We are facing challenging times due to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. One of the most efficient strategies to prevent contamination is isolation because this virus appears to be spreading from person to person. We are all strongly advised to stay at home and not participate in social events that gather more than 10 people. I think we can all agree that confinement is the right thing to do, but we need to give a lot of effort from our side to keep things working in the professional, personal and health areas.
At Barbell Beauties, we know that resistance training is an important piece in your fitness journey. We want to give you some ideas for you to use household furniture as gym equipment. We know it won’t be the same but your objective of improving fitness won’t be interrupted. As always, be careful and make a safe space for your workout.
Best double use of your household items
Kettlebell and Dumbbell Alternatives
- Use a laundry detergent container as a kettlebell.
It’s better if the container has a handle. This is a great alternative for single-arm movements.
- Use water bottles or other similar-sized plastic bottles as dumbbells for your upper-body exercises. You can refill empty bottles with sand or water.
Regardless of what you choose to use, have a set ready for when your workout includes dumbbell step-overs, dumbbell snatches, dumbbell thrusters, dumbbell hang power cleans, dumbbell overhead lunges or kettlebell swings. Don’t forget to keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes at the top of each movement.
You can use a backpack as a weighted vest.
To add weight you can throw a few cans of food or water bottles into your backpack. You can use your backpack to make simple bodyweight movements like the burpee, air squat, lunge, and push-up more difficult. Don’t forget to weigh the bag on a bathroom scale and keep tracking your numbers.
Basketballs for upgraded pushups
When performed in unstable conditions, push-ups can help to activate hard-to-train muscle groups in a way conventional ones cannot, according to a study published in the Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness. Before trying this challenging exercise, try a plank with both hands on the ball and with your core tight. If you are comfortable, go ahead and do as many pushups as you can!
Brooms for mobility
Broomsticks are great for mobility work. Grab it with a wide grip, and start with it in front of your hips. Bring the bar up overhead then behind your head and down toward your glutes. Go back to the front of your body and repeat. This movement will help you warm up your shoulders and arms. Some athletes said that this also helps fine-tune their positioning.
Stairs for endurance
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine stated that regularly walking up 400 steps —or about 33 floors—during the course of a day can substantially increase your endurance, giving you a 17% bump in VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in during exercise). Avoid the elevator and use the stairs, even better if you come home with the week’s groceries!
Laundry basket for deadlifts
The deadlift is one of the best full-body exercises you can do. Many trainers would argue it’s THE best, because it’s the perfect example of a compound exercise, which means it forces you to use multiple muscle groups at once.
Using the laundry basket for this functional movement is a great idea. Don’t forget to keep a proper form. Start standing with a microbend in the knees. Send hips back to lower down and grab the basket. Engage hamstrings and glutes to press hips forward back to start.
The fitness trainer Steve Cook advices “load up a laundry basket and do more of a sumo deadlift. Sumo deadlifts are when you move your legs out a little bit wider, your hands are in close, and it’s pretty much like picking something off the floor, like a laundry basket… Practice picking it up. To kick things up a notch, keep the workout going as you take the stairs. When you go up and down the stairs, lunge,” he says.
Duffel bag as sandbag
In this article the coach Jeff Grant teaches how to do your own sandbag for CrossFit. He uses a military duffle bag and wood stove heating pellets. In our case, since we are in a short term (hopefully) confinement at our houses, we don’t need to go that fancy. We could fill a regular duffle bag with a bunch of clothes, grains from the pantry or wood stove heating pellets. You can use an inner bag to avoid leaks.
Now, keep your core engaged and enjoy working out with your homemade sandbag. If you are looking for some sandbag workout ideas, read this article by coach Jeff Grant and as he says “there are awesome things you can do with a sandbag!”.
Pile of foam mats as a plyo box
I have seen people at my gym using this alternative when they are practicing their box jumps. You just need to stack up foam mats, maybe from your kids playroom. Even though you need a lot of them to have an adequate “alternative” box you will see that it’s easy to use and pretty comfortably. But the best part is that they’re safe on your shins!
Use a door frame to progress in your burpees
Burpees are one of the few equipment-free exercises that work your entire body and give you a great cardiovascular workout. At home you can level up your performance and set a jumping target at the level of your door frame. Do your standard burpee but when jumping tap the top of a doorframe between each rep.
If you want to go bananas you can also use the One-Legged Burpee Stand modification. Which is lifting one leg behind you when you are going down and then keep the lifted leg off the ground the entire time. After you jump, place the lifted leg back on the ground to end in the starting position.
Practice your wall walks
This Crossfit exercise is one of the most effective ways to tone your abs. It works your entire body, but mostly the core and upper body. The equipment? All you need is a wall. Just follow these steps:
- Start in the “up push-up” position with your feet against the wall behind you.
- Walk your feet up the wall, at the same time walk your hands back towards the wall.
- Walk up until you are in a complete handstand position as flat to the wall as you can.
Keep your core tight and back straight.
- To finish, walk your hands away from the wall and your feet down the wall until you are back in the push-up position
We hope you will have fun figuring out your equipment at home and performing your WOD. Please, as always, put safety first. Take special care when lifting heavy weights and handling large bottles filled with sand or water. Working out at home doesn’t mean that you can wear your pajamas and be barefoot. Wear your workout clothes and protect your feet. But most of all, have fun and be aware of not disturbing your neighbors! Especially if you live in an apartment. Keep safe and keep after it, even during these difficult times!
Giuliana is a yoga instructor and Crossfitter from Peru who is currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand with her Crossfit Coach (and husband) Tim.