No equipment? Fine, make your own!!
Having the time to train is a problem for many of us, as is expensive gym memberships. However, even if you don’t have access to a gym or traditional exercise equipment like dumbbells or medicine balls, that shouldn’t prevent you from squeezing in a damn good workout. It’s time to bring in the makeshift gym equipment! All that is required is a bit of foresight, what do you want to work on? What kind of equipment is required to simulate the effects of weight training equipment found in the gym?
Next up is a raid on your store cupboards, the garage, the basement, wherever you are, doesn’t matter, grab a few common household items on hand to adapt to become your workout tools. Utilise your environment and be creative and you will be able to put together total body workouts that don’t leave you short on time or money!
If you’ve got stairs in your home, stair-climbing provides a solid cardio workout even just walking up and down them a few times. Alternatively, the stairs can be used for box jumps, step ups, incline/decline press ups and wearing a weighted backpack whilst stair climbing adds resistance (but be careful!!). At work? Climb flights of stairs at lunch breaks! For instance, if you have 10 floors in your building, run/walk up to the first floor then back down. Next, run/walk up to the second floor, then back down, continue this until you reach the tenth floor and watch the weight fly off as the weeks go by!
Fixed chairs can be utilised for a variety of exercises including triceps dips (don’t use a chair with wheels for obvious reasons!) or mountain climbers (See picture below).
Office chairs with wheels can be used for core work including incline press ups (below), plank variations, pikes, chair pendulums and hip bridges.
Loading your work backpack up with weight adds intensity to exercises and can make runs more challenging. The stuff you bring to work should provide adequate weight with the only downside being any salads or food in your bag will be thoroughly scrambled by the time you get to them! Get off the bus/tube/tram several stops early and run home with the backpack. Make the distances longer as your cardio level picks up.
The backpack can also be utilised as a makeshift kettlebell, sandbag or medicine ball, to add weight to body weight exercises, such as squats, lunges, and pushups. You can even take the backpack off and grasp the straps to perform curls, shoulder presses, or makeshift kettlebell swings.
Placing a heavy, hardcover book on your chest when doing abdominal work (such as crunches) adds an extra level of tension to an already difficult exercise. Lie on your back, arms above you, book in hand, and use your stomach muscles to raise your shoulders off the ground, targeting your lower abs. Alternatively, sit on a chair, with your legs close together and extended out and the book balanced on your shins, slowly raise and lower the legs to work your lower abdominals. Almost any exercise you do while holding a medicine ball or a weight plate can be done with a heavy book. For instance, using a book for resistance when doing oblique twists, sit-ups, crossbody wood chops or squat and overhead press (below).
With virtually any wall you can do push up variations or even handstand push-ups (which are fantastic for building upper body strength particularly in the shoulder region). In a push-up position with your feet facing the wall, plant your feet against the wall with arms stretched out in front of you. Push your feet against the wall to hold you in position. This position will work the core tremendously.
From here it up to you if you want to undertake standard press ups to work upper body and the core, or you can literally ‘walk’ the legs up the wall, at the same time using your hands on the floor to walk backwards until they are close to the wall and you are in a handstand position (below). From this position, you can undertake handstand pushup which places much more emphasis on the shoulder muscles and the deltoids.
Other uses of the wall include using it as support for a squat, this is great for a beginner because it ensures that the back is straight when undertaking the manoeuvre and thus the emphasis is on the targeted muscle groups in the leg.
Everyday objects for resistance
Utilise everyday objects around the house for your training, don’t have access to dumbbells or kettlebells then use paint cans, water gallons and even laundry detergent as resistance.
Fill some empty paint cans with rocks and use them like kettlebells for squats of swings. Grab a couple gallons of water for farmers walks or extra resistance with lunges, overhead presses and side lunges. Choose smaller laundry detergent containers if you want a little less weight.
Floor rags can be used in just the same manner as glider discs for core work. Please note, however, they are useful only on smooth surfaces such as shiny or tiled floors (so don’t be trying to use them on a carpeted floor as it will be pointless!) Find a couple of cleaning dusters or old rags, the game plan is to increase core muscle engagement while performing standard core exercises. Try crocodile walks with the rags on your feet, pikes, alternate toe touches or mountain climbers. Controlling the sliding motion can be challenging.
Towels are great for core activities such as pikes and crocodile walks (Below) etc, however, their advantage over floor rags is their size which makes them more versatile as an exercise tool.
Due to their extra length, they can be attached to handles and bars so the bodyweight can be used for resistance.
Likewise, they can be wrapped around limbs and used as resistance for leg exercises such as leg curls (see below).
Make your own Suspension Trainer!
A makeshift suspension trainer is relatively easy to put together with the right materials! If you have a length of rope on hand even relatively lightweight rope will do. You just need to measure the rope so it is approximately 10ft in length, then you need to tie a loop at either end, big enough to fit either your feet or hands securely into. Simply throw the rope over a sturdy support such as a tree or pole, grasp each end, and get to work doing assisted pull-ups, suspension planks, and pushups in a TRX suspension fashion.
You will need:
- Length of Rope (available at most DIY stores).
- A measuring Tape.
- Duct tape.
How to make your suspension trainer:
- Tie slip knots on both ends of the rope.
- Cover the loops with the friction tape. Be sure to add extra layers to the one end so that the rope doesn’t slide through and tighten around your hands when in use.
Cushions (and pillows in general), are squishy, making them an alternative to expensive balance tools. They can be difficult to stand on and perform exercises on because your body has to work harder to maintain stability atop the foam or stuffing-filled surface. Ok, so balance tools like BOSU balls generally introduce a greater level of instability to each exercise, but that doesn’t mean cushions aren’t a good alternative. Try doing pushups atop a cushion, or split squats with one foot on the cushion, and one foot on the floor.
If you happen to have a long length of heavy chain sitting in your garage (at least 30 feet long), why not use it as a battle rope? Bear in mind though that your partner and/or neighbours may grow to hate you. So get them involved too!! You can anchor the centre of the chain around a post or tree, grasp one end of the chain in each hand, and swing away! If you’ve never tried battle rope-style exercises before, remember to keep your core tight and your knees bent throughout each movement. You may also want to wrap the ends of each side of the chain with duct tape to help protect your hands as you perform each exercise.
Chains can also be utilised for extra resistance in bodyweight exercises such as the push up (below).
Everyone has a table at their disposal, just make sure yours is sturdy enough to support your bodyweight!! If it is, you are set, tables are great for incline/decline pushups as well as bodyweight pull-ups.
A broom is a versatile tool that can be used to work your core, shoulders and upper body. For oblique twists, take the broom and grip it with both hands, about shoulder width apart. Fingers face forward. Press it up, overhead and then rest it on your upper back, just below the base of your neck. Stand tall and engage your core. Twist the broomstick and your right arm forward, while allowing the left arm to move backwards. Return to centre and then twist to the right.
Load up the basket with clothes and top it with the laundry detergent. Use this weight to perform deadlifts and overhead squats.
For the deadlift. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Place the basket between your feet. Keep your shoulders down, away from your ears and chest up. Slightly hinge at the hips, bend your knees, and push your rear back. Grasp the handles of the basket and keep your back straight. Drive through your heels. Keep your arms long, back flat and stand up. Lower the basket to the ground and repeat.
Make your own sandbag!
Sandbags can be expensive, especially the top of the line ones on offer. It is, however, very simple to create your own.
You will need:
- Sand (available at most DIY stores).
- 4 large robust plastic bags.
- Duct tape.
- A sturdy duffel bag.
How to make a sandbag:
- Fill the plastic bags with sand leaving enough space for it to move around, then seal the top with the duct tape.
- Put the first sand filler into a second plastic bag and seal them both with duct tape.
- Place the double-bagged sand filler inside a duffel and zip it shut. To add security, you can duct-tape the zipper.