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Workout at Home Using Common Household Items as Exercise Equipment

To keep it interesting, I like to keep trying new mental and physical exercises.

Household items used for exercise equipment.

Household items used for exercise equipment.

Exercise Equipment

You could go to a gym and use their exercise equipment, or you could buy equipment and exercise at home. Both of these options cost money. Another option is to use things you already have at home. You don't need to spend money on equipment, and it does not take up extra space. Look around your house, and you should be able to find common household items you can use as exercise equipment. If you look outside, you might be able to also find things in your yard you can use.


Stairs are great for exercising. You can walk, run or just step up and down your stairs. Do it multiple times, and you can get a good lower body workout. They have equipment and exercise machines so you can exercise like you were using a set of stairs, but you can use the real thing for free.

You can do incline and decline push-ups for your upper body using a set of stairs. It is easy to increase or decrease the difficulty by changing your level. Raise your legs, and it becomes harder. Raise your hands, and it becomes easier. I started doing one-handed push-ups on the stairs to make it easier.

You don't need anything fancy, a simple chair will do.

You don't need anything fancy, a simple chair will do.

Chairs and Footstools

You can do step-up exercises on chairs and footstools. They have the added benefits of allowing you to step sideways, and the stepping distance is greater than using a set of stairs. Stepping up, down, and side to side is fairly easy, but with repetition, it can still give you a good workout.

Lifting your body off the ground with your arms is extremely difficult. Unless I use something to raise me up, I need to do it using my knuckles or my fingers to get high enough that my legs are not touching the ground. Chairs or stools make it much easier. You are still lifting your body weight, but you don't need to raise your legs as much. While sitting in a chair, you can do an easier version of the L-sit. If you have good arm rests on the chair, you can use them and lift your body higher. Just straighten your legs put your hands at your side, and lift your body up. It does not look like much if you don't get very far off the chair, but it gives your tricep muscles and abs a good workout.

Backpacks, Bags, and Buckets

You don't need something called a dumbbell or a barbell to lift weight. Lots of things are heavy enough for working out. Backpacks and duffle bags are designed to hold a lot of weight. You could easily fill them up and use them in place of dumbbells or barbells. If the bags are filled with things that are not easily broken, you could throw them around for exercise. Throwing heavy objects around can really work your muscles. They are really versatile because it is easy to change the amount of weight.

While doing cardio exercises, you can carry a heavy bag or wear a backpack. The extra weight will give you more of a workout. For bodyweight exercises, you use your body weight but you could add some extra weight to increase the difficulty. Increasing the difficulty of the workout means you do not need to do as many repetitions to improve your body. If you fill a duffle bag with something soft like towels and tie it to a tree, you can use it as a punching bag.

Buckets are built for carrying things like dirt or water. You can use them as weights. By filling them near the top, you can also work on your balance. If you put the buckets on a long stick like a broom handle, you can walk around while trying not to spill the contents of the buckets. It can give you a great workout if the buckets are heavy enough.

Towels are one of the most versatile pieces of workout equipment!

Towels are one of the most versatile pieces of workout equipment!


If you have a smooth floor, you can do towel sliding exercises. You can put towels under your hands, feet, or both. To do towel mountain climbers, get into a push-up position with a towel under each foot. Then quickly bring your knees forward and back again like you are running. You could do it at a slower pace if you wanted to. Standing on two towels, you can do towel splits. Slide your legs apart sideways or front and back. Hold the position, and then use your leg muscles to slide back to the starting position.

Sliding planks are another good towel exercise. Start in the raised push-up position with a towel under your feet. Slide your feet forward towards your chest. Return to the starting position and do another. Most of the weight should be on your hands. If the weight switches to your feet, you have gotten too close or bent your knees too much. Hold the plank position before sliding your feet forward. You could do a slightly different exercise by sliding your arms instead of your leg. To increase the difficulty, stretch out farther than a regular plank, so your hands are in front of you instead of under your shoulders. Instead of keeping your legs fairly straight, you could move into the frog position with your hand, and feet close together.

Lat pulls are similar to pull-ups, but you are pulling yourself forward and pushing yourself back. Put a towel or two on the floor and lay down on them. Move your hands out in front of you so you are in a horizontal pull-up position. Then pull and push your body. It is my favorite towel exercise because I don't need to do a lot of repetitions to get results. I also like sliding push-ups. To do a sliding push-up, get into the standard push-up position with a towel under each hand. Bring your hand together like you are going to do a narrow grip push-up. Slide your arms apart until the grip is extremely wide or as far as you are comfortable with. Then slide back into the narrow grip. With a little experimenting, you could probably figure out some other sliding exercises.

If you rap a towel up, you can do resistance exercises like towel lifts. Lift a rolled-up towel like you would a barbell. You can do a large variety of different movements, including floor presses. It is not the same as doing a bench press or a floor press with a barbell, but when I did, it felt similar. To be effective, you need to pull hard on the towel like you are trying to move your arms farther apart. Being strong does not make the exercise easier. You are pitting one muscle against another. The technique could also be used for your legs. For instance, you could hold the towel with your hands and push it again with your leg or foot.

Towels can soften a blow. Wrap a towel around your hand for protection, and you can use them like boxing gloves. You could also wrap a towel around the object you are punching. For example, you could use a tree as a punching bag and use the towels to protect your hands.


If you have trees in your yard, you can probably do pull-ups using a tree branch. As long as the tree branch is strong enough and you can reach it, it can work as well as a pull-up bar. There are lots of different pull-up variations. Trees can also provide you with logs. Carrying a big log around is great exercise. You could use wood like you would barbells or dumbbells. If you have some rope, you could put it across the branch of a tree. Pull a log up, let it down and then do it again.


You can easily raise your body off the ground using books. I used books when doing L-sits. It makes it easier to get my legs off the ground. They also work for push-ups and other exercises. Use them to get farther off the ground or so you can dip your body past the starting point. Of course, books also provide information. Some of your books may provide you with some exercise ideas.

Believe it or not, your TV can be a great source of inspiration for you.

Believe it or not, your TV can be a great source of inspiration for you.

TV & Computer

Sitting around watching TV or using your computer does not provide you with exercise. However they can provide you with knowledge and inspiration. Learn some good body weight exercises that don't require exercise equipment. For instance you could learn yoga. Body weight exercises can work as well as lifting weights. One major advantage of learning new exercises is that it reduces boredom. Besides learning about different exercises you can learn about different muscles.

There are also a lot of attractive fit people on TV and on the internet. Seeing them may inspire you. You can also just watch regular TV shows and movies while you exercise. There are lots of different exercises you can do while looking at and listening to the TV.


You can get good results by using your body and common household items. Adding these items to your home gym or having them as your only equipment should provide you with all the tools you need. You have probably gotten lots of exercise doing household chores and yard work. There is no need to restrict yourself to working out with items that are only for exercising.

I only mentioned a few items and some of the things you can do with them. All it takes is a quick look around your home and some imagination.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Rich from Gold Coast on April 09, 2013:

Very good. I especially like the pushups using stairs. I guess you simply start at the bottom and work your way up. Different hand positions will change the muscles involved too.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on October 15, 2012:

I walk up and down the stairs everyday, at least 20 times a day doing household chores. Useful info you have here. Voted up

kat_thurston on October 15, 2012:

This couldn't have come at a better time as I am trying to lose a large amount of weight. I don't have money to invest in equipment or time for going to the gym so I started using the bottom two steps of our stairs in our house for excerising. Great information.