers. As for the ballet workout, I'M SO GLAD YOU SAID THIS. I think as runners we often make the mistake of thinking our legs are taken care of. But whenever I do workouts like this that target muscles slightly differently, I think I'm going to die. It's crazy how you can know you're fit/ in good shape but still feel totally destroyed when you switch to a different style of workout. I really enjoyed this! Even though I have a gym membership, I usually prefer home workouts for strength training anyway so this was really helpful! x


    1. I used to be so so lazy with strength training too! Running? You got it, I'll never miss a run, and then some injuries came on the horizon and and whenever I googled what/why/how to prevent from happening, I ended up on articles mentioning building strength *outside* of running - I quite literally remember scratching my head like what??? I'm pretty sure running is enough exercise what

      YES! I always thought to myself leg strength workouts?? Running is enough for my leg strength. "But whenever I do workouts like this that target muscles slightly differently, I think I'm going to die." - me after the ballet workout. I remember thinking after the first few times I did it why are my legs lil noodles my whole life is a lie

      I completely agree - we can feel extremely fit, but when we do a workout that targets our muscles differently than we're used to, it's like are we REALLY fit haha. So happy to hear you enjoyed reading! If you choose to do any of the workouts I mentioned, I'd love to know what you think of them!