Home Gym Equipment: Functional Over Fancy?

by Joey Pacelli, Senior Fitness Trainer, Department of Human Resources 

With more people/employees working from home and public gym restrictions, the demand and prices of home exercise equipment have gone a bit crazy. What if you could have a medicine/slam ball, weighted body-bar(s), and sandbag for under $40? With a little creativity, D.I.Y. at-home exercise equipment can be made for much less than expected. In this article, we will cover how to make these pieces of equipment and some general exercises that can be done with each item.  



The sandbag is the easiest of the three pieces to make so let us start there. For making the sandbag you will need a bag of sand (purchased at any big box home store for less than $5), two trash bags, a roll of duct tape, and a duffle bag/gym bag. To start, you need to figure out how heavy of a sandbag you would like to make and pour out sand to get your desired weight. Now with the desired weight in the sandbag, duct tape the opening to keep the remaining sand from spilling out. Next put the bag into the first of two trash bags. Duct tape that bag and then put the second trash bag over everything. Now you want to duct tape everything especially well and then put the whole thing into a duffle bag/gym bag, and you are done.   

Exercises: Deadlifts, weighted get-ups, weighted lunges, bear-hug squats, clean and press, weighted step-ups.  



Medicine Ball/Slam Ball  

This one is a little more involved and requires a bit more patience. For this, you will need a basketball ($5 new from Five Below or any discount store or use an old one), sand, funnel, razor blade, sticky tire plug x 2-3, and duct tape. To start you want to cut a small hole in the basketball (the smaller the better- this one was a little bigger than I would have liked because I couldn’t find my smaller funnel). Once you have your hole cut you just start funneling sand into the ball until you get to your desired weight (max weight is around 25 pounds based on the size of the ball). Once you have filled the ball to your desired weight you will use your sticky tire plug(s) to get a good seal around the hole. Once you have inserted 1, 2, or even 3 plugs you want to put some duct tape over the hole and plugs, this will help seal everything up.  


Pro-tips: Watch out for rocks that will clog up the end of the funnel. When you first start using the ball, it is recommended to slam the ball on a hard surface with the plugs hitting the ground first. This will smush and flatten out the plugs help to seal the hole.  


Exercises: Squats, BOMB tosses, wallball tosses, Russian twists, squat throws, clean over the shoulder, squat and press, lunge and press.  


Body Bars   

Out of the gate, these body bars can be highly variable based on your objective. Supplies needed for this are PVC (length and diameter will dictate max weight), two end caps for each bar, sand, and PVC cement, funnel (optional). Pre-cut (as pictured) PVC was used. Pictured on the left is PVC measuring 5 feet by 1.5 inches and on the right is PVC measuring five-feet by 1.0 inch. To start, use the PVC cement and cement one end cap onto the pipe and let it dry. Once the cement is dry fill the PVC with as much sand as you desire. Completely filling the 1.0-inch pipe led to a bar weighing about 8 pounds and filling the 1.5-inch pipe fully led to a bar weighing about 15 pounds. Once you fill the bar to your desired weight use the PVC cement to seal the open end.  

Variability: If you do not fill the pipe all the way up there will be left-to-right swaying of the weight of the bar which can be beneficial for making stability-based movements more challenging.  


Exercises: Overhead press, back or front squats, bent-over row, chest press, biceps curl, weighted step-ups, overhead lunges, skull crushers.  


Hopefully, these equipment ideas get the creative thoughts flowing and give you options to have exercise equipment at home for a lesser cost. We encourage you to try a few workouts as we continue to think of ideas for at-home exercise equipment to publish. If you have questions about any of these items please reach out to Joey Pacelli at [email protected].