From extreme sports to simple activities, weight-lifting is not the only way to increase your levels of strength or muscle mass. Leading a non-sedentary and active lifestyle can go a long-way in improving and toning your physique. The more active you are, the more healthier and stronger you will naturally become. Here is a list of 70 activities that can help you achieve this and more.
#1. Hiking – What a great alternative to doing the traditional leg curl or squat. Hiking up hills, mountains, or even the most flattest of lands can help you build up your quads, hamstrings, and calves. In addition to building up your strength, hiking is great for the cardiovascular system thus lowering your risk of heart disease, improving blood pressure, and improving bone density.
#2. Rowing – If you’ve ever watched House Of Cards on Netflix, then you know there’s a good reason as to why Kevin Spacey rows in almost every other episode. Rowing is an immensely powerful workout that is great for your back, arms, and shoulder. The continuous motion of rowing is really what adds to the challenge keeping your muscles in your upper body constantly activated.
#3. Rock Climbing – Rock climbing in itself is a very challenging yet rewarding sport that gives you a complete full body workout and will most surely increase arm strength, your back, neck, forearms, your thighs, and other muscles in your lower body … So yeah, basically everything!
#4. Cycling – It’s almost unusual to see the astounding number of benefits that comes with cycling alone. You might not think that cycling could be beneficial to this extent.. We’re talking a total makeover with your cardiovascular system, increased muscle strength, more flexibility, more joint mobility, improved posture, balance, and co-ordination, stronger bones, less body fat & a faster metabolism. If you’ve ever done a cycling class, you already know the challenges that await!
#5. Swimming – As we should all know, swimming is an amazing (and very fun) way to really improve your physique. It’s great at toning muscles, while building them at the same time. The reason for this is because of the resistance that the water gives to your entire body as you begin to thrust yourself forward. This might just be one of the best alternatives to weight lifting and resistance training.
#6. Kayaking – Another great way to improve strength here. Kayaking has been known to increase both your torso and leg strength from having to rotate your body while applying pressure with your lower body. Also great for improving your cardiovascular system.
#7. Backpacking – Sometimes confused with hiking, backpacking actually takes hiking to a new extreme. If you ever go backpacking, don’t forget your sleeping bag or to bring some extra clean clothes. This will ultimately add on a lot of weight to your hike resulting in a much more intense workout.
#8. Surfing – If one thing’s for sure, it’s that most surfers tend to have the kind of beach body that everyone tends to dream about and the reason for that is simple: Surfing requires an strong lower body and core as well as balance and posture to stay up on the board, resulting in an immensely strong body.
#9. Skiing – Did you know that skiing constantly puts you in that squat position, thus its ability to completely strengthen your lower body? It also improves flexibility, balance, and overall core strength.
#10. Snowboarding – Similar to skiing, snowboarding also works out the entire lower body. In addition to working out the lower body, you’re also working out your abdominal muscles because of the way you’re constantly required to move the board.
#11. Waterskiing – Capable of working out both your upper and lower body, waterskiing can be another preferable alternative to weight-lifting. Simply having to pull on the rope and hold your weight up will help improve your strength.
#12. Rafting – If you’ve ever gone white water rafting, then you already know how exhilarating of an activity this can be. It’s also very physical in nature as you fight your way through each wave and hurdle through natures wild rivers. It is particularly beneficial for strengthening your arms, back, and shoulders as you swiftly paddle against each current.
#13. Skateboarding – To become a great skateboarder, you need tons of physical endurance at your disposal. Skateboarding is excellent for building both lower and upper body strength due to the required need for balance, co-ordination, & precision. It’s no wonder why skateboarding has become such a popular and growing phenomenon in western culture. It’s also a great way for teenagers to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
#14. Roller Blading – Great way to build your upper low leg muscles, glutes, hips, and lower back muscles. Best of all, roller blading can be a lot of fun, so sometimes it doesn’t even feel like you’re really working out at all.
#15. Push-Ups – One of the most basic work-outs and yet, one of the most beneficial of all. Pushups are also convenient as they don’t normally require any weights on hand, other than your own body. Pushup benefits: Both strengthens & stretches your upper-body, promotes the release of HGH & testosterone, improves posture, and prevents injury in the shoulders & lower-back.
#16. Pull-Ups – If you’re looking to build a bigger back, then pull-ups are your one and only answer. Pull-ups are for your back as squats are for your legs. Take a look at this post to get the whole workout variety for pull-ups and chin-ups. By the way, it’s the compound movement provided by the pull-up that makes it so effective.
#17. Mountain Climbers – Great workout for the body as a whole, and the hip flexors specifically. Also great because it can be done right from home. Here are all the muscles that they workout: Hip abductors & adductors, triceps, biceps, deltoids, lower traps, abdominals, quads, and hamstrings.
#18. Additional Bodyweight Exercises – Body workouts can make weight-lifting a whole lot more convenient by being able to workout without any additional weights besides your body. Another benefit that is popularly attributed to bodyweight training is its effectiveness in working out your core and in helping you tighten up those abs. In addition to the strength-training benefits that it provides, they also allow you to burn fat more easily, re-gain your awareness in posture, and relieve stress and pain in the lower back. So if you’re at home and want to workout, but have no weights, give a bodyweight exercise routine a try.
#19. Boxing – The best thing about boxing for gaining strength is in its ability to greatly increase both endurance and stamina. In order to become efficient at boxing, you’re required to have an adequate amount of speed, strength, and endurance. This requires a highly pin-pointed method of training within in the gym. By taking a boxing class you’ll work on training your core as well as on exercises that increase a lot of the speed and motor qualities required as a boxer.
#20. Football – We all know football players require plenty of strength as well, but what exactly do they work on to build this strength? The foundation to gaining a good amount of muscle mass as a football player constantly requires that you require on the basic compound movements within weight-lifting. These can also be referred to as the squat, deadlift, overhead rows, and clean and press. If you want to build the maximum amount of muscle possible, then these are the exercises you should be working to improve.
#21. Wrestling – Wrestling requires a lot of commitment both in and outside the gym. If you’re looking for a toned yet muscular physique, then wrestling is your sport. It requires a constant check of your weight and calorie intake, as well as in your amount of strength. It’s the competitiveness of this sport that will make it an adequate way of making massive strives in your strength. Simply having to try and take your opponent down will alone build up muscles you probably never knew you had.
#22. Soccer – Contrary to popular belief, soccer requires much more strength than you might imagine. Not only does it require strength, but it requires on-going conditioning of your respiratory system. Soccer players must be agile, quick, strong, and flexible, all at once. You must be able to both run for long distances and sprint when necessary resulting in increased explosiveness. Sure, it might not need as much upper body strength as required in more physical sports, but don’t underestimate the sports absolute necessity for having to build a stronger lower body and core.
#23. Gymnastics – This sport is all about gaining strength with your own bodyweight and doing so in a progressive fashion. Gaining strength through gymnastics is therefore, more of a secondary affect rather than a direct one. Having to constantly balance yourself at all times and put your body in movements you wouldn’t be otherwise makes it a very demanding sport.
#24. Ballet – You’d be very surprised at just how demanding ballet is as a sport of its own. Dancers are required to have a very powerful upper and lower body just to make those leaps and turns in the air. As a ballet dancer you can expect to build up a very strong core, back and abdominal area as well as in the lower body.
#25. Hockey – We all no playing on ice with gear and a helmet is no joke. Your entire body must be strong, powerful, and explosive. Therefore, to be an efficient hockey player, these guys need to constantly work on their explosive movements by using things like medicine balls and kettlebells. They also need to establish a strong core by working on the basic compound movements.
#26. Baseball – As a baseball player, you must be quick on your feet also requiring a whole lot of explosive movement. It’s no wonder that the term “steroids” always seems to be associated with the big leagues. Baseball players must have a massively strong core and arms to hit that ball out of the park.
#27. Softball – Same as above.
#28. Rugby – If you’re looking to maximize your strength, speed, and agility in every way you can imagine, rugby is the sport for you. Rugby players require a lot of maximal weight training with compound exercises requiring a very low number of repetitions in order to lift the maximum weight possible and to make the most gains in the littlest amount of time as well.
#29. Lacrosse – Becoming a great lacrosse play requires a lot of work, commitment, and dedication. Your speed must be on point. Your strength needs to be way above average. And you need to be able to take a hit. Not only that but the fact that you’re constantly moving your body up and down in order to pick up the ball demands that you have a very strong lower back and hip area. If you want a great physique, try lacrosse as your next go-to sport.
#30. Karate – Believe it or not, but most martial art and karate students put very little emphasis on weight-training. It’s the sport itself and the movements and the actual act of fighting that’ll make you into a stronger karate student. So, if weight-lifting isn’t your thing, then Karate could just be the thing for you.
#31. Tae Kwon Doe – Taekwondo requires both strength and agility. Instead of focusing on doing minimal repetitions to get stronger, you’d be focusing a lot more on working out at a very high number of reps to get your body accustomed to the constant swings. Taekwondo students must have very powerful triceps, biceps, forearms, back, shoulders, and chest.
#32. Jiu jitsu – Focuses a lot on slow and controlled movements as well as explosive strength. This is a great alternative to wrestling if you’re into fighting.
#33. Kickboxing – Kickboxers clearly require a very strong and explosive lower body. You’ll need speed, strength, good movement, reflex, and focus.
#34. Aikido – Aikido is a Japanese sport that focuses a lot on practicing self-defense. It requires a lot of locking, holding, throwing, and anticipating the movement of your opponent. If what you’re looking for is a way to get stronger through self-defense movements, then Aikido is your sport.
#35. Western Boxing
#36. Yoga – Yoga could hypothetically be used as an alternative to weight-lifting due to simply having to lift and carry your own body-weight, which in turn makes you stronger. However, if you’re really looking to bulk up, then strength training is the more practical solution. But if you’re looking to get stronger without weights, yoga can definitely help you do this by increasing your muscle tone and definition. It also helps you increase your muscle in different ways by relying on eccentric contractions giving your muscle a more sleek and elongated appearance, whereas weight lifting does the opposite through concentric contractions, giving you that more bulky look. If you really want to increase your strength, try to incorporate both.
#37. Pilates – Besides increasing your strength and that of your core, pilates is known to greatly improve your posture, balance, and co-ordination. People normally claim that Pilates can give you a total change in the way your body feels through its great effectiveness in sculpting and toning your core.
#38. Tai Chi – Tai Chi is a practice that is actually able to increase strength without ever having to tense your muscles. Its a martial arts that completely focuses on you keeping your muscles relaxed. It improves both muscle strength and flexibility and its benefits have the advantage of being comparable in some respects to weight resistance training.
#39. Dancing – Not only can dancing make you feel better in everyday life, but it also helps build muscle and improve agility. Other benefits to dancing include stronger bones, improved well-being, greater self-confidence, better balance and co-ordination, better mental health, and a stronger upper and lower body.
#40. Kung Fu – Kung Fu consists of a drawn out process that requires you gradually work up your strength over years and years. It’s a much more relaxed martial arts than Karate. If you’re looking for a martial arts to increase strength at your own gradual pace, then try Kung Fu.
#41. Judo – Similar to Jiu Jitsu, Judo requires a ton of practice and patience. You’ll learn how to spar and self-defend yourself from various attacks. In class, you’ll do whatever you can just to stay on the mat for a mere 10 to 20 seconds. But as a result, Judo will teach you to naturally become more physical and aggressive. It’s a painful sport without a doubt. No pain, no gain.
#42. Kettlebell Workouts – The best alternative to not having a gym membership, must be being able to workout with a kettlebell at home. Using a kettlebell can go a long way in strengthening your core, your hips, and lower and upper body. It will also greatly increase your grip strength by learning to hold on to that kettlebell with any and every move you make. Kettlebell workouts can be a very effective way to improve your overall body strength.
#43. Plyometrics – Also known as jump-training, plyometrics will make you into a much stronger jumper by allowing you to increase your lower body strength. Plyometrics are very explosive in nature and focuses on squat jumps, lateral jumps, box jumps, and much more. Plyometrics is a much more intricate activity than it may appear from the outside.
#44. Calisthenics – This is one method you can use to increase your bodily strength without having any weights around. Calisthenics can involve exercises such as push ups, chest dips, pull-ups/chin-ups, squats without weights, lunges, crunches, calf raises, upside down shoulder press against the wall, and more. This is a great workout routine to do from home if you have to do without weights.
#45. Isometric Exercises – Consists of strength-training exercises where the angle of your joints and length of your muscles don’t change. Examples of isometric exercises include plank bridges, side bridges, shoulder raises, leg and hip extensions, and more. Exercises can be used with or without weights. Isometric is especially beneficial for muscle rehabilitation since it only uses static contraction. Also a great way to build up the core.
#46. Water Workouts – A great alternative to strength training and swimming is working out in water. The resistance of the water alone is what can help build up more strength. Also great for preventing and recovering from injury since there is very minimal impact on the joints.
#47. HIIT Training – Although, HIIT training is praised mainly for its highly effective weight loss capabilities, HIIT training can also be used to strengthen the body. Whether you’re using a sprinting technique or a push-up/rest method, HIIT training is very beneficial in a number of ways by allowing you to work your body at its maximum capacity followed by a minute or two of rest. This constant on-going interval will put both your muscles and respiratory system hard at work increasing your potential for maximum fat loss and strength training capabilities.
#48. Tree Climbing – Yes, tree climbing is actually a recreational sport requiring moving both up and down trees. Despite its danger, tree climbing can be used as a way to gain more bodily strength and endurance. We definitely recommending getting a some safety gear such as a saddle, harness, and tree climbing kit before giving this one a go 😉
#49. Ice Skating – Whether you’re figure skating or trying to become a better hockey skater, ice skating will undoubtedly help you strengthen your lower body, while allowing you to improve balance, posture, and co-ordination. Skaters will focus on movements & exercises such as the 3 Point Skater Touch, Low Walks (forwards & backwards), Crossover Walk, Lateral Skater Reach Shuffle, Abduction, and Adduction.
#50. Tennis – As a tennis player you must learn how to hit the racquet with the tennis ball with the maximum force possible. In order to do so you’ll need a strong core & hips, strong arms, and shoulders.
#51. Tug Of War – This game isn’t just a game, but a sport that is played around the world. To think that you’ll only need strong arms to win a game of tug of war, would be highly misconstrued. Not only will you need explosive strength from the both upper and lower body, but you’ll need an insanely strong grip as well.
#52. Arm Wrestling – Requires a strong grip, especially strong forearm power, and arms. Arm wrestlers use a combination of high speed, endurance, and strength training. They also place a lot of emphasis and focus on increasing the strength of their wrists for maximum grip strength.
#53. Wheelbarrowing – These exercises are great for the overall conditioning of your body. Reason is because you are required to move very heavy weights at very high speeds in a repetitive fashion leaving your body begging for air. This results in a very strong respiratory system and a much stronger core. Any effective wheelbarrowing exercise will include a strong grip, an engaged body and core, proper control of the wheelbarrow, and great form when sprinting. It takes practice, but is certainly an effective way of gaining more muscle mass.
#54. Indian Leg Wrestling – A fun little hobby for improving lower body and leg strength. Requires you to have stronger and more flexible legs than your opponent.
#55. Resistive Putty Exercises – Great way to build up hand strength and increase grip strength. Also used as a way to relax and for other therapeutic reasons.
#56. Gardening – Great moderate physical activity that’s great for keeping adults in better shape. Especially beneficial for keeping the hands and wrists strong and flexible. Studies have also shown that gardeners tend to have an improved amount of self-esteem and physical health than those who didn’t garden.
#57. Raking – Beneficial in that it requires use of the whole body.
#58. Pulling Weeds
#59. Landscaping – Looking to increase strength and make money at the same time? Try landscaping, which is one of the most physically demanding jobs out there. As a landscaper you are constantly on you’re feet, always carrying something heavy, and constantly bending up and down.
#60 Lawn Mowing
#61. Construction – Here is another one of the most physically demanding jobs available. Construction also always requires that you are always on your feet, carrying a lot of heavy items, and constantly building things, which requires you to have a lot of strength and muscle.
#62. Jumping Jacks – Type of calisthenics exercise that can make for a great way to warm-up before any workout or exercise. Jumping jacks can also be used as a way to improve the strength of your arms and legs, as well as in improving overall stamina. It’s also great for improving body mobility & flexibility.
#63. Hula Hooping – Said to be good for core strengthening and in keeping your muscles loose and flexible. It’s the hooping motion itself that is said to be good for strengthening the hips, core, and gluteal muscles.
#64. Jump Roping (or rope skipping) – It shouldn’t be surprising as to why we see so many professional sports players and movie actors jump roping before a professional event or as a means for better conditioning. Jump roping increases power, co-ordination, helps you jump higher, increases lower body strength, and endurance all by the simple act of jumping up.. and then down.
#65. Volleyball – As a volleyball player, you must be able to serve a great ball and to do so requires plenty of strength and power, specifically coming from your shoulders, hips, and lower body. You must also need to be able to work on your vertical jump and getting up as high and as quickly as possible in the air.
#66. Scuba Diving (or snorkeling) – Scuba diving will increase your level of fitness by simply having to move around in the water providing plenty of resistance not only to you, but to the gear that your carrying as well. In order to get around in the water efficiently you need to have good use of your fins and arms as you navigate through the water resulting in greatly increased strength.
#67. Body Boarding – Body boarding is a difficult sport that requires plenty of strength in your arms and a highly developed lower body for good balance. It also has its own cardiovascular benefits.
#68. Wakeboarding – Just like surfing, wake boarding requires an immensely strong core, lower, and upper body.
#69. Field Hockey – Another sport that requires plenty of strength.
#70. Weight Lifting – Yes, this one requires weights! But, is possibly the most effective way of gaining strength out there 🙂