In an ideal world, everyone would have access to a real gym with quality fitness equipment and plenty of time to use it. But the world isn’t ideal.
From tiny apartments to budgetary restraints, many people’s workout routines are dictated by whenever they can fit them in and whatever they have around to get the job done. (And that’s when you’re not stuck in the house due to a global pandemic.)
The good news is most of us have more fitness equipment around than we realize. By knowing how to use your home furnishings in creative ways, you can increase the intensity of your home workouts and even perform some moves you thought you could only do at the gym.
Replacement For: Weight Bench
Though it may be your favorite place to relax, your sofa is more than just a spot for binge-watching and snacking. It’s also a long, relatively flat surface that can be used for multiple things done on weight bench, including dips, free weights, and elevated push-ups.
Dips work your upper back and upper arms, but mostly focus on your triceps. If you want to get rid of underarm flab and have better toned arms, dips are the exercise for you.
To do a dip:
- Stand in front of your couching, facing away from it.
- Grasp the front of your couch shoulder-width apart with your fingers curved around its edge.
- Keep your arms straight and walk forward until your legs are fully extended.
- Bend your arms to lower yourself toward the floor, stopping when your arms are at a 90 angle.
- Push back up until your arms are straight again.
If your couch cushions are too soft, and you feel unstable, try removing the cushions and putting your hands on the edge of the frame.
Many people do dips on dining room and kitchen chairs because they are firmer. But they’re also lighter weight and more prone to tipping. Generally speaking, your couch is the sturdiest option for doing dips at home.
The great thing about free weights is they can be used just about anywhere. That includes from the comfort of your couch. Any exercise you can do lying or sitting on a weight bench – concentration curls, dumbbell rows, even a bench press if your couch is wide enough – you can do on your sofa.
Just keep in mind that a weight bench provides good support for weightlifting, so the world’s cushiest couch may not be ideal for this. Don’t worry, there’s an alternative listed below.
One simple at-home exercise that benefits from a couch is push-ups. Elevated push-ups (putting your legs up on something so they’re higher than your arms) requires more upper body strength.
It’s a great way to intensify your workout and build more muscle if you can already do a bunch of push-ups in a row without wearing out.
To do an elevated push-up, simply put your feet up on your couch and perform a push-up as normal, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart and maintaining proper form.
Replacement For: Weight Bench
This is a weight bench alternative I discovered out of pure necessity when I tore up my shoulder and had a regimen of physical therapy I had to do at home.
If you have two or more footstools of the same size, they add up to one fine weight bench. Simply place them end to end and lie along them.
Just make sure they have a high enough weight limit to support you and the extra weight you’ll be lifting.
The footstool option is a great option for bench presses and flies, because they provide your arms more freedom of movement.
Item: Step Stool
Replacement For: Stairclimber/Stepper/Aerobic Step
Step-Ups – the exercise of stepping onto a higher surface and back down again – are a great at-home alternative to using a stairclimber, a stepper or taking an aerobic step class.
To do a step-up:
- Square up with the step stool.
- Step up onto the stool with one foot.
- Bring your other foot up onto the stool next to your first foot.
- Step one foot back down to the floor.
- Bring your other foot back down to the floor beside it.
- Alternate which foot you use to step up with each repetition.
Item: Dining Room or Kitchen Chair
Replacement For: Weight Bench/Stairclimber/Stepper/Aerobic Step
Any weightlifting exercise you can do sitting on a weight bench you can do sitting on a firm chair.
You can also use a chair like a step stool for step-ups. You just have to use more caution. If you do use a chair for step-ups, make sure you step to the center of the seat. Putting too much weight on any edge can easily cause a chair to tip.
A chair is also a great item to use for stretches –
And can aid in your ab routine –
Replacement For: Pretty Much Anything You Can Find at a Gym
The best thing about a home workout routine free of dedicated fitness equipment is that it lets you get back to the basics. Bodyweight exercises, calisthenics and yoga/pilates are some of the most effective exercises you can do.
You are also less likely to get injured while doing them than while working out with equipment.
Calisthenics and bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, dips, leg lifts and squats, burn fat and tone muscles. Running or stepping in place, doing jumping jacks, or hula hooping (you don’t actually need the hoop!) burns calories and provides cardio benefits.
Body weight exercises are just as good as machine exercises at helping you maintain your weight and keeping you healthy. These exercises are a simple means of working out anywhere anytime, and adding a couch or chair to the mix makes your home workout all the more effective.