If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering how to stay in shape without heading to the gym. Since most of us don’t have bulky gym equipment at home, and since many sites are now sold out of handy workout accessories like weights and yoga mats, it’s time to get resourceful. You can stay fit and get a great workout just by using common items from around your house. Here’s a list of household items that can double as gym equipment, along with the best exercises to use them for.
We’re seeing a lot of them lately, but you might not have realized just how handy they are for fitness. Clear a space of about three feet so you can incorporate wall sits, a challenging glute and quad exercise, into your at-home workout.
Wall sits: Stand with your back against the wall and slowly lower into a sitting position with your knees at a ninety-degree angle and your back braced against the wall. Do three sets, holding for one minute each.
Want to give your lower body a good workout and get in plenty of cardio? Take the stairs. One hour of climbing the stairs burns approximately 1,000 calories! That’s a lot, but it might get pretty repetitive. Change it up by turning it into a HIIT-style workout (High Intensity Interval Training) and taking the stairs two at a time or at a faster pace for 30 seconds, and then pausing between laps for 10 seconds.
Towels are the at-home workout’s do-it-all accessory. Double them up on the floor for a cushy yoga mat so you can namasté in comfort. They can also be used as a resistance band for an intense abdominal workout. (If you’re craving the stretchiness of a resistance band, try using an old jersey t-shirt, instead.)
Sumo Twists: With feet apart, lower into a sumo squat with knees bent ninety degrees. Hold the towel above your head, arms bent so elbows are at shoulder height as if you were about to do a shoulder press. Holding the towel taut, twist your upper body with your left elbow toward your right knee, and then reverse. Do three sets, with 10 repeats for each side.
Laundry detergent, milk or juice jugs, and other bottles make good swaps for hand-held weights, as long as they have a handle. Even an empty one will do—just fill it with water, and you’ll have the perfect weight for toning your back and triceps with a bent-over row.
Bent-over Rows: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and bend over so your upper body is almost parallel with the floor. Holding the detergent bottle in one hand (if you have two, you can work out both sides at the same time), lift that weight until your elbow is in line with your hip, and lower back down. Do three sets of 15-20 repeats each.
Those cans of beans, soup, or vegetables that you have stored in the pantry make great hand-held weights. Easy to hang onto, their lower weight is perfect for high-rep exercises. Remember that 16 oz is one pound, and you can use them for a ton of different exercises, including bicep curls, and lower body busters like loaded lunges.
Loaded Lunges: Holding a soup can in each hand, lower into a lunge. Your back leg should be straight behind you, while your weight-bearing leg in front should have your knee above your ankle and bent at ninety degrees. Pulse up and down in the lunge position for 30 seconds, and then swap legs. For a bonus burn, jump back and forth to swap legs. Do three sets of ten repeats for each side.
An oblong laundry basket with handles is best, if you have one. Fill it with clothes if it isn’t already, or, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, increase the weight by adding a few books. Laundry baskets are perfect for deadlifts, which target the hamstrings, glutes, and core.
Deadlift: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, basket on the floor in front of you. Engage your core, glutes, and thigh muscles to bend down and lift the laundry basket as you stand up, keeping your back straight. Put the basket down again for one repeat. Deadlifts are most effective doing low reps with a high weight, so you might want to save this one for last—it’s a great finisher.
Reusable grocery bags, a small gym bag, or a backpack will work for this one as well, preferably something with handles. Load it up with your heaviest paperbacks off your bookshelf to give you a challenging but manageable weight for the following full-body exercise.
Squat and Press: Holding the bag in front of you, close to the body, start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat, as deep as you can go without rounding your lower back, then return to standing. Follow up by lifting the tote bag above your head. Do three sets of as many repeats as you can.
Don’t forget that there are dozens of exercises you can do using just your own body weight, like push-ups, sit-ups, and one of the most efficient full-body exercises out there: the plank.
Plank: Resting your weight on your hand or elbows, hold your body in a straight position, as if you were about to do a push-up. Engage your core and make sure your back is straight, rather than curved or arched. Hold for 1 minute, and repeat 3 times.
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