Working Out With Household Items

I’m not going to pretend to be one of those people who lives in the gym, but I was going at least three or four days a week before the pandemic. I love to run outside, but I would force myself to lift some weights because everyone says I should. Then the pandemic hit and gyms (and everything) closed. I searched for weights online and NOTHING (like… nothing) was available. 

It forced me to get creative with things I had on hand. And now, even with gyms open, I work in these movements because I like them. Not just because an “expert” said I should. With just two common items you can find in any home or hotel room, you can work your entire body from head to toe anywhere.

The Chair Workout

We all know sitting in a chair all day is not good for you. So why not get your butt up and use that chair to help you get a workout in? Just choose one that is easy to grip onto and place it on a non-slip surface like a rug or carpet. 

Here are some ways to work out with a chair:

  • Planks — If planks normally hurt your wrists, a chair is an excellent solution to reap their ab-centric benefits. Standing in front of the chair, bend down and place your forearms flat on the seat or hold the sides of the seat with your arms straight. Carefully walk your feet out until you feel your abs engage and hold as long as you can.
  • Tricep Dips — A chair allows for a greater range of motion when working the backs of your arms. Stand in front of the chair, bend your knees and place your palms on the edge of the seat, wrapping your fingers down. You can keep your knees bent and feet flat or extend your legs straight out, balancing on your heels for more intensity.
  • Bulgarian Split Squat — Using the chair adds in a bit of a balance challenge to further tone the lower body. Stand about two feet in front of the chair. Lift one leg behind you and place the top of the foot on the seat with your knee bent. Slowly squat up and down by bending the standing leg. Add a pair of dumbbells for an additional challenge. 
  • Cardio — To get your heart rate up, use a chair as a large step. Just be sure your chair is on a non-slip surface, you’re wearing appropriate shoes for grip, and that you step into the center of the seat with a flat foot. Or you can stand in front of the chair and use the seat as a guide when doing high knees.
  • Stretches — Once your workout is done, use the chair to deepen your stretches. Sit in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back upright. Hold onto the side of the seat with your left hand and reach your right hand across your body, placing it next to your left hand for a back twist. Hold for a few breaths and move to the other side. Then stand behind the chair, using the back as a support while you hold up one leg for a quad stretch or step back one leg at a time into a lunge to stretch the calves.

The Towel Workout

A towel is another simple piece of equipment you’ve probably overlooked. But a towel can come in handy during your workout to get you sweating.

Here are two ways to use a towel in your workout routine:

  • Resistance
    Keeping a towel taught between your hands provides a similar benefit to a rubber resistance band. Extend your arms straight down, holding one end of the towel in each hand. Raise and lower your arms, keeping them straight and without letting the towel go slack as you perform squats or lunges. You can also use a towel in plank to intensify your ab workout. On a tile or wood floor, place one or both feet on the towel. Carefully walk your arms out and into a plank. Using the towel as a glider, slide your feet in towards your abdomen and push them back out again into a full plank.
  • Stretching
    A towel can also assist you in stretching more deeply while maintaining proper alignment. Sit on the floor with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flexed. With one end of the towel in each hand, wrap the towel around the balls of the feet. Slowly walk the feet forward, aiming to get the legs straight. Next, lay on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend one leg up, wrapping the towel around the ball of the foot. Hold both ends of the towel with one hand and straighten the leg as much as you can. Pull your foot slowly towards your face as far as it will go and hold for a few breaths. 

What household items do you use to work out? Share your suggestions and favorite moves below.