How to Use Household Items as Exercise Equipment

Tom Kelso

Contributor - Strength and Conditioning

St. Louis, Illinois, United States

Strength and Conditioning

If you don’t have access to a gym with a plethora of modern-day equipment and exercise gadgets, you can still accomplish your goals - if you are creative and work hard.


You may not have at your disposal the latest state-of-the-art exercise equipment, but that shouldn’t be something that stops you. The key is to be imaginative with what you have and exude maximal intensity.



What would you do if you only had these?


  • 2 chairs
  • 2 full 1-gallon paint cans or other full containers
  • An overhead bar or other device from which to hang from


chairs, chair


Here are my suggestions. Give them a try or do your own versions and post your experiences to the comments below.


Workout 1

  1. 2-can squat
  2. Dips between the chairs
  3. Wide grip pull up on an overhead bar



  1. 2-can static hold squat
  2. 2-can overhead press
  3. 2-can bent-over row


  1. Pick up one chair and squat
  2. Push up between chairs
  3. Close grip pull up on an overhead bar





  1. Pick up two chairs and squat
  2. 2-can standing chest press
  3. 2-can upright row


Set, repetition, and rest time options:

  • Three to five rounds of the four segments
  • Maximum repetitions each or a set number (i.e. 15 or 20)
  • No rest, :15, or :30 between exercises, exercise segments, or rounds depending on the number of rounds


Workout 2

  1. Burpees x 30
  2. 2-can lunges x 10 each leg
  3. Bear crawl at 50ft/15.24m x 3 lengths
  4. 2-can squat-to-overhead press x 25
  5. Overhead bar hang for maximum time
  6. Push ups with feet anchored on chairs x maximum reps
  7. 2-can goblet squat x 35
  8. 2-can crunch ups x 20
  9. Plank hold between chairs for maximum time




Set and rest time options:

  • Two to three rounds of the nine exercises
  • No rest, :20, or :40 between exercises and segments, depending on the number of rounds


Workout 3

  1. 2-can bent-over row with a :10 pause in the fully contracted position for maximum reps
  2. 2-can walking lunge x 20 on each leg
  3. Pick up two chairs and overhead press x maximum reps
  4. 1-chair bicep curls (hold it any way you want) x maximum reps
  5. 1-chair continual step ups x 2:00
  6. 1-chair curl-to-press x maximum reps
  7. Close grip push up x maximum reps
  8. 2-can wall sit x maximum time
  9. Close grip pull up on an overhead bar for maximum reps
  10. 2-can crunch ups x 25
  11. Right leg jumping jacks x 40
  12. Crab walk at 50ft/15.24m x 3 lengths
  13. Left leg jumping jacks x 40



Two times through should leave you tired. If you're in great shape, challenge yourself. Do three, four, or even more rounds if you possess exceptional fitness.


Never Be Limited By Equipment

If you're limited in the amount of conventional equipment found in most gyms, don’t fret. Having a lack of training devices should not preclude you from obtaining a productive workout. Whatever unconventional devices you have at home or work, be creative and use them to work hard. Doing something is better than doing nothing. Possessing minimal equipment should not be an excuse.


Remember: to cause your body to change morphologically, your muscular and cardiovascular systems must be challenged. That is, challenge your muscles and elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time to create a visible fat-to-muscle ratio change.


Though the results you achieve are highly dependent on inherent genetics (your height, weight, skeletal system leverage, muscle tendon origin/insertion points, muscle belly size, and muscle fiber type), the simple truth is no matter what you have to work with, as long as you exude a high level of physical effort, you can make gains even when conventional equipment is lacking. 


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Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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