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Homemade Hand Weights

You can shell out a lot of money for a set of hand weights to use for toning routines at home, but you don't have to. All you need to do is get creative with items you probably already have in your home. From a soup can to a hefty jug of laundry detergent, you can make hand weights in a variety of sizes to challenge your muscles without challenging your wallet.

In Your Cupboard

Cans of vegetables or beans make perfect small hand weights. They are easy to grip and weigh nearly a pound. Use them for activities like front arm raises which are challenging with very little weight. It costs nothing to use them as weights before opening them for dinner.

Make heavier weights with packages of dried beans or peas. Put two 1-pound bags of beans in two socks to make two 2-pound weights. Fill the socks and tie the tops tightly. Use them as hand weights for upper-body exercises. When you no longer need the weights, you can empty the beans into a pan of boiling water and make soup.

Read more: The 20 Best Body-Weight Exercises

In the Fridge

Half-gallon plastic milk or juice jugs make handy 4-pound weights. The handles on the milk jugs make them easy to hold while exercising your arms and shoulders. You can pull full jugs right out of the refrigerator to lift while you're waiting for water to boil, or you can fill empty jugs with water.

Fruit can also be used to make hand weights. Those net bags of oranges and apples you can find at the store are just right for 3- to 5-pound weights. Then you'll have a healthy snack to eat when your workout is done.

In the Laundry Room

The laundry room is chock full of useful items to use as weights. Gallon or half-gallon detergent bottles with handles make 8-pound or 4-pound weights, respectively. Bottles of cleaning solution, as long as they are securely sealed, also make good hand weights. Save these jugs when they are empty to fill with water for future use.

Empty paint cans can be filled with sand or even cement. You can then wrap the handles with an old T-shirt and tape for a padded grip.

Around the House

You could put spare change in the bank, or you could use it to build stronger muscles. Divide your jar of coins equally between two socks to use as hand weights.

Stack paperback books in paper grocery bags. Hold the handles and do biceps curls, front or side arm raises, rows or shoulder presses.

Look around your house for other heavy items, such as bookends, stools, heavy candlesticks or other non-breakable objects with a little heft to them. If nothing else, you can grab an object while you're on the phone and do a quick set or two of biceps curls.

Read more: A List of Workout Sessions to Do at Home

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Things Needed

  • 2 15-oz. cans of vegetables
  • 2 1-lb. bags of beans or dried peas
  • 2 cotton socks
  • 2 lbs. or more of coins from your coin jar
  • 2 lbs. or more of fishing weights
  • 2 1/2-gallon plastic milk jugs
  • 2 thick paperback books
  • 2 light scarves
  • 2 1-lb bags of decorative stones or glass beads
  • 2 lbs. of smooth stones from your garden
  • 2 heavy candlesticks or figurines
  • 4 plastic grocery bags
  • 2 or more pounds of fruit such as oranges

About the Author

Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.

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