Now that we’re in the midst of COVID-19 self-isolation and physical (or social) distancing, it’s perhaps more important than ever to keep up with an exercise routine.

But how do you break a sweat when the gyms, parks, and hiking trails are closed? By getting creative!

Using low-cost equipment together with common household items you already own, you can build a whole-body workout program that’s full of variety.

Items featured here are fairly cost effective, but you may be able to find them for even cheaper at online or discounted retailers. So you’ll be all set with a great home gym — even when the pandemic has passed.

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Have textbooks or coffee table books around the house collecting dust? Now you can use them to enrich your body as well as your mind!

Textbook pushups

Nick Occhipinti, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and certified personal trainer (CPT), recommends placing two textbooks on the floor about 1–2 feet apart.

Place one hand on each textbook and push up.

Having your hands elevated 2–4 inches off the floor will allow you to descend deeper into a pushup, making this simple at-home exercise staple more difficult and more effective.

“This workout will challenge your pectorals, anterior deltoids, and triceps effectively,” says Occhipinti.

Textbook reverse lunges

Stand on a textbook that’s about 2–3 inches thick and step back into a deep lunge.

The extra height under your front foot makes the lunge go deeper than normal for this challenging variant of a lower body must-do exercise, says Occhipinti.

This lunge variation hits the quads while challenging lower body stability.

These firm, yet comfortably supportive rollers are great for doing basic postural exercises to advanced core stabilization techniques, says Heather Jeffcoat, physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor.

Traditional crunches

  1. Lay lengthwise on the roller so that you’re supported from head to tailbone.
  2. Clasp your hands behind your head (but don’t pull on your neck).
  3. Inhale to prepare, then exhale as you lift your upper body and crunch up. Inhale, lower, and repeat.

Increase the height of the crunch gradually over time, but remember to keep the bottom of your ribs in contact with the foam roller, says Jeffcoat.

Buy a foam roller online.

The beauty of a laundry detergent bottle is that you can add water to increase resistance, says Alex Carneiro, certified personal trainer.

So, if one gallon is too easy, add more water to increase its weight.

Exercises using bottles of laundry detergent

Laundry Detergent Upright Rows — for shoulders: Keeping the detergent close to your body, exhale and raise it straight up to your chest level primarily with your shoulders.

Laundry Detergent Swings — for glutes and hamstrings: Lift the detergent off the ground and allow it to swing between your legs.

Your knees should bend slightly during this movement. Powerfully drive your hips forward to propel the detergent into the air. The detergent should travel no higher than your shoulders, says Carneiro.

Dumbbells are fairly inexpensive and can be used for a variety of exercises that can work the entire body, says Nicole Ferrier, online fitness coach.

These small but powerful pieces of workout equipment can be used to strengthen and tone the arms, legs, and thighs, and even flatten and tone core muscles.

Squat with dumbbells

  1. Hold the dumbbells by the chest, feet shoulder-width apart, and toes slightly turned out.
  2. Push your hips back and bend your knees while holding your chest high.

Ferrier recommends doing 3 sets of 10–15 reps. Main muscles targeted are the glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

Buy dumbbells online.

Who doesn’t love jump ropes? They’re a great workout tool and can take you back to your playground days.

They’re also great for a burst of cardio, are inexpensive, and don’t take up too much space, says Ferrier.

Double Under jump rope exercise

In a double under, the rope passes under you twice in one jump. Your wrist will need to rotate fast and you’ll need to be jumping higher than 6 inches to accomplish this, says Ferrier.

Main muscles targeted are the biceps and calves.

Buy jump ropes online.