When you work out at home, having the right equipment can make all the difference.
You don’t need to deck out your pad with a bunch of heavy-duty benches, dumbbells, and weight racks — but having some weights on hand is pretty useful.
Here are nine ideas for homemade weights that’ll help you strength train with things you probably already have lying around your house.
1. Water Bottles
Whether you’re at home or in a hotel or Airbnb, 16-ounce water bottles are an easy-to-find swap for dumbbells.
The plastic ones are a convenient one-pound weight, so grab a pair for your next barre workout, where one pound goes a long way. Just wait until you’re done working out to drink them!
Tip: The bottles with ridges provide a better grip.
2. Cans of Food
Cans of beans, tomatoes, and soup are solid swap-ins when you don’t have dumbbells on hand. The weight is printed on the front, so you can easily choose the appropriate heft for your workout.
Most soup cans are 14.5 to 16 ounces (about a pound), while larger cans weigh 28 ounces (1.75 pounds).
Adding a couple of rubber bands around the middle will provide more grip and keep your hands from slipping.
3. Rolls of Quarters
If your living situation requires quarters for laundry, just know that those quarters can also function as homemade weights.
A $10 roll of quarters weighs about eight ounces, so two rolls equal one pound. If you like, use a rubber band to secure multiple rolls together.
Opt for quarters in plastic instead of paper, which won’t last as well through a sweaty workout.
4. Bags of Coffee
Bags of coffee are probably the best-smelling weights you can use, and since they are bigger and softer than cans, they’re good for people who have trouble gripping hard weights.
Make sure the bags are closed securely before you begin, so you don’t risk spilling the precious contents.
5. Condiment Bottles
A 16-ounce ketchup bottle makes a perfect one-pound homemade weight, and bulk containers from the pantry can stand in when you need a heavier option.
A two-liter bottle of olive oil weighs about four pounds.
6. Bags of Rice or Grains
Bags of rice or grains are great to use in place of weights — they’re easy to grip and come in a variety of sizes.
It’s easiest to grip smaller bags around the middle. Use larger ones as a single weight by holding them with both hands.
7. Milk Containers
A gallon of milk weighs about 8.6 pounds, a half-gallon is about 4.3 pounds, and a quart is a little more than two pounds (yay math!).
You likely have milk containers in your fridge (plant-based or dairy will work), but only use them for weights when they’re full and sealed — so you don’t risk spilling.
Another thing to keep in mind if you opt for this homemade weight: You probably want to save these for shorter workouts in climate-controlled spaces so your milk doesn’t get too warm.
Meaning, this idea works for a quick set of curls, but… is not the best option for an HIIT session in the backyard on a hot day.
8. Jugs of Laundry Soap
If you’re someone who always has extra supplies on hand, this hack is for you: Grab a jug or two of laundry soap and start lifting.
Bottles that are 1.5 liters weigh about 3.75 pounds, and those with a handle make for easy gripping.
Just make sure they are completely full and sealed — this way, they’ll be at their max weight, and you aren’t likely to spill anything.
9. Cast-Iron Skillets
This one might look a little funny, but a 12.5-inch cast-iron skillet weighs about eight pounds, and larger ones can weigh up to 10 pounds.
So these hefty pans are actually pretty great homemade weights for exercises like goblet squats.
Since the size of a cast-iron skillet makes it hard to hold safely in one hand, be sure to grip it tightly with both hands.