How To Build Muscle On A Budget

It all adds up: the gym membership, the personal trainer to make sure you actually go, the kit that means you don’t feel embarrassed being there. Getting fit can seem like a hefty investment. But even though some protein shakes aren’t much off the cost of a pint, getting hench doesn’t have to be the preserve of the moneyed. And no, we’re not suggesting you start filling up milk bottles with sand and curling tins of beans. Read on for some smart ways to be fit and thrifty.

Go Hard, At Home

You don’t need Arnie’s garage to exercise at home. What you do need is some expert direction to keep you on track. YouTube workouts by the likes of Joe ‘The Body Coach Wicks and Fitness Blender are free guides to torch loads of fat in little time – with no outlay. Then when you’ve finished throwing yourself about, Yoga With Adriene will help keep you injury-free. Finally, laugh at BroScienceLife and be glad you’re not paying a fortune to be surrounded by meatheads at the gym. If you invest in only one piece of home workout kit, make it a chin-up bar. Every other bodyweight move can be done with no equipment, but the pull-up is a killer six-pack builder that burns fat and builds muscle, especially if you do a training programme designed for it. York Fitness Door Gym, available at Amazon, priced £14.99.

York Fitness Door Gym

Go Outside

Don’t fancy swinging in doorways? Most parks now feature at a chin-up bar, often a dip station. If yours doesn’t, then football posts, a climbing frame or even a tree branch are solid stand-ins (just make sure the branch is actually solid first). Bodyweight exercises are just as good for building muscle as pumping iron. Combine pull-ups and dips in a circuit with press-ups, crunches, squats and sprints to get the kind of lean definition you normally see on Olympic gymnasts.

Use bodyweight exercises to build muscle on a budget


You might have money for a gym membership, but the people to explain don’t come free. PTs provide motivation (and peace of mind when you’re lifting spine-bending weights) but they also empty your wallet. And the outlay doesn’t always buy great advice. The one thing this author learnt in five years working for fitness magazines is that if you ask 20 PTs a question, you’ll get 20 different answers back. Instead, if you have a burning query about your training or nutrition head to a reputable online forum such as r/fitness on Reddit. It’s heavily moderated and populated by gym geeks from all over the world, who are there to help, not separate you from your hard-earned. Ask a question and you’ll likely still get 20 different answers back – but they’ll be backed up by studies, and be completely free. And you can channel the less kind comments into motivation for that final squat set.

Internet forums are a great resource for training tips

Depend On The Kindness Of Strangers

Free group training sessions are becoming more prevalent, run in equal parts by big sports brands and friendly community types. London has everything from midnight runs to Adidas and Nike training clubs; there are calisthenics crews such as Block Workout Foundation that welcome anyone to their sessions; and you can even get free crash courses in swimming courtesy of Speedo. Alternatively, do the trick from Bridesmaids: exercise close enough to a paid outdoor class to hear the instructor, but just far enough away that they don’t try and stop you. Just be prepared to finish your session with a sprint if they catch you.

Save On Fuel

Protein is the building block of muscle. Protein shakes are an effective way to hit your intake, but it can be an expensive way to your RDA. Instead, buy tinned tuna and cheap meats such as frozen chicken and mince. Look for offers and you shouldn’t have to spend more than a pound on each portion. Bringing your own lunch to work is also one of the simplest ways to save cash and ensure your diet isn’t undoing any of your hard work. Batch cooking is a chore at first, but get into the Sunday habit of preparing and freezing a week’s worth of meals and you’ll save money and time. Still desperate for some protein powder? Look for voucher codes and buy from sellers (with good ratings) on Amazon and eBay to save up to 50 per cent on the RRP.

Look for discounts when buying protein shakes

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