No Equipment? No Problem!

Monday morning, why must you always come around so quickly?  That’s not very nice.

At least one of you will be able to start the week off with some exciting news.  The winner of my Gabbie’s Goodies giveaway is Georgia, who said:  “I would love either of the macadamia bon bons – either the white chocolate or dark. Yummy!!”

Congratulations, Georgia!  Please email me at akaralekas@gmail.com to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone else who participated in the giveaway.  If you didn’t win, you can always still get a taste for Gabbie’s Goodies by ordering online from their website here.

Moving on!

A few months ago, I took a workshop called “No Equipment Necessary.”  Us fitness instructors and personal trainers are required to keep up with a certain amount of continuing education credits every year, and I thought this one sounded really interesting.  Plus, I had just started teaching and definitely wasn’t used to working my clients hard without full access to my precious classroom gym toys!  Benches, balls, weights, bars, mats, bands… the list goes on.

During the workshop we learned how to think outside the box and find everyday items that we could turn into “toys” and include in our strength training classes and/or individualized client workout plans. Some of these suggestions included:

  • Water bottles
  • Towels
  • Chairs
  • Stairs
  • Body weight
  • A wall
  • A heavy hardcover book
  • Tennis balls

Not only did I find these ideas helpful for my strength training and outdoor bootcamp classes, but for at home workouts as well.  Lets be honest, we all have those days where we are pressed for time and might not be able to make it to the gym, but still would like to get a quick and sweaty workout in at home.  I’m willing to bet that you can really spice up your at home workouts by incorporating some new common household items.  I betcha all have some of these just lying around too!

8 Common Household Items To Spice Up Your Workout Routine

1. Water Bottles
Water bottles are a wonderful option if you aren’t privy to a set of dumbbells.  A full sixteen ounce water bottle weighs about a pound and can be used in place of dumbbells for exercises such as bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions, chest presses, or shoulder raises.  If these seem too light, increase your number of reps. You can also try using gallons of water, which weigh in at about 8 pounds each.  Don’t have water bottles or gallons? Canned goods work well too. You might get some weird looks from your roommates, significant other, or kids for exercising with green beans, but whatever works.

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2. Towels
There are so many moves you can do with a towel!  First, you can use it if you would like to do floor work but don’t have a mat.  I had all my bootcampers bring a towel from home to use for abs instead of having to lay on the dirty ground! You can also use towels for plyometric exercises that get the heart rate up, such as placing the towel on the ground and just jumping back and forth over it, keeping your feet together.

Towels can also be used as resistance bands.  My favorite way to use towels for upper body resistance work is to combine them with moves that target the lower body at the same time.  This way you get more bang for your buck!  One of my go to exercises is to start standing with feet hip width apart while holding the towel overhead, pulling at each end for the resistance.  Squat down and bring the towel down in front of your chest, then stand back up and raise the towel so it is overhead again.  That’s one rep.  Maintain that squeeze throughout all the workout.

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3. Chairs
Chairs can be used in place of exercises that you might normally use a bench for at the gym.  The same goes for tables, ledges, boxes, and more.  Tricep dips are a great example of how to effectively use a chair, or in this case a picnic bench, to switch up your workouts.

Other great chair moves include step ups, incline or decline pushups, planks with your feet on the chair, and one-legged squats.

4. Stairs
Stairs can be used in a similar way as chairs, but I like to use them to add some cardio to my at home or outdoor workouts!  You can jog up and walk down, sprint up and jog down, or really do any combination of cardio that you wish.  I love to incorporate stair runs into high intensity interval training.  Do 2 minutes of stair runs as fast as you can in between other strength moves.  You could even make a whole stair themed workout!

These are the stairs I like to workout on at the reservoir near my Boston.

5. Body Weight
What greater tool do you have at your disposal than your own body?  Squats, Lunges, Plies, Pushups, Crunches, Planks – all these and more can be done with just your own body weight.  I love to make all the “regular” moves harder by adding some higher intensity options such as jump squats, burpees, spiderman pushups, and side planks.  You can even get some great cardio in with just your own body with jumping jacks (just watch out for ceiling fans!), jump ropes, high knees, and quick feet. The possibilities are endless.

6. The Wall
Everyone has access to a wall somewhere!  The wall is a wonderful option for beginner pushups, balance exercises that require you to use one leg at a time, and even for stretching too. There’s nothing better than a good standing calf stretch against the wall!

My favorite way to use the wall? Wall sits!

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7.  A Heavy Book
I thought this was such a creative idea, one that I had never even considered before.  Instead of holding a dumbbell for crunches as seen below, use a heavy book instead!

[Picture Source]

8. Tennis Balls
Another great way to incorporate cardio.  This was actually the suggestion I brought to the discussion during the workshop. In bootcamp, I like to make class more of a game with the tennis balls by setting up a bucket in the center of the field, dividing the class into four teams standing at the four corners of the field.  Each team has to then sprint to the middle, get one ball at a time, and either lunge back to the corner, back jog, etc. Whoever has the most balls in their corner at the end wins! Then later in the workout, you’d do the reverse to put them back.

If you’re doing this at home on your own, just don’t make it a game!  Run back and forth its the same concept and a great way to get your heart rate up.

And now go try some on your own!

Here’s a sample total body circuit for you, to be done all the way through and then repeated two more time for a total of 3 circuits.  Remember to honor your injuries, listen to your bodies, and check with a doctor before starting any new fitness regimen.

No Equipment Necessary Circuit Workout

This total body workout should take probably 30-40 minutes, depending on how many breaks or rests you incorporate. You’ll work legs, biceps, core, triceps, shoulders, chest, and get cardio in too!

What are your favorite ways to workout when you don’t have any equipment?!

Have a good one!

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