If I see one more influencer sharing her “easy” at-home workout that “only” requires three different pairs of dumbbells, I’m gonna fully lose it. My concept of an at-home sweat sesh usually involves mastering the choreo to the latest TikTok trend (throwing it back is way harder than it looks, by the way) so no, I don’t own a single dumbbell. And considering you clicked on this article, I’m guessing you don’t either. No worries. This just means we’re gonna have to get a little creative. But before you start Googling “what to use instead of dumbbells” or surfing Pinterest for hacks on “what to use as weights at home” allow me to educate you. It turns out there are some household items you definitely own (yes, even if you Postmates almost every meal) that’ll get the job done. “Always remember that your body is its own gym,” says Albert Matheny, registered dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Soho Strength Lab in New York City . “You have body weight and there are literally endless exercises that can be done with no equipment,” he adds. Cool, more on that later. However, if you do want to enhance your workout with some dumbbell-esque equipment, he has some suggestions. Here, household items that will work just as well as dumbbells. One Pound (16 ounces) Cans of *Insert Whatever You Have Here* Fact: We all have a couple of random cans of beans or soup in the back of our pantries that we’re never gonna use. Just make sure the label reads 16 ounces if you’re looking for a one-pound item. “The benefit of the can is that it’s equally weighted similarly to how a dumbbell is, whereas bottles are not,” says Matheny. In other words, cans are as close as you can get to the feel of actual dumbbells. Put those babies to use with some tricep kickbacks . Step 1) Stand next to a couch or a chair and place the hand closest to the furniture on it to help stabilize you. Step 2) Hold a can in your other hand with an overhand grip, and hinge at your hips. Bend your elbow to about 90 degrees so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor. Step 3) Extend your arm back until it’s straight and parallel with the floor. Step 4) Reverse the motion. That’s one rep. Do as many reps as you’d like, then repeat on the other side. Strengthening your triceps will help you get better at pushups if you totally failed the Instagram pushup challenge, says Matheny. White Claws White Claws are technically 19.2 ounces, so they’re gonna be a little more than a pound (1.2 pounds to be exact). But if you have smaller hands, they might actually be easier to grip than your typical can. These are also perfect for tricep kickbacks. Just remember that if you crack one open post-workout it’s going to end in a fizzy explosion. Two Pounds (32 ounces) Small Cartons of Oat Milk It turns out oat milk is trendy and useful. As long as the carton reads 32 ounces, you’ve got some solid two-pound weights to work with. And, according to Matheny, small cartons are ideal for a curl and press. Step 1) Stand with your shoulder-width apart and keep your abs tight holding a carton in each hand with an underhand grip. Step 2) Keeping your elbows by your sides, lift the weight to shoulder height. Step 3) Press the cartons overhead until your arms are completely straight. Step 4) Reverse the motion to bring your arms back down to your sides. That’s one rep. Be sure to keep your abs and glutes engaged throughout the move, says Matheny. Only have one carton? In this case, Matheny says you can do an offset loaded lunge . It sounds fancy, but it just means that you’re only putting weight on one side of your body to make your core work harder to keep you stable. Step 1) Hold the carton with your left or right hand. Then, bend your elbow so that the weight reaches shoulder height. Step 2) Slowly step forward with the opposite foot, and lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Step 3) Bring your extended leg back beneath your hips, and immediately step forward with the other leg. Lower your body until your thigh is parallel to the ground. That’s one rep. Do as many as you like before transferring the box to your opposite hand and performing the same number of reps. If that feels easy, you can also hold the oat milk overhead with a straight arm while you do the lunges to make things more challenging. Three Pounds (48 ounces) Bags of Rice Guys, uncooked rice never goes bad. So even if you don’t have two bags lying around the house you can totally buy some knowing you’ll eat them eventually. Bonus: These were practically made for holding at your sides while you do back lunges. (Or at your shoulders, if you’re an overachiever like that). Step 1) Grab the center of the bags with an overhand grip, and hold them at your sides with your arms straight Step 2) Step your right foot back a couple feet from your left. Step 3) Slowly bend your left knee to lower your body down to the ground, pausing just before your right knee touches the ground. Step 4) Bring your right foot back to meet your left. That’s one rep, do as many as you like before performing the same move on your left side. Four Pounds (64 ounces) Large Cartons of Oat Milk Let the record show that cartons of regular milk, almond milk, or soy milk will work just as well, people. We don’t discriminate here. And the good news is you only need one of them for the exercise Matheny has in mind: a weighted step up . Step 1) Stand so that you’re facing a stair or a secure chair, hold the carton at chest level with one hand on each side. Step 2) Lift your right foot and place it at the center of the step or chair. Then, straighten your right knee and bring your left knee to hip height so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Step 3) Slowly lower your left foot back to the ground. That’s one rep. Do five to 15 reps before performing the exercise on the opposite side. Five Pounds (80 ounces) Bags of Flour Even the most kitchen-challenged people among us (*raises hand*) have in the back of their cabinet. Pro tip: Stick it inside a reusable tote before you get down to business to avoid any residual dust or spillage, says Matheny. For this item, he suggests a squat . If you have two bags, even better! You can hold each one at your side as you squat. For everyone else with one bag, here’s how to do it. Step 1) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the bag of flour at chest level with both hands. Step 2) Keep your abs tight as you bend your knees to lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as close as you can get). Step 4) Press through your heels to lift your body and straighten your legs. When you reach the starting position, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward. That’s one rep. Do as many as you’d like. Eight to Nine Pounds (128 ounces) Jugs of Water You can also use orange juice, milk, or whatever else you have that comes in a one gallon jug, or about 8.4 pounds. Just keep in mind that the center of gravity for a jug of liquid is way less stable than an eight-pound dumbbell, says Matheny. So it might be a little harder to perform the exercise. That’s why he recommends a bent over row . Step 1) Stand with your feet hip-width apart facing a couch, chair, or other sturdy surface. Place your left hand on the surface with your elbow slightly ben, keeping your hand in line with your shoulder. Hold the jug in your right hand with your arm extended by your side. Step 2) Hinge forward at your hips until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor, then, keeping your arm close to your side, bend your right elbow to pull the jug upward until it reaches your chest. Step 3) Slowly lower the jug back down. That’s one rep. Do as many reps as you like before performing the exercise on the left side Laundry Detergent Feeling pretty strong with your one-gallon jugs? You can upgrade to a container of laundry detergent. A 150 ounce bottle of Tide weighs 9.4 pounds. Follow the above instructions for a bent over row . 10+ Pounds (160+ ounces) Boxed Wine Most boxes of wine are five liters, which is almost exactly 11 pounds. No wonder it slapping the bag felt like a workout, amirite? You can squat with one of these just like you did with the bag of flour, says Matheny. Prepare for your glutes to be on fire. A Tote Bag Filled with Cans Now we’re getting into the customizable weight range. If an 11 pound box of Franzia won’t do it for you, this option should. Fill a tote with as many cans as you’d like (remember each one equals 1 pound) and tie the straps tight so they can’t fall out, says Matheny. With this makeshift weight, you can do a squat and press . “That’s one of the most efficient exercises you can do for your whole body,” he says. Score. Just make sure the tote is wide enough so that your arms are about shoulder width apart when you’re holding it over your head, Matheny says. Step 1) Stand with your feet between hip-width apart, holding the bag at chest level with both hands. Step 2) Keep your abs tight as you bend your knees to lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as close as you can get). Step 3) Press through your heels to lift your body and straighten your legs. When you reach the starting position, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward and raise the bag up over your head. Step 4) Lower the bag to chest height before squatting back down. That’s one rep. Do as many as you’d like. A Suitcase Filled with Whatever You Want This is the tote bag idea on steroids. You fill it with cans, a combination of the items above, or whatever you want. Just be sure to weigh the suitcase beforehand so you know what it weighs on its own. An empty Away Carry-On weighs 7.6 pounds, for some reference. Once you hit that ideal weight (Matheny suggests 10 pounds for beginners, 20 pounds for people who workout semi-regularly and 30 pounds for experts), it’s time for more squats . Step 1) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the suitcase at chest level with both arms wrapped around it–bear hug style. Step 2) Keep your abs tight as you bend your knees to lower your body down until your thighs are parallel to the ground (or as close as you can get). Step 4) Press through your heels to lift your body and straighten your legs. When you reach the starting position, squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward. That’s one rep. Do as many as you’d like. Your Body Oookay, so technically your body isn’t a household item. But it is something you can use to your advantage if you don’t own dumbbells, which is the whole purpose of this story. As I mentioned at the beginning, there are literally endless bodyweight exercises that you can do. But one of the best for targeting multiple muscle groups at once is the plank . Step 1) Start on your hands and knees so that your hands are directly below your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Step 2) With your forearms planted into the ground, straighten your legs behind you. Keep your legs together as you press your toes into the ground and flex your feet. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. Step 3) Lower back down when you can no longer hold the position.
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