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These Household Items Can Double As Workout Equipment

With gyms across the country shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, fitness lovers everywhere are finding creative ways to get moving at home.

Unless you already have a sweet home gym set-up (kudos!), though, the sweat-at-home struggle can be quite real. After all, dumbbells, kettlebells, weight sets, and other types of fitness equipment seem to be sold out everywhere.

But don’t give up on your home workouts just yet, folks. You can still flex your muscles—as long as you flex your imagination first. Look around your home and, chances are, you’ve got all sorts of household items that can double as workout equipment. Here are the best swaps for every piece of fitness gear you’re yearning for.

Instead Of Dumbbells…

Do you typically turn to dumbbells to perform moves like bicep curls, shoulder presses, lateral and front raises, skull crushers, front squats, and Romanian deadlifts? Luckily, loads of household items double as this type of workout equipment pretty easily, according to Minneapolis-based trainer Holly Janiszewski, C.P.T., C.E.S., P.E.S.

  • Liters of soda or seltzer
  • Bottles of wine
  • Canned foods
  • Laundry detergent containers
  • Jars of pasta sauce
  • Water bottles

Stick to lighter swap-ins for isolation moves like bicep curls and whip out the big guns (like full containers of laundry detergent) for compound moves like deadlifts. Not sure what to do? Check out these dumbbell moves, which build muscle and torch calories.

Instead Of Kettlebells…

Kettlebells are famous for their versatility—and you can totally reap the benefits with household items. Janiszewski recommends:

  • Backpack (filled as much as desired)
  • Gallon-sized plastic jug (filled as much as desired)
  • Laundry detergent container

Hold these items by their handles to perform swings, rows, or curls, says Janiszewski. If the detergent container or gallon jug are hard to grasp, slip a towel through the handle and hold onto the ends of that. (This five-move kettlebell circuit fires up every muscle.)

Instead Of A Bench…

Benches come in handy for both upper- and lower-body movements—but which of the following home swaps you should use depends on which you’re doing.

  • Chair, couch, or coffee table
  • Stairway

A chair, couch, of coffee table works well for dips, Bulgarian split squats, and incline or decline pushups, since you won’t put your entire body weight on the surface. Stairs, meanwhile, are best for step-ups, since they can handle your full body weight.

Instead Of A Sandbag…

Sandbags are a unique workout tool because their weight (a.k.a. the sand in them) shifts around as they move, which keeps your body guessing throughout any exercise you perform with them. To get the same vibe at home, use:

  • Bag of cat or dog food
  • Duffle bag or backpack (filled as desired)

Use these tools for ‘sandbag’ cleans, presses, front squats, and snatches. You can also use them as a makeshift sled to perform slow sled pushes across the floor, says Lauren Kanski, C.P.T., coach at Performix House in New York City.

Instead Of A Medicine Ball…

Medicine balls are king of all sorts of core work, but your abs don’t have to suffer if you’re stuck at home without one. Any type of ball gets the job done:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer ball
  • Volleyball

Obviously, these options weigh less than a medicine ball, but you can still use them for exercises like wall tosses, Russian twists, side tosses, and push-ups. Put one hand on the ball and the other on the floor, Janiszewski says.

Instead Of Gliders Or Sliders…

Gliders and sliders are simple tools often used for for abs- and stability- focused exercises. Luckily, they’re super-easy to replace with household items, like:

  • Towels
  • Socks

“Find a slippery surface like hardwood or tile, and do mountain climbers, lateral lunges, and hamstring curls,” Janiszewski says. To focus on your core, try exercises like knee tucks and body saws.

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