fitness

The 10 household items you can use as exercise equipment.

Whether you’re time poor, a new mum or you just can’t bear the thought of having to brave the cold outside; exercising at home becomes a very attractive option.

The only problem? The living room isn’t quite as well equipped as the gym, and even fitness regimes designed to be done at home usually require some kind of overpriced “essential” tool to be done properly.

However according to personal trainers Blake Worrall-Thompson and Tristan Hill, you don’t necessarily need to spend big to see big results. In fact, everything you need may actually be hiding in the pantry…

10 household items that double as exercise equipment

1. Broomstick

“Broomsticks are a fantastic tool to use as a balancing aid during exercises that require a lot of balance,” explains Hill. “A great example of this is the ‘carrot picker’.”

What not to do...

How to do it: Stand on your right leg with a tall posture. While tilting forward at the hips, keep your right leg straight while maintaining a slight bend through your knee.

Lean forward, maintaining good posture, and touch the ground as if you were going to pick up a carrot, taking care to keep movement controlled at all times.

Touch the ground with your hand and return back to the starting position.

"Due to the high demand on your balance, hold the broomstick in your left hand to help maintain your balance," advises Hill.

Perform 12 on each leg, rest for a minute and then repeat.

2. Full washing bag

Not only will it be an excuse for not doing the laundry, but a full washing bag will also add that extra challenge to your workout, says Worrall-Thompson.

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"It's usually around a few kilos so works really well as a weights alternative during your workout," he says. (Post continues after gallery)

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3. Foam Roller

They seem to be the "it" piece of exercise equipment and while certainly useful, there are ways to DIY at home. Worrall-Thompson says that a tennis ball works well, as does a bunched up towel.

"If you roll a towel up properly and insert a rolling pin into the centre, it works just as well as a foam roller," he explains.

How to make your own foam roller. Image via iStock.

4. Chairs

According to Hill, chairs are an excellent choice to use for squats.

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He advises finding a chair that is at a height that it creates a 90 degree bend through your knees, which would be most dining room chairs.

"Start seated on the chair with your back straight and arms out in front of you," he explains.

"Then stand up and slowly lower yourself back to the chair, but only gently touching the chair so you are maintaining your body weight rather than the chair taking it."

The chair also acts as a great 'quality control' measure to ensure you're squatting to the depth you should be.

Start with 15 to 20 squats, rest for one minute and repeat.

5. Washing powder bottles

"Liquid washing powder bottles are usually around four kilos each, so pick up two and use them during your walking lunges or step ups," advises Worrall-Thompson.

Just make sure the lids are screwed on tightly!

Or goon sacks...

6. Lower Bench

Using a low bench (such as a garden bench) is perfect for doing dips. You can also try using your bed frame or any other low to mid surface - just take care and test that it can carry your weight before you use it.

7. Rug

If you have floorboards, a rug is the perfect piece of equipment that will allow you to take your workout up a level by using the sliding movement with care.

"It's great for mountain climbers or reverse, front and side lunges," says Worrall-Thompson.

"Just put one foot on the ground and one foot on the rug." (Post continues after gallery.)

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8. Stairs and steps

"The obvious exercise of choice for steps is a step-up, although steps can also be used to elevate your feet to increase the difficulty of your push-ups or put your hands on the step and perform 'plank' based movements at a reduced level of intensity," explains Hill.

His version of a step up requires a step approximately 30cm high. Starting on top of the step, stand on your right leg and lower your left leg slowly to the ground by bending the right knee. Gently touch the ground with your toes and then stand up tall again, making sure you keep all your body weight on your right leg throughout the movement.

Perform 15 touches on each leg and repeat a couple of sets.

Flights of stairs are also great for interval work.

"Try seeing how many times you can go up the stairs in one minute. Do one minute off, one minute rest, then repeat for five rounds," says Worrall-Thompson.

"To make it harder, try increasing the time on by 10 seconds, and reducing the rest time by 10 seconds."

why running is good for you

9. Cans

It doesn't matter whether they're full of beans, soup or coke - cans are a great way to improve your upper body strength, in particular your shoulder and back.

"My pick of an exercise with a can is figure of eights in a side hold position," says Hill.

Start by setting yourself in a side hold position with your weight resting on your forearm or hand. In the arm that's free, hold your arm out straight above your body and draw little figure of eights.

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According to Hill, this will work wonders on your core strength and shoulder stability.

Perform 10 motions on each arm, rest for one minute then repeat. (Post continues after gallery.)

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10. Milk Bottle

As your strength levels increase, Hill says three litre bottles of milk make for the perfect way to increase the intensity of the exercise so you can continue to see good results.

They can be used in any of the previous exercises as well as for presses above your head with lunges.

Tristan Hill is the owner of Atlas Sports Conditioning which is a company that mentors Personal Trainers to strive for excellence in the fitness industry. You can find more from Blake Worrall-Thompson at Wellbeing by Blake.

What do you use to exercise at home?

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