As I sit down to write this article, I watch three inches of snow fast become a seven-inch blanket over the four inches of rain that dropped yesterday. Don’t get me wrong—I love snow and rain! But to layer up, brush wet snow off the car, and drive to the gym in this muck…? I’m not feeling it.

With clever planning and creativity, you can make the best of a gloomy shut-in day by turning everyday items into your workout gear and home into the gym. And I’m not talking about simple bodyweight exercises, either. Burpees and mountain climbers get the blood flowing, and you can add so much variety simply by looking at what’s in your home.

Here are a few examples of how the most common household items can become your new go-to workout equipment…


Home Workout Tips: How to Use Towels as Workout Equipment

If you have a smooth, non-carpeted floor space, using towels to perform regular movements will work the muscles differently. A special focus can be placed on stabilizing muscles, which tend to be neglected in common workout routines.

Sliding Back Lunges

  1. Place your left foot on a towel and slide your left leg back to a lunge position while stabilizing with the right leg. 
  2. Focusing on engaging your right glute, hold the lunge for a count of two before sliding your left foot back to the starting position. 

Perform 12 to 15 reps before switching to the other side. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.

Plank Wipes

  1. Assume the plank position with each hand on a towel. 
  2. Slide your left hand past your head as far as possible without breaking form. 
  3. Now slide out to the left side in a crescent shape, returning to your starting position.

Alternate sides for a total of 20 reps. Two to 3 sets of this exercise, and you’ll be recalling the experience for days. Ouch!

Sliding Bridges

  1. Lay on your back with knees bent and each foot on a towel. 
  2. Press through your heels and bring your hips up to the bridge position. 
  3. Keep your hips off the ground while you slide your feet away from your body. 
  4. Straighten your knees as much as possible. 
  5. Hold at the furthest point for a 2 count. 
  6. Use your hamstrings to slide your feet back to the starting bridge position. 
  7. Engage your glutes throughout the movement to keep your hips off the ground. 

Perform three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Make this movement tougher with a single-leg sliding bridge. The setup and movements are the same, but one leg is held straight off the ground while sliding with the opposite leg. The challenge is to keep the hips level throughout the movement. It’s harder than it sounds!

Tip: If your only available space for working out is carpeted, you can use plastic container lids instead of towels.


How to Use Chairs For Your Workout

Who knew that the piece of furniture that causes so much hip and back pain could be used to strengthen your body and improve your health?

Inclined Tricep Push-Ups

  1. Be sure the chair is pushed against a wall and stable so it doesn’t slide. 
  2. Place your hands on either edge of the seat and get into an inclined plank position. 
  3. Turn your elbows in, so they bend close to your body. 
  4. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the chair seat. 
  5. Press into the chair to lift back to the starting position. 

Repeat 12 to 15 reps for a total of 3 sets.

Chair Step-ups

  1. Place your left foot on the seat of the chair. 
  2. Without leaning too far forward, engage the left glute and drive through your heel to a standing position on the chair. 
  3. Slowly lower your right leg back to the starting position.

Repeat 12 to 15 reps on each side for a total of 3 sets.

Bulgarian Split Squats

  1. With your back to the chair, place the top of your left foot on the chair seat so your knee is bent behind you. 
  2. Shift your hips so your weight is centered between both feet.
  3. Bend your right knee to a 45-degree angle. (Your right knee should not pass the toes of your right foot. If it does, adjust your foot placement before the next rep.) 
  4. Drive up through your right heel to return to the starting position.

Repeat 12 to 15 reps on each side for a total of 3 sets.

Running Step-ups

  1. Face the chair and alternate tapping the seat with the toes of each foot. 
  2. Start slowly at first and gradually increase speed as you get more confident in the movement.

Perform 3 sets of 45 seconds to 1 minute.


Home Workouts With a Basketball

Yep! I said it. Target shoulder stability and fire up intrinsic core muscles with these exercises. 

Tip: These exercises work just as well with a volleyball or soccer ball or whatever ball you have available in your home to work with!

Single Side Ball Pushup

  1. Hold a plank position with your hands just outside shoulder width. 
  2. Place your left hand on the basketball, letting your left elbow bend to accommodate the height of the ball. 
  3. Lower as far as you can without breaking form and drive up through both hands to return to the starting position. Note: This pushup can also be done on the knees. Just be sure your body forms a straight line from your neck to your knees. Avoid flexing at the hips.

Do 8 to 10 pushups before moving the ball to the other side and repeating. Start out with 1 set and work towards 3 sets of 10 per side.

Ball Planks

There are 2 types of planks you can do with a basketball. Elevated and declined. 

  1. For the Elevated Planks, both hands on the ball while holding a plank position. Hold for 20 - 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 sets.
  2. For Decline Planks, put both feet on the ball and hold the plank with your hands on the ground under your shoulders. Hold for 20 0 30 seconds and repeat for 3 sets.

An intermediate option for either plank is to narrow your base. Place your feet together rather than further apart for the elevated ball planks. For the decline planks, bring your hands closer together. 

Remove one point of stability to advance these movements further. For the Elevated Planks, lift one leg off the ground. For Decline Planks, extend one arm past your head, keeping your upper arm next to your ear. When choosing this option, be sure to repeat on the other side.

Bridge Squeezes

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent and place the ball between your knees. 
  2. Squeeze your glutes and drive through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. 
  3. Squeeze your inner thighs together to avoid dropping the ball. 
  4. Hold at the top for a 2 count before lowering. 

Complete 3 sets of 15 to 20.

You can also adapt this exercise by holding the bridge or pulsing at the top for 45 seconds. Remember, the goal is not to drop the ball!

At-Home Cardio Options

Want to get your heartrate up even further? Here are some at-home cardio ideas!

Jump Rope

You don’t need a jump rope to get the benefits of jumping rope. Go through the movement as if you’re holding a jump rope. Shoot for 3 sets of 1 minute. Incorporating this into any workout will lift your heart rate fast.

Stair Runs

If you’re new to running up and down stairs, start out slow. Focus on your form going both up and down the stairs. Engage your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core. As you get comfortable doing this without holding onto a rail, add your arms as you would if running. Slowly work your way up to a faster speed. Going up and down three times without rest will elevate your heart rate even at a slower pace.


It might sound "too easy," but getting on the floor and getting back up is harder than it sounds. Burpees are a great addition to any workout and are a perfect movement for small spaces.

How to Add Weight to At-Home Workouts

You’ll be surprised at what is around your house that can add resistance to bodyweight exercises. From canned corn to bags of dog food or cat litter, you have many options to bring resistance to your at-home workout. Here are just a few ideas:

An unopened bag of dog food or cat litter on one shoulder can increase the intensity of sliding back lungs, forcing your core and stability muscles to work even harder. Switch shoulders when you switch legs.

Wear a backpack when performing the Incline Tricep Pushups or the Plank Wipes. Add books to your backpack to increase weight.

Perform the following circuit with a can of corn (or any other veggie!) in each hand:

  • Shoulder presses x 15
  • Left stance shadow boxing - 1 minute
  • Lateral raises x 15
  • Right stance shadow boxing - 1 minute
  • Bent over rows x 15
  • Jump rope (perform the movement holding the cans instead of using a jump rope) - 1 minute

Repeat 4 sets of the circuit without breaking between sets.

Too easy for you? Add a 3-1-3-1 tempo to each strength exercise. For example, for the shoulder press, count to 3 as you press up, hold at the top for a one-count, and count to 3 as you lower back to the starting position. Hold for a one-count before repeating. 


Final Home Workout Tips

Admit it! You’ll never look at towels or dog food the same after one of these sessions. You’ll see your home workouts in a new light. One that’s powerful and invigorating. Perhaps you’ll even want to add it to your permanent routine. 

With some creative thinking, you can have the makings of an ‘at-home gym’ without spending a dime. Your wellness journey need not be hindered by rainy days, snow, or just wanting to stay in. 

If you need a little support staying motivated or getting creative with your fitness and nutrition, a 1-on-1 nutrition coach can help! Learn more about our membership options here!

What ‘workout gear’ is in your home? Let us know in the comments below.