Work Out at Home: DIY Free Weights

You don't need pricey gym equipment to work out at home. These DIY free weights are simple to make, and you probably already have everything you need!

Working out at home has never been easier, thanks to YouTube videos and workout apps. But what about exercise equipment? You might not need as much as you think. Just a simple set of DIY free weights will have you feeling the burn from the comfort of your home. And the best part is, you don’t necessarily have to buy anything!

Here are our favorite DIY free weights using a few household items you probably already have on hand.

Make Dumbbells With Plastic Beverage Containers

Probably the easiest method for making your own DIY free weights is re-purposing plastic bottles. You can transform any empty plastic bottle into a workout weight by filling it with water — or, for more weight, sand. Here is the approximate weight you’ll get by filling these common bottles sizes:

  • One two-liter soda bottle = 4-1/2 lbs. water or 6-3/4 lbs. sand
  • One gallon milk bottle = 8-1/3 lbs. water or 12-3/4 lbs. sand
  • One 1/2 gallon milk bottle = 4-1/4 lbs. water or 6-1/3 lbs. sand

Thoroughly rinse out the bottle, then use a funnel to fill it with water or sand. To avoid leaks, glue the lid to the bottle with strong-bond glue or seal it with duct tape.

To create a barbell, some people take a galvanized steel pipe and affix a bottle to each end. We cannot vouch for the safety of this, but we applaud the ingenuity.

Transform Pantry Items Into a Kettlebell

For this DIY workout tool, it’s time to raid your pantry. Grab a plastic grocery bag and fill it with anything that has heft, like canned food and bags of rice. Pack the items in tightly to avoid shifting around. When you reach the size and weight you want (confirm with a household scale), tie the bag tightly, then place the filled bag inside another bag. The second bag can be another plastic grocery bag or a canvas bag. Tie the second bag tightly as well, ensuring the loops on the knot are big enough to grip comfortably. The result is a weighted bag that can be used as a kettlebell.

Turn Socks into Ankle Weights

Working out with ankle weights is a great way to add resistance to your favorite exercises. For DIY ankle weights, fill a pair of socks with sand. (Dry beans or rice also work but they’ll weigh less.) A 1-1/4 cup of sand weighs about one pound. After the sock is filled to your desired weight, lay it flat to level the sand. Pick up both ends to maneuver the sand into the middle and create a little excess fabric on either side. Tie off both sides of the sock with a shoelace to seal the sand inside. Then wrap the filled sock around your ankle and use the shoe laces to tie a secure bow. Repeat the process with the second sock.

Erica Young
Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.