12 Everyday Household Items That Double as Gym Equipment

Turn your home into a personal gym by using household items as weights.

Hedy Phillips CNET Contributor
Hedy Phillips is a freelance lifestyle writer based in New York. While she's not writing on topics like living on a budget and tips for city dwelling, she can usually be found at a concert or sightseeing in a new city. Over the past 10 years, her bylines have appeared in a number of publications, including POPSUGAR, Hunker, and more.
Hedy Phillips
6 min read
Woman exercising in her home.
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It's no secret how much gym memberships and home gym equipment can cost you. While the gym is a great place to find a community of like-minded people on healthy journeys, you can just as easily work out at home with items found around your house -- and save a pretty penny. You can get in a great workout with no exercise equipment at all, but finding household items to use as weights can make it even more fun. Ready to learn what to use as weights at home? Let's go.

For more health tips, check out what 15 minutes of exercise daily can do for your health and tips to quit drinking alcohol.

12 items at home you can use as weights

There is workout equipment hiding all over your house, you just have to know where to look. Whether you need weights or apparatus to use as equipment, here's what to use instead of weights.

Woman doing tricep dips on couch.

Chair or stool

You can use a chair or stool in a few different ways. With a kitchen chair, you can use the back of it like a barre and do barre exercises with it as your balancing tool. Barre exercises for this can include all those little motions with your feet that tone your glutes and squats. 

You can also use a low stool like a step to tone your glutes and quads. You can do something as simple as stepping up and down. You could also do fast footwork up and down, forward and back and sides if you feel confident your stool isn't going to move out from under you. 

Another option for ottoman-type stools or kitchen chairs is to do triceps dips. Stand in front of the furniture and squat down with your hands on the edge of the chair or stool. Dip your hips down until your arms are at a 90-degree angle behind you, then raise your body back up and repeat.

Full backpack

A full backpack can be used as a weight while you're doing a variety of workout moves. You can pack it with some weight and wear it on your back (or front) while you run, do squats or even go for a walk. You can also strap it to your back while you're doing push-ups so that you're moving extra weight up and down. 

Hand towel

A hand towel is another household item that can have a few different uses. A hand towel can be used as a resistance band. You can hold each end in your hand while sitting on the floor and put your foot in the middle of the towel. Gently raise your leg with your hands and the towel for a great stretch. 

You can also use a hand towel in place of a glider. Place the towel on the floor under one of your feet and move it around while holding the rest of your body stable. This works a variety of your leg muscles (but primarily your glutes and core). 

Laundry detergent

Want to try strength training with household items? Those laundry detergent jugs are quite heavy, making them great as a weight. You can lift them as weights for the easiest at-home workout. Depending on the jugs' size, these are one- or two-handed reps. You can also hold the laundry detergent to your chest while you do squats to add extra weight to the bodyweight workout.

Woman exercising at home with laundry detergent.
BakiBG/Getty Images

Laundry basket

You know how hard it is sometimes to carry around that full laundry basket? Put it to good use and work out with it. Next time your hamper is full, carry it around the house or up and down the stairs. Make the walk to the washer and dryer a little longer than it needs to be so you can get some extra steps in. 

If you send your laundry to a laundromat, use the full bag that's returned as a weight before you put your clothes away. Simply carrying it around will do the trick, but you can also hold it while you do squats or wall sits.


If you've got them, stairs are good for working out. The simplest way to use them is to walk up and down. Consider this your at-home Stairmaster. Add some weights for a harder workout by carrying them or wearing them. 

You can also use the bottom stair to step up and down like you did the stool. Another way to use your stairs is by doing push-ups on them. Plant your feet on the ground and lean forward onto the stairs. Place your hands on the comfortable stair and do your push-ups. This makes your push-ups easier, so it's a great option if you need a modification.

Cans of soup

Instead of spending money on dumbbells, grab a couple of cans from your pantry. These are the perfect substitute for weights at home. These cans fit into your hand easily and are a good weight to use in place of light dumbbells. Try doing a circuit of different arm workouts, like bicep curls, overhead triceps curls, triceps kickbacks and lateral raises. Do each move for 30 seconds, shake your arms, then move to the next. Do the whole circuit twice. 

Mop or broom

Like most of these items, a broom can be used a couple ways. If you want to do a little cardio and work on your fast feet, lay your broom down on the floor and jump back and forth over the handle. This will get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping. 

You can also incorporate a mop or broom into your ab workout. While doing sit-ups, hold the broom handle in your hand while you sit up and down. You don't necessarily need any equipment for this, but the addition of the broom helps keep your form as you're sitting up. 


Just like how a hand towel can be a resistance band, so can a t-shirt. Plus, a t-shirt works even better because it has some stretch to it. Use the t-shirt the same way you used the towel to stretch your muscles. Use care in doing this so you're not over-exerting your muscles or over-extending your knee.

Paper plates

Paper plates also work as gliders. You can do the same standing exercises previously mentioned for hand towels. There are so many more options, though! Another one to try with your makeshift gliders (which will really only work if you have hardwood or tile floors), is to put two on the floor under your feet as you get into a plank position. From this position, bend your knees and bring your feet in. You can also alternate your feet as you bring them in to engage your core. Another exercise from this position is to sweep your feet outward while holding the plank. All of these exercises will make your plank a little bit more fun.

Portrait of woman doing a wall sit exercise in her living room.

A wall

The wall sits you had to do in middle school gym class were actually quite good on your muscles -- and you can do those at home too. Find an open space on your wall and stand with your back to it. Walk your feet out as you squat so that you end up with your knees at a 90-degree angle and your thighs parallel to the floor. Keep your back against the wall so that you look like you're sitting on a chair. Hold this for 30-second intervals to work your leg muscles. 

Soccer ball, basketball or volleyball

You don't need a medicine ball to amp up your Russian twists. You truly don't need a ball at all, but the ball keeps your hands in position. You can use any sort of sport ball you have in the house for this. Sit on the floor for your Russian twist, with your knees bent and feet slightly off the ground, and pick up the ball on your left side. Twist your body so the ball is on your right side and then twist back. You can add a bit of difficulty by bouncing the ball on the floor when you're fully twisted to the side, as this forces you to hold at the side for an extra second, working your abs even more.

For more fitness resources, check out these fitness resolutions to make year round and best home exercise equipment.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.