Free & Easy Ways to Get Killer Workouts at Home

gym secrets
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Between outrageous gym membership fees and even more outrageous gym passport memberships, even the best of intentions to get your swole on can be expensive AF.

But there's good news: You probably have a bunch of gym equipment in your house right now, without even realizing it. To help you save money, personal trainers shared some hacks to help you use what's already in your home to get a kick-ass workout.

Bath towels

First, you need to warm up. Grab a towel for a deep shoulder stretch, suggests Whitney Owens, a certified yoga instructor at TruFusion fitness center.

Owens suggests positioning your hands a little wider than shoulder-length apart and taking hold of a towel. Then, stretch your hands up and over your head, rotating your wrists as you go for a full extension of your rotator cuff. For a side stretch, hold the towel up overhead and engage your abs while bending to each side.

The wall

As long as you don't live in a converted two-bedroom (um, so, anyone outside of NYC), you can work your lower body and core by leveraging the walls of your home. Liz Hilliard, owner and creator of Hilliard Studio Method, recommends doing wall sits by leaning your back against a stable wall and sliding down until your knees are bent at 90 degrees and directly in line over your ankles.

"Once you feel you are sitting in an invisible chair, you can hold stillness for 30 seconds at a time," Hilliard says. "Add some challenging flair by lifting one leg off the floor, extending it, and holding it for 10 seconds."

Canned food

Pick your poison: soup, beans, or cranberry sauce. Whatever you choose, Hilliard says to make sure you pick two cans of the same weight and size, which you can then use to strengthen and sculpt your shoulders.

Hilliard recommends using said cans as dumbbells during shoulder shrugs, calf raises, biceps curls, and other more complicated sequences. For example, form a "T" position with your body (heels together and lifted off the floor; arms outstretched on either side holding said cans) and either pulse for 10 reps, or hold that position for 10 seconds.

Dish towels

Tracy Carlinsky of Brooklyn Bodyburn recommends using a standard dishtowel under your feet to make your core exercises more challenging. Perfect for slidable surfaces -- wood floors or a tiled kitchen -- these pseudo gliders can help take knee tucks, mountain climbers, plank jacks, and lunges to the next level for more sculpted and toned abs.

Paper plates

If you're looking to work out on a carpeted surface, paper plates can be used as gliders, too. Hilliard recommends upping your plank game with pike plank push-ups.

"From a plank position, walk your hands out wider than your shoulders," Hilliard says. "Draw your hips up to the ceiling to a pike position by pulling in your deep abdominal muscles. Return back to plank position by pushing the gliders away from you [back to your original position]. Hold the legs still and perform one push-up to complete a full repetition. Then repeat 10 times."

Water jug

A water jug can easily replace a dumbbell, providing an infinite number of exercises, says Adrian Williams, a coach at Tone House. Williams suggests starting with biceps curls, triceps kickbacks, overhead presses, and Russian twists.


Taylor Walker Sinning, a barre instructor and creator of Taylor Walker Fit, recommends using a broom as a "mobility bar."

"Start out with a broom in front of your hips, with your hands gripped just outside of your shoulders," Sinning says. "Lift the shoulders and bring the broom straight up overhead and back as far as you can. Rotate back and forth; increasing your range of motion every time. Focus on keeping your arms straight. If needed, increase the width of your grip."

Up the intensity with squat presses: "Start with the broom behind you, resting on your shoulders, and a forward-facing grip," Sinning says. "With the feet hip-width apart, squat and press the bar all the way up. Make sure to keep your head up, chest lifted, and weight in the heels. Then, extend the legs and bring the bar back to the starting position."


You know that thing you sit on for hours upon hours, devouring your latest Netflix obsession and stuffing your face? Yeah, you could be using it as an exercise tool instead. Williams recommends using your couch or sofa for squats (squat as far down as your rear lightly touches the seat), and assisted dips and push-ups.

The floor

Whether you have tiled floors or just some duct tape (if you don't, get some!), Alyssa Tracy, a yoga instructor at TruFusion Eastern, recommends selecting a tiled square or making a 16" to 18" square out of duct tape on your floor and using it as a marker for jump squats, single-leg hops, burpees (jump at the top with the intention of landing in the square), or skaters (start with your feet inside the box or tile, and return to that spot in between reps).

Tennis ball

This one may make your roommates raise their eyebrows, but you won't care given what your abs will look like later on. Tracy recommends channeling your inner dog: Get in a plank position, and push a tennis ball on the ground away from you. "Chase" it around your floor without compromising your plank form. You'll work your core, and build serious balance.

Duffel bag

Want to pretend you're packing for a trip and get a workout in at the same time? Jessica Bailey, a trainer at YG Studios, recommends filling a bag with things from around your house (as heavy as you'd like) and performing biceps curls and shoulder presses, or hold the bag at your chest and perform squats and reverse lunges.

Bleach or laundry detergent bottle

The next time you're getting ready to do a load of laundry, Bailey suggests using bleach and/or laundry detergent bottles to perform wood chops.

"With your feet planted hip-width apart, bring the bottle to your left hip and raise it diagonally with straight arms to left ear, just like you are chopping wood," Bailey says. "Perform 10 reps on each side."

Now you literally have no excuses not to work out. You're welcome!

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Erin Kelly is a writer, runner, and triathlete living in New York City. Her favorite at-home workout is lifting food into her mouth. Follow her on Twitter @erinkellysays.