When people write articles titled “How to build muscle without exercise,” they’re playing with semantics to trick you into thinking you can build muscle without exercise.

Truth is, you cannot build muscle without exercise.

So why are there articles out there with trick titles saying you can build muscle without any exercise?

Let’s take a look at one such misleading article on a health site that I stumbled upon which lists four ways to grow muscle without exercise.

The article lists the following ways to “build muscle without exercise.”

• Intensify regular activities. Example: carry more groceries at a time; take stairs instead of elevator; walk faster.

• Find new hobbies. Example: take up swimming or bicycle riding.

• Change your diet. A poor diet + sedentary living = thicker layer of fat over your muscle.

• Use your body weight. Example: do squats and lunges when at home, like while watching TV.

The trick article then points out that you don’t need a gym to build muscle.

The four suggestions are smart for improving health; don’t get me wrong.

The problem is that the author wants you to think that carrying more groceries, using stairs instead of elevator, walking faster, swimming, cycling, squatting and lunging aren’t exercise!

Ask a de-conditioned woman, who just struggled to carry two full grocery bags in EACH hand while walking to her car in a parking lot, if she didn’t just exercise.

Define “Exercise”

According to Webster’s online dictionary, “exercise” has multiple definitions including “regular or repeated use of a faculty or bodily organ.”

According to this definition, and how that de-conditioned woman feels after struggling with the heavy groceries or walking up five flights of stairs instead of using the elevator, the movements described in the trick article are very much EXERCISE.

Go ahead, do 50 squats (thighs parallel to the floor) while watching TV and then tell me you didn’t exercise. Toss some lunges in there too and tell me you didn’t exercise.

Go ahead, swim some laps, then hop on a bike and pedal for 20 minutes, especially up hills, and tell me you didn’t exercise.

If you’re out of shape and used to slowly walking your little dog for 10 minutes, pick up the pace – like 4 mph – and see if you don’t feel like you just exercised for those 10 minutes (which is good for your dog, too).

Now if a physically fit person can easily carry all those groceries and effortlessly climb five flights of stairs, this technically is still exercise: repeated use of a bodily organ.

What the trick article is essentially saying is that any movement outside the confines of a gym building doesn’t count as exercise, especially if you “use your body weight”!

Though it’s true that you can build muscle without a gym, this doesn’t mean non-gym workouts aren’t exercise.

Articles like that will find some way to manipulate semantics to fool gullible readers!

What really gets me is the “use your body weight” directive. According to this suggestion, pushups don’t count as exercise! Neither do pull-ups!

The suggestion of changing one’s diet to lose body fat is also quite erroneous: Eating healthful foods, in and of itself, will not build muscle. Any bodybuilder will tell you that.

HOWEVER, what and when you eat is very important for building muscle – in combination with strength training.

In short, you can eat all the healthy protein you want, but if you’re not doing weight-bearing exercise, you will not grow muscle.

The trickster article is also misleading in that it claims you can build muscle by increasing the pace of your everyday walking and taking stairs instead of elevators.

Sorry, but you will not “build” muscle by walking faster or replacing elevator use with staircases.

Muscle growth is called hypertrophy.

Though microscopic muscle growth will occur if you go from couch potato who never uses staircases to one who dumps the elevator at work and climbs the five staircase flights to his office every day, this still will not result in the visual change that people associate with “muscle growth.”

Thus, the concept of muscle growth needs to be defined in these misleading articles.

If swimming doesn’t build muscle, how do you explain the physiques of competitive swimmers, particularly Olympians’? Check out the legs of competitive cyclists.

Of course, casual swimming and recreational bike riding won’t build your physique like a competitive athlete’s, but non-visible muscle growth will indeed occur.

Your upper body and legs will get better at these activities as time goes on. How can that happen without muscle growth?

Believe me, if building muscle were as easy as quickening my walking pace, chucking elevators and carrying four bags of groceries at once, I’d be as big as the Hulk.

You absolutely cannot build muscle without exercise. You CAN without a gym. But not without exercise.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
Top image: Freepik.com
Source: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exercise