Best Alternatives to Weights For At-home Workouts

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Written by Risa Schulman
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3 minutes

Curious How Much Your Household Items Weigh? Try These Substitutes For Weights at Home

At-home workouts are great - you can try new things without fear of judgement, you’re on your own schedule, and you don’t have to wait for strangers to finish using shared gym equipment. However, one thing that may be stopping you from working out at home is the lack of an at-home weight set. Good news: you can still get a great weighted workout using items you already have in your home. So, before you run out to your closest fitness store to spend hundreds of dollars on weights, try these alternatives.

Household items that weigh under 5lbs:

Canned Food

A 16 oz can weighs about 1 pound. Since these cans have about the same dimensions as a dumbbell, this is a good option for those who are just starting their at-home weighted workout journey.

White Claw Cans

This hard seltzer is slightly heavier than most canned foods, weighing in at 1.2 pounds. But, White Claw cans have a uniquely smaller circumference than most other canned items, which may make it easier for you to grip while maintaining your form. If you’re planning on sipping after your workout, let the can sit for a while when you’re done so you don’t end up with a fizzy explosion.

Household items that weigh 5-10lbs:

Paint Cans

Most of us have extra paint cans lying around the house. Why not put them to good use? A full gallon of paint weighs around 6-7 pounds. If your paint can is partially used, it can be a great, lighter-weight solution - just make sure the lid is tightly sealed to avoid any colorful accidents.

Gallons Of Water/Milk/Etc.

One gallon of liquid weighs around 8.4 pounds, and is a great at-home solution thanks to its convenient handle. Need to step it up a bit? Try holding two gallons in each hand, if your grip allows without straining. Remember to start slowly!

Laundry Detergent

Using laundry detergent can add some extra weight to your workout. A full, 150 oz container of detergent weighs about 9.4 lbs. And, just like gallon jugs, laundry detergent has handles you can grip.

Household items that weigh over 10lbs:

Boxed Wine

Many popular boxed wines contain 5 liters of liquid, which comes to about 11 pounds. Since these boxes are larger and bulkier than other items on this list, reserve this item for weighted squats or other activities that let you safely handle the box.

Bags Of Rice

Although rice comes in all shapes and sizes, the biggest bags can weigh anywhere between 20 and 50 pounds. It may take you a while to eat through that much rice, so why not use it as a weight in the meantime? Like boxed wine, reserve this at-home weight alternative for exercises like squats to ensure you don’t injure yourself. And, before tackling a 20+ pound bag of rice, make sure you can handle lower weight items.

Always Put Safety First

When you get creative, many items in your home can become a suitable alternative to typical weights. For a more long-lasting at-home weight system, try filling containers, water bottles, or old jars with water or sand. No matter what you end up using during your at-home workout, make sure you’re putting your safety first. To avoid injury, start with lighter weights and move up as you’re ready. Since many of these objects have unconventional shapes, pay special attention to your grip and your form. If you have any trouble holding something securely while keeping good form, put it down and try something else.

Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. has been helping companies and people build wellness for 25 years.

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