This article was originally published on https://www.frasersexperience.com/
You might be missing your gym workouts these days, but did you know you can get an effective workout from home with just a few household items? In fact, adding odd-shaped items to your workout mimic the unpredictable movements we need to perform in our daily lives.
Have you ever picked up a heavy box or tried to lift it onto a shelf above, and felt a twinge in your lower back or shoulder? Although we may know how to perform these tasks, our bodies are often not strong or mobile enough to execute the movement without injuring ourselves. This could be due to poor posture, lack of flexibility and strength around our joints, or both.
So why not make good use of this period by enhancing your strength and mobility so that daily movements such as carrying heavy groceries become easy and injury-free. This is a type of exercise modality called “functional training”. Beyond training your body to move efficiently, this type of training also improves your metabolism, stamina, endurance and more! Best of all, these items are probably lying around your house right now.
Read on to discover how household items can double up as fitness equipment and provide an exciting workout like you’ve never experienced before!
1. Kettlebell Swings for Functionality
Working out with odd-shaped items can improve your strength, balance and control by keeping your body guessing! Laundry detergent bottles can be used for kettlebell exercises such as kettlebell swings. Practice this move to improve glute and hip strength, tone your butt and achieve effective cardiovascular training. So if you’re short on time, skip your 10km run for this alternative.
Household item: Laundry Detergent Bottle
Instructions: Start with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width, and place the bottle between your feet. Prepare by bending forward with a straight back, and hinging your hips back like you are sitting on a chair. With knees slightly bent, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Holding the bottle handle, use your hips and glutes to propel the bottle forward. Perform seven to 10 sets of 45 seconds each, with a 15 second break in between.
Precaution: A common mistake is bending the knees too much and using your legs to propel the move. Instead, hinge forward, push your butt back, and power the swing from your glutes and hips.
2. Lunges for Balance
Spending too much time at the desk can cause your hip flexors to become tight. If not fixed, this muscle imbalance often leads to lower back issues, knee injuries and poor posture. One of the most effective solutions are lunges. Beyond developing glute strength, adding weight to this move will help to activate your core muscles as you try to balance and stabilise.
Household item: 5kg bag of rice, detergent powder or pet food
Instructions: To start, squat down with your back straight to pick up the bag with both hands. Stand up with the bag, and shift the bag to rest on your left shoulder. Your feet should be hip-width distance apart. Begin the lunge by stepping your left foot 2-3ft in front of you. Bend both knees to 90 degrees and extend them straight to finish the move. Perform three to four sets of 12 repetitions on both legs.
Precaution: Always practice the lunge without weight, before adding the bag into the exercise. During the move, keep your core tight, knees inline with your feet, and legs parallel to each other throughout the move. Focus on moving vertically instead of horizontally by keeping your upper body upright. If you feel unstable, move your legs slightly wider apart or closer together. Only advance to a heavier weight if you can execute the move perfectly and with control.
3. Floor Polishes for Core
All you need is a small floor mat and a smooth floor to perform exercises like Floor Polishes. They help you develop a strong core which is essential for protecting your lower back from injury.
Household item: Floor Mat or Small Rag
Instructions: Start in a plank position with both hands directly under your shoulders, knees off the floor and toes on the mat or rag like the top of a pushup. Make your body as straight as a plank by engaging your abs and keeping your lower back straight. Now drag the mat or rag towards you by driving your knees into your chest. Focus on squeezing your abdominal muscles to perform the move. Do five sets of 20 reps.
Precaution: Always keep your back straight and support your lower back by keeping your core tight at all times.
4. Bodyweight Dips for Upper Body
Chairs are useful especially if you need some assistance to perform challenging moves with proper technique, such as bodyweight dips. Dips help strengthen shoulders and tone your triceps, resulting in slimmer and shapelier arms.
Household item: Sturdy chair without handles
Instructions: Start by holding the sides of your chair and keeping your arms straight. Begin to drop your butt towards the floor while keeping your back parallel to the chair. As your arms start to bend, focus on using your triceps to support your weight. After your elbows reach 90 degree angles, push back up to the starting position. Repeat for three to four sets of 12 reps.
Precaution: Ensure your elbows are squeezed in towards each other throughout the exercise. To make dips easier, keep your feet on the ground closer to you, or step your heels further away for more of a challenge.
5. Deadlifts for Lower Body
Buckets are ideal for adding a fun element and more resistance to your workouts. Deadlifts, a lower body exercise, requires you to recruit your largest muscles, including upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings and even core muscles. This means more fat-burning!
Household item: Bucket and water
Instructions: First, fill your bucket with water. Start with 10 cups of water (equivalent to 5kg), and add more only after you can execute the move perfectly. Ideally, everyone should be able to deadlift their bodyweight, however, beginners should always start with 5kg and add weight progressively.
With legs wider than hip width apart, start your deadlift by pushing your hips back as if you’re sitting on a chair behind you, while your upper body bends forward slightly. Grab the handle of your bucket with both hands, stand back up and pull the bucket off the ground. Keep your core tight to protect your lower back. Perform this move for four sets of eight repetitions each.
Precaution: While bending forward, always keep your spine and neck in neutral position as if you have a pole tied along them. Keep the bucket close to your body, and bring it up and down vertically. Because this is an advanced move, make sure you execute each move slowly and perfectly before adding more weight or repetitions.
6. Skaters with Hops for Agility
Agility training was made popular by football players who needed to be quick and light on their feet. If you want to improve your agility, use this time to work on your balance, coordination and speed. You only need two to three canned items to get started with moves like skaters with hops.
Household item: Any type of canned food (the smaller or shorter the can, the more difficult the exercise)
Instructions: Skaters require you to leap side to side on a single leg. They can provide effective cardiovascular conditioning and fat-burning as it requires you to be quick and explosive, while maintaining control and balance at the same time. Start by standing with both legs about 1 foot behind the can. Now, leap to the other can with one leg and touch the can with your hand. Finish the move by jumping up vertically on the same leg. Repeat on the other side. Perform seven rounds for 30 to 45 seconds each.
Precaution: Distance between the two cans should be adjusted according to your fitness level. It is safer to start with a shorter distance. Always keep low to the ground with your knees bent as you jump.
Congratulations, you now have your very own home gym set-up for a comprehensive and challenging full body workout! With common household items, there are an infinite number of ways you can develop functionality, balance, strength and agility from home. We hope you’re inspired to work out with your family, be creative and have fun while staying fit. Because fitness is more than just exercising, it’s a lifestyle!
Written by Olivia Woo
Internationally-Certified Personal Trainer
This article was originally written for Frasers Experience.