Upper Extremity Strengthening Using Household Items

by Elizabeth McCarthy, LPTA

If you are wanting to get back in shape and strengthen your arms but do not feel comfortable returning to your local gym yet, there are plenty of household items you can use to achieve your goal. Simple items around your home that you may never have thought twice about can easily be used to improve arm strength, stability, and mobility!

Let’s Get Pumped-UP!

Weighted items you can use around your home (with each item you will find an example of exercises you can do with each). We suggest starting with 2 sets of 10.

  • 1 gallon milk jug (a full gallon typically weighs around 8.5 pounds)

  • Laundry detergent bottle


  • Any canned goods/soup cans

  • Broom or mop

  • Water bottles

  • Backpack full of books

  • Flour/rice/sugar bag
  • Bike air pump
  • Towels

Disclaimer: Weights vary for each of these items. If you cannot lift any of these items without causing injury or pain, or have a condition that limits you from completing these exercises, you should seek medical advice from a professional, such as a physical therapist.