Here Are Some Household Items You Can Use as Weights While Doing At-Home Workouts

DC trainer Errick McAdams shares his picks for making your own home gym—without buying dumbbells.

Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

Come on, admit it—some of you have tried to do squats using your cat as a weight while doing an at-home workout, haven’t you?

If you’re trying to get in a strength workout while isolating at home but you don’t have a set of dumbbells, it can be hard to figure out what to use as a replacement—especially if you don’t have a scale. How much does a stack of books weigh? A bag of dog food?

Luckily, DC trainer Errick McAdams whipped up a list of household items that can make good substitutes for weights. While the type of item and exact weight may vary (McAdams’ Le Creuset baking pan, say, may be a little heavier or lighter than your own), they’re still good general suggestions for setting up your own weight training area.

And, if you want to work out with less or more weight, you can always take the lids off objects or fill them with water, books, or magazines—whatever you have around.

The item: A half-gallon of milk
How much it weighs; About four-and-a-half pounds
How to use it: You can use a milk carton to do workouts like single-arm overhead presses, single-arm lateral raises, and single-arm front raises, all of which target your shoulders, says McAdams. You could also use it to do behind-the-head tricep extensions or squat presses, he says. Pro tip: Fill the gallon with something heavy like sand or gravel, if you have it, for more weight.

The item: A Le Creuset baking pan
How much it weighs: About 10 pounds
How to use it: You can use a baking pan for floor presses to work out your chest and triceps or just use it to do behind-the-head tricep extensions, says McAdams. Another option: an overhead military press, which targets your shoulders and triceps. Also use it while doing squat presses, two-handed front raises, or a Russian twist to target your abs.

The item: A filled, 33-ounce plastic water bottle
How much it weighs: About two pounds
How to use it: This one is perfect for an arm session. McAdams recommends using it while doing overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises, chest flies, behind-the-head tricep extensions, or tricep kickbacks (all of which can be done single-handed, unless you have two water bottles you can fill).

The item: A Le Creuset stockpot
How much it weighs: About 10 pounds empty, 15 pounds filled with water, and eight pounds without the lid
How to use it: If you want to target your legs and glutes, use the pot for sumo squats, says McAdams. If you’re working on your shoulders, you can do front raises and overhead presses while holding it. And for a tricep-chest-core workout, do tricep push-ups with your hands on the handles.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.