For dedicated gym-goers, it can be hard to recreate the same moves at home that you would normally do using fancy fitness equipment. But there’s good news: You don’t need a closet full of gear in order to keep your muscles strong – your home is already full of excellent alternatives. Here’s how to turn your home into a gym, without spending a cent.

Use Your Kitchen Counter

If you were a Barre fanatic before, no need to install a full-on ballet bar in your apartment (although, you do you!): Your kitchen counter makes an excellent stable surface while you plie, tendu or do calf raises. And as you probably know, many of the leg-trembling moves barre is known for can be done without any equipment at all.


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For those really wanting to come out of this whole thing with hardcore arms, use your kitchen counter for modified push-ups and tricep dips. Craving some core work? Side plank dips really work your obliques. Put your right arm on the counter and your left hand at your hip, walking your feet out until you’re at an angle. Lower down and raise yourself back up, repeat.

Make Your Own Dumbbells

Hand weights are fabulous for improving arm strength and beefing up your biceps and triceps, adding extra resistance when you’re doing lower-body work like squats or toning your core. But who says you actually have to use dumbbells to up the weight? There’s no shortage of items around your house that make great impromptu hand weights. All you need are two items of a similar weight that you can easily grip. For example, water bottles make good lightweight dumbbells, as do canned goods.


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You can get a medium-sized weight out of pots or pans, or even a large book. Want something heavier? A gallon of water weighs over 8 pounds (3.6 kilos), or sub in laundry detergent jugs instead.

Once you’ve got your weights, check out the American Council on Exercise (ACE) for some of the best fundamental moves to use them with.

Use A Towel Instead Of A Yoga Mat

Inner peace, cardiovascular health and a more positive body image are all oft-touted benefits of yoga, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you have a fitness mat, you can definitely use that for your yoga sessions, but if you’re completely mat-free, try putting down a towel, blanket or anything else to protect your knees from the floor. Even a bath mat would work. The goal is just to give yourself some cushion when you’re on your forearms or knees during poses like cat-cow, plus sweat protection if you’re practicing on carpet.

You can also make your own substitutes for other yoga gear, like a bathrobe tie or scarf for a yoga strap. A rolled up towel or woven blanket can be used as a bolster. For a makeshift yoga block, try a thick book, or a shoebox filled with smaller books or other sturdy items.

Make Your Own Kettlebell

Kettlebells are essentially just weights with handles, which makes them ideal for swinging. Still, kettlebell fans are devoted, since the exercise can be both a weight training opportunity and a good way to get your heart rate elevated, according to fitness app Daily Burn.

Don’t have your own at home? Make some! Laundry detergent jugs are a decent option, but you can get a better swing by using a plastic or reusable bag and filling it with heavy stuff, like a sack of flour. Just be sure to wrap it in extra plastic to prevent spillage.

You may need to modify the handle length, but you should be able to do the most fundamental kettlebell exercises with this setup. Now that you have your makeshift weights, try these kettlebell moves:

Use A Backpack As A Weighted Vest

Dumbbells and kettlebells not enough for you? You can add even more weight by packing a backpack full of water bottles, flour, books or other heavy items. Use it as a weighted vest during pushups or squats, or to up your effort during cardio routines.

You can also stuff a backpack (or duffle bag) full of towels or bags of potting soil for a makeshift sandbag. You can push it along the ground, throw it over your shoulder, or use it for lifting with your arms. Never used a sandbag before? XHIT Daily trainer Rebecca-Louise demonstrates sandbag moves in this video:

Create Makeshift Sliders

Bodyweight exercises like side lunges or mountain climbers are already beastly, but you can add additional difficulty without adding additional weight by using your own DIY sliders. Paper plates, towels and thick socks all glide smoothly across hard surfaces.

ACE says that sliding movements are particularly effective during pushup variations, lunge variations, and for ab workouts. Ready to give it a shot? Try this 20-minute slider workout with PopSugar Fitness where there’s no fancy equipment, just towels:

Do A Balancing Act

Balancing acts aren’t just for yogis and gymnasts – they can be an excellent way to improve ankle strength and prevent falls, according to Harvard Medical School. And who wouldn’t like fewer rolled ankles once we’re back out on the trails again?

If you’re a die-hard fan of the Bosu ball at the gym, or just looking to achieve a true sense of balance, you can make your own wobbly platform by putting a couch cushion on the floor, or doing balancing moves on your bed. For an intense arm challenge, put one arm on a basketball or other inflated ball while doing pushups.


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