How to Workout at Home Without Equipment or Weights

Fitness experts spend so much time thinking about how to motivate people to go to the gym that often the fact that not everyone has a good gym to go to gets overlooked. Rather than drain your wallet and clutter your home with exercise equipment (that might just end up collecting dust, anyway), Peter Walsh, author of Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight, with Liz Davis, MS, trainer, bodybuilder, and exercise physiologist, say you can create your own gym with items you already have at home.

Milk Jugs

Replace your dumbbells with milk jugs, filled either with water or sand. Best of all, you can easily adjust the weight to your ability level. Davis recommends using them for bent-over rows:milk-jug-bent-over-rows

Stand with one foot in front of the other, feet about 2 feet apart, while holding a milk jug in one hand. Use the other hand to support yourself by placing it on your thigh. Keeping your knees slightly bent and your upper body straight, lean forward at the hips roughly 45 degrees. Extend your hand down toward the floor at chest level.

Slowly pull your elbow back behind your body, bringing the object in your hand up to the side of your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together during this motion. Lower the object back down and repeat as necessary. Switch sides and perform the exercise on the other side.

shoulder presses with cans

While we don’t recommend eating out of cans, they’re a great size, shape, and weight to use as fitness equipment. Davis suggests using them for shoulder presses:

Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. You can do the exercise empty-handed or hold a soup can or other object in each hand. Begin with your hands up even with your ears, with your elbows bent at roughly 90 degrees. Press your hands up and over your head until your arms are straight up but your elbows aren’t locked.

Lower your hands down until your elbows are once again bent at roughly 90 degrees. As you do so, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Repeat as necessary.


You know what a workout schlepping a heavy bag around an airport can be, so bring that same hard work home. Replace a bulky barbell with a sturdy duffel bag filled to your comfort level, and use it for biceps curls.Bicep Curl with Luggage

Stand with your feet close together. Hold the duffel bag in front of you with both hands, with your arms extended toward the floor and your palms facing up and away from you.

Lift your hands upward toward your chest, holding your elbows stationary at the sides of your abdomen. Avoid leaning back as you lift the duffel bag. Lower your hands back down and repeat as necessary. You can also do this exercise holding the duffel bag handles with one hand and curling the bag with one arm.


No ballet studio? No problem. Tone up your glutes with your countertop or a sturdy desk instead with kickbacks.glute kickbacks

Stand facing a countertop, with your feet side by side about a foot from the counter. Place your fingertips on the counter for support. Lift your right leg behind you, keeping your leg straight. The effort to lift your leg should come from your butt muscle. That’s one repetition. Repeat as necessary before switching to your other leg.


Swiss balls are great for abs, but they take up a lot of space, so use a sturdy chair instead for these knee lifts.chair knee lifts

Sit on the edge of your seat with your feet on the floor and your knees together. Lean back against the back of the chair; hold on to the edges of the seat if you wish.

Keeping your knees together, lift them toward your chest while slightly tilting your shoulders and head toward your knees. Return to the beginning position and repeat as necessary.

Doggie squats

Grab your pooch and get squatting. As long as you have a compliant dog that doesn’t mind being held, you can easily add weight to your squats and lunges by simply cradling Fido close to your body. Just remember to keep a focus on form — your knees should remain behind your toes and in line with your toes as you lower yourself into the squat. Then, keep your torso upright and tall as you press through your heels to return to standing. Because you’ll have to physically hold your dog in your arms, you’ll also work your upper body.

File-box rows

File boxes can be a bit bulky and hard to handle, so they’re not a great option for exercises like bicep curls or shoulder presses, but they’re exactly the right size and shape for bent-over rows or deadlifts. Simply grasp the box by its handles, then tip your hips backward and keep your torso straight as you bend forward. When your torso forms a 45-degree or less angle, with your arms hanging loose from your shoulders, simply bend your elbows and tighten your back as you pull the file box up to your body. Just remember to keep your core tight throughout the movement to help protect your back.

Backpack push-ups

Load a backpack up with books for the perfect home gym accessory. Simply strap the pack to your back to add weight to any number of exercises, including squats, lunges and push-ups.Backpack push-ups

Perform your push-up as usual, keeping your core tight and strong, while balancing on your knees or your toes. Wear the backpack on your back, using the chest strap (if your backpack has one) for added stability. Start light with just a few paperback books, but gradually build up your strength by testing your hand with the giant family Bible or Grandpa’s old encyclopedias — who knew they could still come in handy?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 + nineteen =

Web Analytics