What To Use As Weights At Home (The Small Things Make All The Difference)

Last Updated on October 18, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer

Not everyone has the luxury of owning a professional home gym, while others may be too busy to incorporate a gym membership into their lifestyle.

What To Use As Weights At Home (The Small Things Make All The Difference)

This doesn’t mean that you have to forego exercise and workouts altogether, however, as you can develop your own home gym without the overwhelming cost.

Utilizing various household items is a great place to start as you can incorporate both light and heavy objects into your weight collection and use them during your workout.

Forget spending hundreds of dollars on dumbbells, benches, or weight racks, as you will see that your home gym already exists. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look (and maybe a little duct tape)!

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through various household items that you use as weights that will help you to build muscle definition with ease.

Whether you are planning to eventually save up for professional equipment or are starting out in your exercise journey, you’ll be able to set up your own weight system with ease.

With a little creativity and duct tape, you will be surprised by your ability to make dumbbells!

Household Items That Can Be Used As Weights

Household Items That Can Be Used As Weights

Without further ado, here are the best household items that you can use as weights which will allow you to gain strength and define your muscles in no time.

Keep in mind, if you own ankle weights, these can be incorporated into all of the below exercises.

Bags Of Coffee

Bag of coffee

The first suggestion is to use bags of coffee. What makes bags of coffee such a great choice is that they are larger and softer than cans, so they are ideal for those who struggle to grip weights while also wanting to challenge themselves.

Another advantage that comes with using bags of coffee is that there are different bag sizes, so whether you are a beginner or someone who wants a large weight to work with, you’ll be able to use a bag of coffee.

It probably goes without saying, but making sure that the bag is closed before you start your workout will prevent any annoying spillage from happening.

Bags Of Grains Or Rice

Bags of rice.

The second option you have is to use bags of grains of rice. Similar to the benefits of bags of coffee, you can choose the perfect size depending on your ability and level of fitness and they are also very easy to grip.

You can also mix and match the bags to customize your workout, so you can ensure that you are comfortable while working out but still challenging your muscles.

When using bags of grains or rice as weights, make sure that you grip the bags via the middle and if you are using a large bag, make sure you are holding it with both hands to avoid injury.

Cans Of Food

Cans of food.

The third recommendation, and the most popular option, is using cans of food. There are so many options available. You can use cans of beans, soup, tomatoes, or many other cans, and frankly, they are the best substitutes for dumbbells.

What is great is that you can pick the weight that you want to work with as canned food is available in all sizes. Smaller cans can weigh between 14.5 and 16 ounces, which is equivalent to a pound, while heavier cans can weigh up to 28 ounces, which is 1.75 pounds.

If you find it hard to grip the can, you can wrap a few rubber bands in the middle to prevent your hand from slipping and causing spillage or injury.

To increase weight, you can duct tape several cans together to make the exercises more difficult. Or, if you have paint cans, these can be used as well.

Cast-Iron Skillets

Cast iron skillets.

Cast-iron skillets may seem like an unconventional choice, but for those who want a heavy weight to work with, they are a great option.

Weighing approximately eight to ten pounds, cast-iron skillets are easy to grip and great for keen exercise enthusiasts to work with.

Bear in mind that due to the heavier weight, you will need to make sure that you are gripping the skillet with both hands.

Condiment Bottles

Condiment bottles.

Condiment bottles are a great choice for those who want a heavier weight as ketchup bottles are approximately 16 ounces, making them ideal for those starting out in their weightlifting journey.

You can also use a two-liter bottle of olive oil or something similar if you are feeling confident with your progress.

Laundry Detergent Jugs

Laundry soap jugs.

Laundry detergent containers are great for those who have extra supplies and want to know what to do with them. They can weigh around 1.5 liters which is approximately 3.3 pounds, while the handles allow them to be gripped easily.

Bear in mind that the laundry soap jugs should be completely sealed and can be filled with water once emptied to achieve the desired weight.

Milk Jugs

Milk jug.

Similar to laundry soap jugs, milk jugs are also among the heaviest household weights you can find as one gallon of milk weighs 128 ounces, which is approximately 8 pounds.

Additionally, milk jugs are found in the majority of households, so you’ll likely have one in your home.

Milk jugs can also be filled up with water once emptied if you want to modify your weight resistance. Make sure that the top is firmly tightened to avoid an embarrassing mess and spillage.

Milk jugs are a great weight to use if you are doing curls or other in-house activities and will have you feeling strong and fit in no time.

Water Bottles

Water bottles.

Lastly, another option that is great for those who want to exercise with heavy weight is water bottles. Water bottles are available in various shapes and sizes and one water bottle can weigh 16 ounces or more.

These are an ideal substitute for dumbbells!

If you exercise with bottles that have ridges, they will provide you with a better grip.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do If I Don’t Have Heavy Weights At Home?

If you don’t have any heavy weights at home, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on incorporating a regular exercise routine into your life. The great thing about household items is that you can choose items that are lighter and others that are heavier.

Lighter items include soup cans that weigh less than a pound, while heavier items such as water bottles, wine bottles, and milk jugs are great for those wanting to work with a heavier weight.

Will 2-Pound Weights Do Anything?

Woman lifting light weights.

If you are just starting out with your exercise regime or are recovering from an injury, then 2-pound weights are all you need. You can easily start with something light and small like soup cans and work yourself up to heavier items, all while building muscle in a safe manner.

Will Walking With Weights Tone Arms?

Just because you are using household items as weights doesn’t mean that you have to use them strictly in the house. You can go for walks with your household weights, which will help tone your biceps and triceps even more than if you are working out in a stationary position.

For those wanting defined arms, walking while you are moving the weights in a curl motion is a great way to do this.


There are plenty of household items that you can use as weights around the home. After all, gym equipment is extremely expensive, and some people are too busy to incorporate a gym membership into their lifestyle.

Therefore, by using the examples in this guide, along with similar items, you’ll be able to build muscle around the house without the need to purchase expensive gym equipment.

Whether you’re wanting to be frugal or are simply too busy to join a gym, creating your own home gym is right in front of your eyes and much easier than you can imagine.

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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