Being stuck at home for weeks on end is enough to make anyone go a little stir-crazy. But for the fitness buffs? Not being able to get in your regular workouts can lead to all sorts of debilitating side effects—like sleepless nights and mismanaged stress, just for starters.
As someone who has spent the past two weeks using a broken elliptical machine as a last-ditch effort at maintaining some sort of exercise regimen, I know the feeling. But it turns out we don’t have to give up our workout routines entirely while stuck in quarantine. In fact, you can break a sweat right inside your home—using things you already have lying around the house.
Check out these creative home fitness hacks from the experts. Happy sweating!
1. Fill up a backpack for weight resistance training
Remember that backpack you used to wear in the good ol’ days of carefree weekend trips? Well it’s time to dust it off and put it to work again. Nutritionist and online personal trainer Kia Khadem recommends filling up your old pack with books, stockpiled cans of food, or even water bottles to get some weight resistance going.
“Once it’s filled, you can use it for squats, overhead presses, or even rows,” he says.
You don’t even have to be that structured about it. You can also load that baby up and wear it around the house.
“Maximize what you’re already doing,” says personal trainer Grady Bridges. “You can increase your calorie burn throughout the day just by wearing a weighted backpack while cleaning or cooking.”
In fact, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities, you can more than double your calorific output while walking around carrying 15 pounds of weight, Bridges says.
2. Use your couch for squats, step-ups, and more
It turns out, your couch is good for more than just Netflix marathons. In fact, your couch can be used for myriad easy home workouts. (No, we don’t just mean passing the snacks.)
“The couch can be used for triceps dips, elevated pushups, split squats, and even step-ups,” says running coach and personal trainer Meredith O’Brien.
“Couches, or even tables, can also be used for rows and hip thrusts,” Khadem adds.
Also, we’re pretty sure the fitness police won’t mind if you get these reps going during your next TV binge session.
3. Bring out the bath towels for planks
Towels are a fitness must-have—and not just for dabbing your glistening forehead midworkout.
“On a tile or laminate floor towels can slide, which opens up a wide variety of possibilities,” says O’Brien.
In particular, O’Brien favors windshield wiper planks: From a standard plank position place a towel under each foot and alternate sliding each foot toward the shoulder, while the other leg stays straight. This will strengthen your core and hips, she says.
Another great exercise you can do with towels is the hamstring slide.
“Beginning in a glute bridge, slowly slide your feet away from your body until you are flat on the ground,” O’Brien says. “This is a great way to get the hamstrings fired up and make them stronger.”
4. Grab a gallon of water for strength and conditioning
Just like all those stockpiled cans of soup, you can put your gallon water bottles to work in more ways than one while quarantining at home.
“When sheltering in place happened so quickly many of my clients didn’t have time to pick up workout equipment,” says personal trainer Jonathan Jordan. “So we’ve been using gallon jugs or detergent bottles. Sounds odd, but you can get a total body workout.”
Check out Jordan’s free demo videos to get your shelter-at-home workout started.
5. Involve your partner or roommate
On the off-chance that you and your family members are looking for yet another activity to do together during this incredibly cozy time of self-quarantine, we’ve got just the thing.
“The other thing that you can use to make your workout more fun is a partner,” says running coach Andrew Lee. “If you have a spouse or children, you can incorporate them into your workout. For example, having someone sit on your back while you do pushups.”
Another one of Lee’s workout suggestions? Weighted squats with your spouse. And hey, it might not be for everybody—but it still beats a broken elliptical machine.