When you don’t have access to free weights or fancy weight equipment at a gym, what can you use to still stretch and strengthen your body?
With a little imagination and creativity, you can create a home gym using common household items to maintain a fitness program from your home after an illness, injury, or surgery that has caused a loss of functional mobility.
Before performing any of the moves, always check with your doctor or physical therapist to make sure they approve:
Anyone with rheumatoid arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome can develop weakness in their wrist or hands. It is important to maintain normal handgrip function to keep the muscles around your wrists and fingers strong.
Home Gym Solution: Roll up a hand towel until it is about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Grip the towel lightly and hold your grip for 3 seconds. Slowly release your grip.
Repeat the same exercise with the other hand for a total of 10 to 15 repetitions.
Another common household item for strengthening the wrist is a hammer which will simulate holding a free weight.
Home Gym Solution: Hold a hammer in one hand while your forearm is resting on a table. Using a slow, deliberate move, roll your hand over so your palm is facing down and then return to the starting position.
Then, roll your hand over the other way so your palm is facing up. To vary the amount of resistance, hold the hammer closer or further from the end of the tool; holding the end of the hammer’s handle increases the difficulty of the exercise while holding the hammer closer to the head makes it easier.
Perform this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.
For shoulder pain, rotator cuff tendonitis, or frozen shoulder, working on your shoulder’s range of motion is a must.
Home Gym Solution: Hold a long towel in one hand over your shoulder, allowing it to drape behind your back. Reach behind your back with your other hand and grip the towel. Gently pull the towel up to your back until a stretch is felt in your shoulder.
Hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat it for 10 repetitions.
Using soup cans (or bottled water, cans of beans, or soda cans) can be very useful for anyone with arthritis or when recovering from an injury. They are lightweight enough to not pose a risk for injury yet provide just enough resistance to help increase strength.
Home Gym Solution: Here is a link to several exercises that focus on strengthening the arms, back, legs, and shoulders that can be of benefit in recovery or simply maintaining fitness.
Knee pain can be improved by strengthening the quadriceps muscles around your knee. These muscles are what cross the knee joint and help in straightening your knees. Anyone who has had a knee injury or surgery needs to restore normal function to these muscles to be able to return to normal activity.
Home Gym Solution: A type of exercise that physical therapists recommend for knee strength is called the short arc quad exercise. It requires a “bolster” or something such as a basketball or volleyball that can fit under a knee while you are lying on your back.
The exercise is performed by straightening the knee as far as possible and then tightening your quadriceps muscle on the top of your thigh. Hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly lower your leg.
Having a staircase in your home will be one of your best built-in exercise equipment around. Climbing a flight of stairs is a perfect cardiovascular workout, great circulation, and developing strong and shapely thighs and behind.
Home Gym Solution: Each day, have a set number of times to walk or hike up and down your staircase. For a great calf exercise, stand on a stair so your heels are hanging off the back of the step. Use the rail to balance yourself as you stand onto your tiptoes. Lower your heel down and then repeat.
Pick a wall, any wall. A wall can be used to get yourself in better shape, especially when targeting the buttocks, thighs, and hamstrings.
Home Gym Solution: Stand with your upper back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Sit down into a squat with your upper back still touching the wall. Lower so your legs are at a 90-degree angle and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
This is called a wall sit and is one of the best ways to tone your legs and core simultaneously.
Besides being used for cooking, your kitchen can be temporarily turned into a home gym. And one of the best pieces of equipment literally at your fingertips is your kitchen counter
Home Gym Solution: One very effective exercise move for shapely calves is to do calf raises. Achieve this by standing in front of your kitchen counter, placing your hands on the counter edge, keeping your feet about hip widths apart, and then pushing off the balls of your feet, going up and down several times.
Squeeze in a few push-ups while you’re waiting for food to cook by placing your hands on the counter edge, step back by about 2-3 feet from the counter, then bend your elbows to lower your chest to the counter’s edge, then push back to start.
Do this several times also to strengthen the arm, chest, core, and back muscles.