You might think to have the best fitness program possible, you need to join a gym. After all, they tend to be great places to exercise, offering variety and stability in ways not always possible when working out at home. Gyms also tend to provide plenty of equipment might be beyond your budget or space availability if you were to try to duplicate it on your own. But for as great as gyms may be, they aren’t your only option for burning fat and achieving your body goals. In fact, with the right exercise swaps, you can effectively work out anywhere with little to no props necessary.
No Equipment? These Exercise Swaps Make It No Problem!
Just as a closet full of clothing as big as any boutique makes it easy to dress your best, a gym full of endless equipment options makes it easy to target every bit of your body. But if you’re like most of us, your closet only has a fraction of that amount of apparel available and still you manage to pull together an outfit that exudes personality and confidence. It comes down to creativity, and this creativity is not only useful for dressing yourself but also for exercising.
Squat racks, leg press machines, pull-up bars, treadmills, and benches are definitely beneficial in any kind of workout. But if you don’t have access to them, it doesn’t mean those areas of the body should go unworked. Instead, by thinking outside the box, or in this case the gym, you can replicate the same results without the need for a costly membership or a house full of bulky equipment. Here are a few exercise swaps to get you started.
The No-Bench Bench Press: A workout bench is typically where most bench presses are performed, as it allows your arms to move below the plane of your body versus the floor, for example. But you don’t need a workout bench to do a bench press. Instead, try resting your upper body on a large exercise ball with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. You’ll not only build strength in your chest and pecs, but also challenge your core muscles. Keep in mind, since balancing will now be a factor, start with a lower weight than you might normally press.
- Detergent Jug Squats: A squat rack and dumbbells make simple work of weighted squats, but there are other ways to execute this full-body exercise. Plenty of common household items offer plenty of heft when you want more resistance than body weight but don’t have any heavy metal. For example, hold one jug of laundry detergent in both hands at chest height to complete a set of squats. Or, if you do lighter loads of laundry, hold two similarly weighted smaller bottles (one in each hand) to mimic dumbbells. Other items to consider are paint cans, kitty litter containers, or the laundry basket filled with clothes.
- Resistance Bands Leg Press: The leg press machine is a beastly sized piece of equipment. So while it’s likely you won’t have one in your home, some gyms won’t have them either. To fire up your quads without the mega metal footprint, a resistance band is all you really need. To do, lie flat on your back and bring your knees in toward your chest. Loop a resistance band around your feet so that one end is in each hand at the sides of your body. Reduce the slack and increase the tension by adjusting where you hold the band in your hands. Once you’ve found the correct resistance, push your feet out and up so that when your legs are straight, they make about a 45-degree angle with the floor.
Table Rows: Be it low ceilings or high doorways, some spaces aren’t set up for pull-up bars. You could head to a nearby park to get in some pull-ups on the playground, or you could stay home and put a heavy, sturdy table to use for some inverted rows. Both exercises work the same muscle groups, only from different angles. Start by lying on your back under a table with your face aligned with the table edge. Gripping the table edge and keeping your legs straight with feet planted, engage your back muscles as you lift your body to a 45-degree angle with the floor. Lower slowly down to complete one rep. If you’re used to doing traditional full-body rows and this version is too light, try placing a flat weighted item on your chest. If these are too hard for you to do, try bending your knees and moving your feet in closer to your body.
- Towel Rows: Most cable machine exercises can easily be swapped with inexpensive resistance bands. The one that might be tricky to get enough resistance is seated rows. To really get your back engaged, try using a towel and a stationary pole or column in your home to create an enhanced body weight back exercise. Wrap a towel around a pole or column with one end in each hand. (Note: the longer the towel, the more difficult the exercise.) Place your feet below your hips and lean back with straight arms so that your body is on an angle. Engage your back and lat muscles to pull yourself up to create one rep.
These are just five of many exercise swaps you can use when equipment is limited. For more, think creatively about how you can work your muscles in similar ways using objects more available to you. Already have a favorite exercise swap? Share with others in the comments!