A fully-loaded home gym is certainly a lovely luxury. But if you want to break a sweat and get in a good workout, it's definitely not necessary. In fact, you probably have all the equipment you need for a great workout lying around your house.
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Before you abandon your workout plans, gather some of these common household items and start busting out the reps. Plus, Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness on the NEOU App, has given you the perfect exercises to pair with your DIY equipment.
1. Hand Towel
Forzaglia recommends using small hand towels in place of gliders (sliders) on a hardwood or tile surface. In fact, tossing a towel into just about any exercise can add some instability to the move, making it more difficult. Try these towel reverse lunges and hamstring curls — we guarantee you'll feel the burn!
Move 1: Towel Reverse Lunge
- Start standing straight up with your feet at about hip-width distance. Place a towel underneath your right foot.
- Keeping your left leg rooted, begin to slowly bend at the knee and bring the hips back.
- Slide your right toes along the ground, extending your right leg behind you.
- Lower your body until your left leg reaches about a 90-degree angle.
- Then, with most of your weight in your left leg and glute, glide your right leg back to the starting position.
This move requires a lot of strength and stability, so don't be discouraged if it's too challenging! Feel free to hold a chair to improve your balance.
Move 2: Towel Hamstring Curl
- Begin lying flat on the ground with your arms at your sides. Put a towel under your feet and place your feet flat on the ground with knees bent.
- Come into a glute bridge, raising your hips up to the ceiling, while keeping your shoulder blades, arms and head on the floor.
- Gliding along the floor, extend your legs out in front of you until they're as straight as possible. As you extend, try your best to maintain the glute bridge position, keeping your hips off the ground.
- Then, use your hamstrings to curl the towel back to the starting position.
Extend your legs as far as you can keep good form and comfortably bring them back toward the body. If your legs are still bent at the end of your range of motion, that's totally fine.
2. Heavy Backpack
Time to dig through your closet and find an old backpack. Fill up the bag with all kinds of random weighted items, Forzaglia says. Look for old textbooks, heavy water bottles or even heavy fruits (think: melon) you may have.
Move 1: Backpack Back Squat
- Put the backpack on, tightening the straps so that it sits on the upper part of your back and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your hands straight out in front of you, shoot your hips back and begin to bend at the knees.
- Keep your back flat and squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the ground.
- Press through your heels and push your hips forward to return to standing.
If you want to get an even deeper squat, you can elevate your heels with two books about the same size.
Move 2: Backpack Bent-Over Rows
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, grabbing each end of heavy backpack with your hands.
- Shoot your hips back and with a flat back, bend your knees slightly and hinge forward.
- Holding this bent-over position, extend your arms, holding the backpack.
- On an exhale, row the back pack toward your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Then, bring the backpack back down.
3. Case of Water
If you have a case of water bottles, they make an excellent heavy load for front squats and front-loaded lunges. If you don't have a case handy, you can also fill a suitcase with heavy objects. Have both items at home? Place the bottles into the suitcase for an extra challenge (or a better way to grip the weight).
Move 1: Water Case Front Squats
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the case of water and hold it across your chest at shoulder height, bending at the elbows.
- Shoot your hips back and bend your knees. Keeping your back flat and chest up and out, squat toward the ground until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Then, exhale and press through your heels to return to standing.
If the water bottles are too heavy, take a few bottles out of the case to lighten the load. As you squat, make sure to keep your core active and braced to stabilize the weight.
Move 2: Front-Loaded Forward Lunges
- Stand with feet at shoulder-width apart. Grab the case of water and hold it across your chest at shoulder height, bending at the elbows.
- Root your right foot into the ground and step forward with your left, leaving a few feet of space between your feet.
- Simultaneously bend your right and left knee until your front knee comes to 90 degrees and the back knee hovers just above the ground.
- On an exhale, return to standing and bring the legs back together.
- Repeat on the other leg.
If front lunges feel too challenging, swap for a reverse lunge, which are generally easier to perform and safer on sensitive knees.
4. Cans of Soup or Tomato Sauce
Take a few moments to dig through your pantry and you're likely to find an old can of soup or tomato sauce. These non-perishables make a great dumbbell alternative (and a great lunch after your workout is through).
Move 1: Soup Can Biceps Curls
- Begin standing up straight with a can of soup in each hand.
- With palms facing away from your body, curl the cans up toward your shoulders.
- As you curl, keep your elbows close to your sides.
- Once the cans are at shoulder height, squeeze the biceps.
- Then, slowly bring the cans back down to the starting position.
Move 2: Tomato Sauce Triceps Extensions
- Begin standing with a can of tomato sauce in each hand.
- Raise the cans straight over your head and bring them together.
- Keeping your elbows fixed, lower the cans behind your head, bending your elbows.
- Then, extend the cans straight back overhead.
If you don't have two cans, you can do both of these moves with one arm and then switch sides.
5. Water Jug
A gallon of water is the perfect go-to if you're short on equipment. Fill up the bottle as heavy as you'd like and you can use this tool time and time again.
Move 1: Water Jug Shoulder Press
- Begin standing with feet about hip-width apart or start in a seated position.
- Bring the water jug to shoulder height.
- On an exhale, press the jug straight up over your shoulder.
- As you press the bottle straight up, keep your core braced and avoid overarching your back.
- Slowly lower the jug back to your shoulder.
- Do all your reps on one side before repeating on the other side.
Move 2: Gallon Chest Press
- Begin lying on the ground on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees raised.
- Hold a water jug in each hand and bring them to chest level.
- On an exhale, press the water jugs straight above your chest.
- Then, lower the jugs until your elbows touch the ground.
6. Living Room Couch
While you won't be squatting your couch, it can still make a great exercise tool. Or, if you're in a smaller space, a chair will do the trick, too.
Move 1: Bulgarian Split Squats
- Begin standing three feet away from the couch, feet at hip-width distance.
- Face away from the couch and raise your foot up onto the couch, toes curled underneath your foot.
- Keeping your weight in your left leg, bend your left knee to 90 degrees.
- At the same time, bend your back leg until it hovers just above the ground.
- On an exhale, straighten your legs to return to standing.
Move 2: Incline Push-Up
- Begin in a high-plank on the couch or chair, hands on the seat in line with your shoulders.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Bend your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your ribs and lower toward the couch until your chest touches the cushion.
- On an exhale, press into the couch and return to the high plank.
You can also use the couch for a decline push-up, which is a more challenging variation. You'll perform a standard push-up but with your feet elevated on the couch cushions.