Home Exercises

No Gym, No Problem: How to Work Out at Home

Our gym at home by Suzette Pauwels
Our gym at home by Suzette
Pauwels

So, how are you doing with your new year’s resolutions? Popular surveys show that, unfortunately, the majority of us don’t stick to our resolutions past the first two weeks of the year. Why? We set unrealistic goals such as going from zero gym sessions to multiple workouts a week or completely cutting out fried foods from our diet (you know that’s over as soon as you eat out with friends). We also tend to get discouraged quickly, usually as soon as we fail or miss our goal once. Finally, with the fast-paced, instant-gratification lifestyle that many of us live, perseverance is pretty hard to practice.

If you’re among the many Torontonians who resolved to exercise more and lose that holiday weight, you’re probably finding that making the time and finding the drive to hit the gym even a couple of times a week are big challenges. With the cold temperatures and the early sunsets, it’s so tempting to “start my workout tomorrow” and go straight home after work to cozy heating and the TV.

But you know what? Just because you’ve decided to skip the gym doesn’t mean you have an excuse to skip the workout! You don’t need to leave the comfort and warmth of your own home to stay in shape; there are plenty of household items that work as great substitutes to gym equipment. Even just gravity and your body weight are enough to give you a good workout. So stop procrastinating! Keep reading to discover the many exercises you can do with no gym equipment, and start hitting your fitness goals.

Gym equipment substitutes

Dips by Wikimedia Commons
Dips by Wikimedia Commons

Here are several common items found around the home that double as workout gear:

Backpack: Since a backpack is made to carry weight, can be strapped close to your body, and keeps your hands free, it makes for a great piece of exercise equipment. You can fill the backpack with whatever (books and canned food are great choices), adding weight to adjust to your fitness level. Make sure you strap on the backpack tight, because you wouldn’t want a heavy backpack to shift around and possibly hurt your back while you’re performing exercises.

Bucket of water: This is another great choice because you can easily adjust the weight by filling the bucket with various levels of water. You can further adjust the weight by using buckets of different sizes. Keep in mind that you need a bucket with a handle to perform exercises and minimize spilling.

Milk or juice bottles with handles: The advantage to these plastic bottles is that they have a cap, so you don’t have to worry about spilling water during exercises that turn the weight horizontally. However, compared to water buckets, these hold less water and thus less weight.

Shopping bags: This is basically a dry version of the water buckets. You don’t have to worry about spilling water, and you can fill the bags with whatever you have lying around. Don’t overload the bags, though, because we all know how easily they break!

Large boxes or storage containers: If you have big boxes or lidded plastic containers that you use for storage or for moving, fill them with items and they become weights that you can lift with both hands. Since these containers are big, you can continue to add weight and challenge your muscles as you progress in your workouts.

Chairs and stools: These seating surfaces can double as raised platforms for upper body exercises such as dips and pushups. However, don’t use chairs with wheels.

Staircases and ledges: In addition to serving as elevated surfaces for dips and pushups, a staircase step, a doorstep, or the ledge of a patio are all great for doing step-ups or step aerobics.

Now that you know what you can use to substitute for gym equipment, let’s take a look at the exercises you can do with them.

Home exercises

Pushup by Helen Cook
Pushup by Helen Cook

The following exercises link to topendsports.com, a great site for workout, nutrition, and sports information.

Pushup (can be done with a backpack, chair, or ledge)

Dip (can be done with chairs, a ledge, or a backpack worn front-wise)

Bent-over row (with juice bottle or shopping bag)

Dead Lift (with water buckets, juice bottles, or shopping bags)

Squat (with water buckets, juice bottles, or shopping bags)

Lunge (with juice bottles or shopping bags)

Step up (need a step or ledge, with water buckets, juice bottles, shopping bags, or a backpack)

You can start doing these exercises without using any additional weights to get your body accustomed to them, and then add in light weights after two weeks to start challenging your muscles. Also, stretching after a workout is very important, as it helps to avoid injury, alleviate soreness, and get your muscles stronger.

So what are you waiting for? Throw on some upbeat music, grab your home workout gear, and follow through on your resolution!

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