Rethink your home exercise game: Five pieces of exercise equipment you didn’t know you had.

Posted By Malcolm White, PT


1. Gallon Jug/Milk Carton

Don’t recycle those empty jugs/cartons just yet. To make an adjustable at-home dumbbell or kettle bell, just wash the empty containers and fill with water to a desired weight. A container with a handle offers more options for upper-body resistance training. If using a carton without a handle, however, you can grip it with both hands to add resistance to gym favorites like goblet squats and hip thrusts.

    • Dynamic lower-body resistance exercise:
      • Goblet squats (pictured below)
      • Hip thrust (pictured below)
      • Romanian dead lift
      • Lunge
    • Dynamic upper-body resistance exercises:
      • Curl to overhead press
      • Lateral raise
      • Bent-over lateral raise (pictured below)
      • Bent-over row
    goblet squat
    Goblet Squat
    hip thrust
    Hip Thrust
    lateral raises
    Lateral Raises



    2. Towel

    A towel is a great at-home tool for reducing friction and using ever-present gravity to create resistance in the following exercises:

    • Bridge with heel slide (pictured below)
    • Straight-arm pull-down
    • Push-up variations
    • Abdominal roll-/slide-out (pictured below)
    Bridge with Heel Slide
    abdominal slide out
    Abdominal Slide-Out



    3. Container Lid

    To create at-home versions of exercise sliders, use lids! Place them topside down on your hardwood floor or carpet for some fun lunge, bridge and plank variations. You can use this technique for a number of exercises:

    • Lunges
    • Bridge with a heel slide
    • Plank variations:
      • Hip abduction/adduction/circumduction
      • Shoulder abduction/adduction/circumduction
    Plank with Shoulder Flexion Slide
    Plank with Shoulder Flexion Slide
    Multidirectional Lunge with Slider
    Multidirectional Lunge with Slider



    4. Backpack

    Remember your first day of school and how excited you were to own a backpack. Reimagine that old backpack and recapture those youthful times with these creative exercises:

    • Deadlift
    • Front/back squat
    • Overhead triceps press
    Front squat
    Front Squat
    Back squat
    Back Squat
    Overhead Tricep
    Overhead Tricep Press



    5. Chair

    Don’t just sit in it, use that chair for something better. A chair makes a great tool for improving your ability to control a squat. You can also use a chair for adding difficulty or variety to your push-ups. Here are some creative ways to use that trusty chair:

    • Squat/Single-leg squat (pictured below)
    • Push-up variations
      • Incline/decline (pictured below)
      • Modified single-arm push-up
    Single-leg Squat
    Single-leg Squat
    Decline Push-up
    Decline Push-up

    Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is now offering physician and therapy TeleHealth appointments to provide patients easy access to our expert clinical teams. New and existing outpatients can schedule and appointment at 312.238.1000 or here.

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