With health technology and YouTube fitness videos, gone are the days of needing the help of an expensive gym membership or professional to help you keep fit and monitor your physical health. But did you know that you can take your DIY workout one step further and use everyday household items and furniture to hone your physique? Put that AbMaster3000 away and embrace the newest gym in town: Your lovely home!
One full 1-litre bottle of water weighs approximately 1kg (2.2 lb), making it the ideal weight for some light arm work such as bicep curls or even lateral raises: lift your arm up to a 90-degree angle away from your body, palm facing in towards you, and repeat 12 times for 3 sets. If you can get your hands on a bigger bottle, you can also work on overhead presses with a single gallon bottle, for example. For a greater challenge, fill the bottles with something heavier, for example, laundry detergent, corn syrup or even sand if you have some handy!
Rumor has it that the original StairMaster was inspired by the ordinary household staircase! If you don’t live over several floors, try taking the stairs every time you would ordinarily use the lift, and use the opportunity to burn some extra calories and strengthen the muscles in your legs. If you only have a few steps to work with, why not step up and down for a 30-minute period, or lightly jump up and down from the step with both feet simultaneously to raise your heart rate? Alternatively, if you have a piece of low furniture such as a low stool or bench to hand, you could use this as a step and create a step workout-like routine for a more fun, choreographed routine that you can enjoy doing to the beat of your favourite playlist. Check out this YouTube video for some hip-hop style stepping choreography guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
Netflix and chill just got a makeover. This one can be done in the commercial breaks during your favourite show (maybe refrain from the chips and dip this time), using your trusty couch as a support for some triceps dips. Sit on the edge of the couch with your hands by your side, fingers facing the same direction as your knees. Lift your hips off the couch and slide yourself forward, lowering yourself down towards the floor. Lift yourself up without resting on the couch and repeat.
Doing squats with your back to a wall is a great way to keep your form in check and make sure you are getting the maximum benefits from this position. Lean against the wall with your feet a few steps forward, and slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Slide back up and repeat, or hold the squat for a minute or more to further strengthen your quads. If you want an extra challenge, why not combine your wall squats with your water bottle weights and do a bicep curl every time you lower yourself into the squat?
Don’t be alarmed: you won’t need to climb onto the dining table for this. Providing you are in possession of a relatively sturdy dining or kitchen table, you have the perfect surface at your disposal for some standing push-ups. Standing in front of the table, extend your arms so that your hands are flat on the surface at shoulder width apart and bring your body weight forward until your shoulders are over your hands. Bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the table, keeping your elbows close to your body. Push yourself back up and repeat.
Bring yourself onto all fours with your shoulders above your hands, and your hips directly above your knees. Place the towel under your hands and use the towel to slide your hands and upper body forward and back, making sure to keep your body in one line without curving or arching your back as you come forward. The towel eliminates friction and stability, making it a challenge to keep your grip on the floor, which in turn activates a lot more muscles as you try to keep your body in one line. You can also reverse this exercise by coming into a plank position with the towel under your feet instead, and using the towel to slide your feet with control towards your hand, and back again. If you don’t have a bath towel lying around, you can also do these exercises with a magazine on a carpet.
If none of these exercises do it for you, don’t forget that a spot of housekeeping is also an excellent way to burn calories and kill two birds with one stone. Studies show that vacuuming, ironing and doing the dishes can burn up to 100 kcal an hour each, so maybe that’s the extra incentive you’ve always needed to finally get round to doing that pile of dishes! Try wearing some ankle weights while you go about your daily chores for that extra kick. Happy housekeeping!