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13 Household Items That Double as Exercise Equipment in Quarantine

Finding the motivation to workout is an exercise in itself, especially in today’s social climate. The gyms are closed and personal trainers are non-essential, meaning those looking to get and stay in shape have started crafting their own at-home workout regimens. Excuse the cliche, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

You could look into building a home gym, but sometimes it’s hard to justify the price tag on the equipment. Thankfully, there are creative and cost-effective solutions for getting your sweat on without gear. If you look around, you might find that you have a surprising amount of useful and free items that can double as workout instruments.

Now, we’re not talking about filling your beer glass and counting every pull as a rep of curls (if only it were that easy). However, you’re headed in the right direction.

You might not realize it, but over the years, you’ve been secretly collected up serviceable weights from grocery and hardware stores. A heavy cinder block or a box of books for squats and deadlifts? Maybe a full gallon of milk for bicep curls or shoulder press?

We’re going to press through some common household items that double as exercise equipment to help further your at-home fitness routine and keep you in shape during quarantine.

Couches and Chairs

As with pushups, sit-ups, and squats, using your own weight as a piece of exercise equipment is one of the most effective methods for a swole-worthy at-home workout. One way to maximize this workout method is to make use of your living room couch or dining chairs as a workout bench to round out your routine with challenging tricep dips, ab workouts, and even some vein-popping shoulder drills. We found this Instagram post from Red Bull to be mighty inspiring.

household items home workout fitness
Shestock/Getty Images

Buckets and Jugs

A 5-gallon jug or bucket is a great tool to have around the house if you need to wash your car or mix some soil, but it can also be a practical workout instrument when filled with something heavy like water, rocks, sand, or dirt. They make for great makeshift dumbbells and kettlebells for arm workouts, and can also be used in tandem with a pole or sturdy stick to imitate a barbell for exercises such as squats, bench press, and more.

Garbage Bags

If you’re really looking to maximize your household item workout, a trash bag full of water is easily one of the most effective tools for creating a tough, heavy-duty workout at home. There aren’t many “workouts,” per se, but manually lugging it around the backyard is a full-body workout you’ll wake up feeling the next morning.


Swinging your kid around is something that brings us closer together with our favorite little people in the world, however, it’s also one helluva workout. Considering all the time you have at home with them in quarantine, it might be time to start turning playtime with the kiddos into an at-home exercise. You can lay on the ground and use your kid as weights for bench press, have them lay on your back while you do push-ups, sit them on your shoulders and do some squats, or maybe have a kid on each arm for some whacky, laughter-filled kid-dle bell swings.

home fitness plank kids
Cavan Images/Alamy Stock Photo


Towels are one of the best household items to use as exercise equipment simply because they’re so versatile and easy to use. They make sure a suitable alternative to resistance bands to add more difficulty to your at-home pushups and planks, as well as a makeshift core disk glider for added performance when strengthening your core. Larger beach towels are serviceable yoga and stretching mats, too. Though a good yoga towel and yoga mat don’t cost too much.

Cans of Food

Aluminum food cans are great to have in the house for when food supplies begin to run dry but they also make for a great tool to use as small weights for high-repetition workouts. We’re talking exercises that boost your muscular endurance, correct muscle imbalances, and ultimately tone your muscles more effectively. Some of these toning exercises include bicep curl pulses and tricep kickbacks, among others.

Water Bottles

Similarly to cans of food, a full insulated water bottle can also be a suitable tool for light endurance exercises, especially if you have a larger reusable water bottle that can provide more weight if necessary.

Tote Bags

Similarly, a durable tote bag is another vessel that can be filled with heavier items like books or cans of food to mimic exercise equipment. It might seem awkward at first, but you’ll quickly be surprised at how tough it is to maneuver. In fact, it acts as a resistance band in a sense that it requires your muscles to move slower in a more compact, concentrated manner. This is another great option for curls, deadlifts, and dumbbell presses.

man holding tote bag
Tascha Rassadornyindee/EyeEm/Getty Images


If your house has a flight of stairs then you have a leg up on everyone else for calisthenics and cardio workouts. Walking or running upstairs is a sure-fire way to maximize your endurance, burn fat, and effectively train and strengthen your legs. We recommend trying out this 20-minute stair exercise for when you need a sweat break when working from home.

Frying Pan

You might be thinking, “How in the world can a frying pan be used as fitness equipment?” There are actually quite a few exercises you can do with a pan to enhance your faux at-home gym, including tricep extensions and surprisingly difficult front raises. If you have a heavy cast-iron skillet, use that for added weight.


When your daily runs and high-activity cardio workouts become less challenging, you can look at using your backpack as a weighted vest to add some extra weight to your load. Simply fill it up with something heavy yet unobtrusive for your workout, and feel the burn of the added baggage.

man packing backpack
Portra/Getty Images


A shovel can be used in many ways to maximize your at-home workouts, with the most obvious being digging holes or moving dirt or gravel from one place to another. However, one of our favorite uses for a shovel is unilateral training and core strengthening. Hold the shovel over your head with one arm during core workouts or squats to add extra difficulty to your exercise while also helping isolate and correct muscle imbalances.


As we mentioned earlier, manual labor is one of the best methods for getting a successful workout. You might as well get some chores done around the house while you’re at it. A wheelbarrow is a versatile form of fitness equipment that you can fill with rocks, sand, soil, and more to obtain an extreme full-body workout while simultaneously completing your home improvement goals outside.

Helpful tip: whenever you are filling an empty bag or bucket with something to use as equipment, make sure you’re weighing your bag out so you can set goals to reach as your strength increases.

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Bryan Holt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Bryan Holt is a writer, editor, designer, and multimedia storyteller based in Portland, Oregon. He is a graduate from the…
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