Working out at home may be more convenient than driving to the gym -- but you may find yourself missing those rows of dumbbells. Dumbbells can range in price from the single digits to the hundreds; duplicating the variety of weights found at the gym can be expensive. If you don’t feel like parting with your cash, common household items can be used as free weights instead.
For small weights, look no further than canned food. Soup cans normally weigh around 1 pound but there are larger cans of beans, chili or veggies that can be up to 2 pounds. Heavier cans are wider, however, making them hard to maneuver for those with small hands. Do not let the soup can's lightness fool you -- add them to your home cardio workout and you can get an aerobic and strength workout at once.
The variety in bottle sizes makes plastic jugs a great choice for free weights. If you are just beginning your journey to fitness, start with 12 fluid ounce bottles filled with water. As you get stronger, switch the water for rice, beans or gravel. Next upgrade to 20 fluid ounces, followed by 2 liter and gallon jugs. Always start with water as your filling before moving up to heavier items. It may be tempting to fill the bottle you have on hand to whatever weight you want but it is important to fill the bottle all the way so the weight is distributed evenly when lifted. If that proves too heavy, move down a bottle size.
If you are short on time and don’t want the hassle of refilling bottles, head to your laundry room and grab some liquid detergent. A typical jug is 100 fl oz -- while the weight depends on the detergent and the plastic of the jug, most are over 6 pounds. The handles on most detergent bottles are made of stronger plastic than gallon jugs of water, providing a sturdier lifting point. Avoid bottles that have buttons you push to release the detergent-- flipping these around repeatedly can lead to leaks.
Peanut Butter Containers
Americans tend to eat a lot of peanut butter, guaranteeing you can buy large amounts in one container. Typical jars range from 1 to 4 pounds when full. Unlike other plastic bottles that you have to take time to refill, peanut butter is already a great filling -- it won’t slosh around when you are lifting it, even if the container isn’t full. Try holding onto the top if your hands cannot reach around -- some of the larger containers taper in at the lid.
Kelly MacGregor holds bachelor's degrees in news-editorial journalism and ecology/evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to writing for the "Colorado Engineer Magazine," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and EdNews Parent, MacGregor's work has been picked up by the "Colorado Daily," EdNews Colorado and the "Denver Post."