Do you think working out at home is going to be expensive?
If you do, you’re not alone.
Many of my clients think they need a least one, large piece of equipment to workout effectively at home.
But the truth is, no matter what your fitness goals, you don’t need anything special.
Many ordinary household items make a great alternative to expensive equipment.
So, stop forking out for a gym membership you never have time to use, and let’s start working out in the comfort of your own living room.
I’m going to start sounding like a broken record, but it does bare repeating. Honestly.
As pieces of equipment go, your own body has to be the best thing.
You already know it can be used for a variety of exercises, cardio, strength training etc. etc. etc. But on top of that, you’ve always got it with you. You don’t have to go searching for it. It’s just there.
So, get with the bodyweight programme.
Not sure what to do?
There is lots of inspiration on this site.
Most of them can be done with little, to no equipment. Or they can certainly be adapted.
Anyway, now I’ve said my piece….again. Sorry. Let’s get on with home workout equipment alternatives.
Ok, I know resistance bands aren't that expensive, but why fork out when you don’t have to?
A bungee cord makes an excellent alternative.
It has a bit of stretch, just like a resistance band, and can be used pretty much in the same way.
Whilst they do vary in length, they don’t really vary in resistance. So, keep your reps high and rest short.
They’ll have you looking toned in no time.
What’s that? You don’t have a bungee cord?
Is it just my husband that has random stuff lying around the place?
If you haven’t got a bungee cord either how about using a tyre inner tube. Or a pair of tights (pantyhose for our American readers). Oversized rubber bands, because let’s face it, that’s all resistance bands are.
You could even use spandex.
Although for this one, you would have to have a few items lying around that you don’t mind sacrificing and be competent with a sowing machine.
But still...it’s an idea.
Anything that has a bit of stretch to it, will do the job.
Again, medicine balls aren’t in themselves that expensive. But they are one of those things that you generally need more than one of.
And that can start to add up. Not just in cost, but storing the blummin things.
They don’t exactly stack together neatly now do they?
What you use as a substitute will depend largely on what type of exercise you planning to do.
If it’s abdominal exercises like twists, you could use a heavy book or a bag of sugar.
But to be honest, you could use a normal ball.
It’s not going to be weighted, so you might think what is the point of using it at all. But even without the weight it is still beneficial.
It keeps you concentrating on your posture, which you’re less likely to do if you’re not holding anything. And it also gives your arms a good workout. Hold the ball a little further away from you and move slower.
You’ll soon feel the burn.
If you were planning on more whole body exercises like slams, you could use a heavy sandbag.
It won’t bounce, obviously. But picking it up, holding it overhead and throwing down to the ground will give you a very similar workout.
Or, a sledgehammer could also do the job.
Again you’ll be lifting overhead and essentially throwing it down to the ground, although you’ll keep hold of one end.
I would recommend you hit something rather than just the ground though. A big tyre or some wood.
There are so many things in your kitchen cupboard that could be used instead of free weights.
From cans of beans, to bags of sugar, bags of potatoes, even water bottles.
Any heavy items can be used to replace dumbells and kettlebells.
Not heavy enough for you?
No. They wouldn’t be for me either.
Then get a rucksack, a back pack and put a few items in there.
A bag of sugar. A large bag of potatoes. A bag of oats. A carton of milk.
They all soon start to add up.
Just think how heavy your shopping bags are when you get home from the store.
With the rucksack you can lift it overhead for a few overhead presses. Hold it in front of you for some goblet squats.
Or just wear it on your back and go about your day.
You’ll be surprised, or maybe not if you’re constantly carrying around a toddler, how challenging everyday tasks are when you’ve got a few kilos on your back.
Now this one might seem very strange, but I haven’t used a foam roller for years.
What do I use instead?
Well, uh, I use a rolling pin.
Yep. Those things you roll out your pastry with.
I actually find them a lot easier and more satisfying to use.
They’re more targeted. And you can put more pressure on them.
If you ask me, foam rollers are out. Rolling pins are in.
Ok, so officially I will say that there is no alternative to a personal trainer.
And, I truly do believe that.
I know. I know. Of course I’d say that...I am a personal trainer.
But, having a PT is not just about someone giving you some exercises to do. They are there to make sure your form is spot on so you don’t injure yourself.
They are there to encourage and motivate you so that you push yourself just that little bit harder.
They are there to make sure the workouts you are doing are appropriate not only for your ability, but for your goals as well.
And most of all, they are there to make it all fun.
But, I know many can’t afford to hire a personal trainer.
Maybe it’s just the money side of things, but often, mamas just don’t have the time, or can’t dedicate a specific amount of time each week.
So, if hiring a PT just isn’t in your capability at the moment, why not look at fitness apps.
There are so many on the market, it’s unreal.
Many are free, although you will have to deal with advertising. But even the paid ones generally don’t cost that much.
I’m going to write a page on the best fitness apps, so keep your eyes peeled, if you’re interested.
These are those wooden boxes in the corner of the gym that you're not really sure what they're used for.
Truth is, they're used for quite a bit.
The most famous exercise is box jumps. You stand on the ground next to the box and you jump up. Both feet landing at the same time.
If it doesn't sound that hard, then you've never tried it.
At a more sedate level you can use them for step ups, tricep dips, glute bridges, incline push-ups and decline planks.
If you're going to use something at home, make sure it's sturdy enough to do what you want to do. For example, I wouldn't recommend jumping onto a chair. But a chair is perfect for the more sedate level exercises.
If you want to do jumps I would use a table. A coffee table would probably be best, remember you’ve got to jump up there. A dining table might be a bit of stretch.
Or, if you’re out and about, what about a park bench? They’re sturdy enough for jumping onto, but also a really great height for your dips, bridges and push-ups.
Whatever you choose, make sure it's sturdy.
You may or may not know about gliders. I have to say, I didn’t know much about them until I wrote this article.
Essentially you use them to glide over a smooth surface.
For example, a mountain climber with sliders under your feet allows you to slide your feet in and out instead of jumping them.
Believe me, it’s not easier.
So, if you’re looking for an alternative to a slider, it would be anything that allowed that sliding motion over a smooth surface. A paper plate, coffee filters, t-towels. All could have the same effect.
It has to be said, there some pieces of equipment you’ll be hard pressed to find an alternative for. And cardio machines is one of them.
If you haven’t got the space, and/or the muhlah, to invest in large cardio machines, then your options are...go for a long run. Or a bike ride.
But there aren’t many household items that can duplicate cardio machines.
Paper plates on a smooth surface could be used for running indoors, but, I’m not sure you’ll be able to keep that up for the same amount of time.
However, a full-body workout using any of the other equipment mentioned here, would be just as good, if not better, than spending an hour on a treadmill.
I love an exercise class.
I working out in different ways. With different people. And learning from different instructors.
It is somewhat harder to do when you’re working out at home. But...it’s not impossible.
There are so many avenues now to find free live classes or on demand fitness classes online.
That’s right, you need to head to YouTube.
You will find thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fitness classes you can join.
And whatever you’re looking for, you will likely find there.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on YouTube, then do let me know. I will get it covered.
I’ve mentioned it before, ab machines, imho, are really not worth the money.
They take up so much room, and they can’t be used for much else.
So why bother?
Most ab exercises are challenging enough with just your body weight. That’s because your abs are a very specific muscles group that are actually fairly small.
It doesn’t’ take a lot to challenge them.
You certainly don’t need fancy machines.
If you do want something a bit different, a bit more of a challenge, all you need is a wall.
Yep, you read that correctly. A wall.
Walking up a wall will challenge your abs like you didn’t think possible.
I’m sure you’ve got a spare wall in your house.
The purpose of a bosu ball is to provide an unstable surface to train on.
You might think, wtf?
Why would you want to exercise on an unstable surface? Surely you’ll injure yourself?
In fact the whole purpose is that you don’t injure yourself. Whilst training, or at any other time.
Think about it...how many times a day do you walk, cycle, run, push a pram, on an unstable surface.
Probably quite a bit.
So, training on a bit of wobble helps to prepare you for that.
It helps improve the connection you have between all of your muscles. Especially your core. It improves your balance, your stability, your coordination.
They are a pretty awesome piece of kit.
So, how do you replicate that in your home workouts?
Well, find something unstable to workout on.
A large cushion. A mattress. Uneven ground outside. A lilo.
Anything that could make you wobble a bit.
But, and this is a big but….make sure your form is spot on. There is obviously a risk of injury. So, make sure your core is engaged at all times. And if you’re not sure about your technique on something, don’t do it.
I have to say, a yoga mat, or exercise mat, is one of my essentials for home workouts.
For me, the alternatives just don’t cut the mustard.
But, having said that, you might not have an issue with them. The important thing is to find something that’s comfortable, protects you from the hard floor and you can workout on easily with proper form.
Because let’s face it, if you’re not comfortable you’re not going to enjoy your workout and you probably won’t be that keen to do it again.
So, you could use a quilt. A thick blanket. A beach towel. Or an old rug or carpet.
Just make sure it gives you some cushioning, and doesn’t slip.
You don’t want to be worried about sliding all over the place.
I think this one has to be the classic household/exercise equipment swap…
Large books can be used instead of yoga blocks.
That’s all I can really say on that one.
Do you remember skipping as a kid?
I’ve recently started skipping again, and wow….what a workout that is.
It gets your heart pumping, very, very quickly.
But it’s not just a great cardio workout. Jumping is a great bone builder. Which is something all of us ladies have to think about.
So, what can you use instead of a jump rope?
Well, a garden hose. A long tie. A belt.
Ok, so there are some ideas for some alternatives to workout equipment, but how do you use them? How can you put them together into a full-body workout?
Load up your back pack with a bit of weight. Bag of sugar, bag of oats, some potatoes, etc. etc. etc.
Pick a distance. Across your living room, your kitchen. That’s the distance you’ll be lunging.
Work down the ladder of squats, keep the lunge distance the same.
Find your coffee table. If you haven’t got a coffee table, then a dining chair, or step would be sufficient.
You’ll be doing each exercise for 20s and then rest for 20s. Do between 5-15 rounds. I’d start small and work your way up.
Ok, this is to get your heart rate pumping.
As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes. Rest as and when you need to. With the wall walks, walk up the wall as far as you feel comfortable. Make sure your core is braced and strong.
The best part about home workouts is that they don’t require any fancy equipment.
You don’t have to spend a fortune. In fact, you don’t have to spend a lot of money at all.
By getting your thinking cap on, and getting creative, I bet you could find lots more items around the house that would give you a challenging and fun workout, whatever your fitness levels.
So...get to it.
Find more. And let me know what they are.
I’d love to add to this list.
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