The ultimate not-boring household item home workout

An eight-step, no-weight weight circuit for fitness in isolation.

Credit: Jeremy Martin

An eight-step, no-weights weight circuit for fitness in isolation

Jeremy and Tara Martin, co-owners of Vancouver-based gym Loaded Athletics, have come up with a home workout that puts other routines to shame: not only will this circuit keep you fit, it will also remind you when youre running low on laundry detergent. And wine.

For best results, perform this workout two to four times, resting one or two minutes between each round. The Martins encourage you to share your sweat sesh online and tag @LoadedAthletics. But first, a warmup.

“Before we start lifting, we have to make sure the body is nice and warm,” Jeremy says. “Most of us are sitting a lot more than we are used to, and that can cause problems when we start to exercise.” The Martins suggest jogging, skipping in place, jumping jacks or squatting to a chair and standing back up repeatedly.

Next, warm up your joints by drawing five to 10 circles (in both directions) with your wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips and ankles. Finally, perform the classic calisthenic movement: reach for your toes (protect your back by bending your knees ever so slightly), then stand up and reach your hands high up overhead. Repeat this movement 10 to 20 times, and you’re ready to lift.

What you’ll need

  • a detergent bottle
  • a large book
  • a wine bottle
  • a small towel
  • a pillow

1. Detergent swing

The exercise: This is a dynamic, full-body movement that specifically strengthens the hips, back and core. Start standing tall, holding the handle of a laundry detergent bottle with both hands. Sit your hips back toward the wall behind you, keeping your back flat with only a slight bend in your knees. Snap back to a tall standing position by squeezing your butt and driving your head and shoulders up towards the ceiling. The momentum of this movement will cause the bottle to swing out in front of you. Use your arms to control that swing, and keep the bottle from rising above your shoulders. Repeat the movement as the bottle swings back down. This can also be done holding the bottle in one hand, alternating sides.
Reps: 10-20

2. Wine bottle cross-body raise

The exercise: From a half-kneeling stance (picture a classic down on one knee proposal), hold a large (hopefully full) wine bottle in both hands. If your left knee is down, start with the bottle in front of your left hip. In one smooth motion, raise the bottle overhead across your body, finishing with your arms raised over your right shoulder. This movement works the shoulders but also challenges the core to keep the torso stable while moving a weight across the body.
Reps: 8-15 reps per side

3. Towel leg curl

The exercise: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet pulled in toward your butt. For this movement, your feet will be on top of a dish towel or small face towel. Push your hips up toward the ceiling, then slowly slide your feet away from your body, trying to straighten your legs. Only go as far as you can while keeping your hips off the ground. Once youve reached your end range, pull your feet back toward your body. If pulling the feet back in is too difficult, drop the hips to the floor before pulling the feet back in. This movement works the hamstrings and glute muscles.
Reps: 5-10

4. Book chest press

The exercise: Find a large hardcover book, such as a cookbook or an encyclopedia. Hold the book between your hands, with one hand on the front cover and one hand on the back cover. Squeeze as hard as you can, as though youre trying to flatten the book with your hands. Start to slowly reach the book away from your body, trying to straighten your arms while keeping that hard squeeze. Keep the book at shoulder height throughout the movement and try and maintain a slow, controlled pace. This movement works the chest, shoulders and upper back.
Reps: 10-15

5. Elevated split squat

The exercise: Take the same hardcover book and place it flat on the floor. Put one foot on top of the book and move the other foot behind you into a split stance. Drop straight down into a split squat, focusing on pushing through the front foot. After the prescribed reps, keep the same foot on the book and step the other book forward until youre back into a split stance again. Perform a second time, this time with the back foot elevated on the book. This is a great movement to challenge the legs, especially the quad muscles.
Reps: 5-10 reps of each movement, per side

6. Isometric towel row

The exercise: Step on one end of a small towel. Grab the other end in one hand and pull. Make sure the towel is secure enough that it wont slip out from underneath your foot. Make sure your back is flat, and hold in a position where you can continue to pull on the towel for the prescribed time. Keep your elbow in, and focus on maintaining a hard pull for the entire set. This movement challenges the biceps, forearms and the back muscles.
Reps: 10-15 second hold per side

7. Pillow pass plank

The exercise: This is a great core exercise, and it just requires a small pillow. Start in a pushup position with the pillow by one of your hands. Push the pillow towards your foot on the opposite side then use that foot to push the pillow up to the hand on that same side. The goal throughout this movement is to limit shifting and tilting through the hips and torso. This will challenge your shoulders, hips and core—and maybe your brain a little bit, too!
Reps: 5-10

8. Pillow slam

This is a crowd favourite with our Zoom classes. Take a pillow, stand up tall and raise it high up over your head. In one smooth, fast motion, slam that pillow down to the floor. This is a great chance to take out any daily frustrations in a healthy way. Make sure you dont round your back as you slam the pillow down, and remember to let go before it hits the floor. Get after it with this one, but use a pillow that wont spit feathers all over the place!
Reps: 10-20

For more of Jeremy and Taras fitness tips, check out—theyre offering virtual personal training sessions and online individual programming during COVID-19.