Pick Up Some Free Kettlebells


Sometimes quick and easy is good, right?

(That's what I'm trying to learn about blogging, anyway. Not every post has to be a 30,000 word novella.)

But "quick and easy" (and "cheap" or "free") are very handy concepts for exercise too! No matter how thorough and elaborate your usual workout regimen is, sometimes you need a workout that (a) doesn't require a gym (b) can travel with you and (c) doesn't force you to fork over craploads of money to replicate something you already have access to somewhere else.

A few pieces of free or nearly-free workout equipment can often mean the difference between "I don't have time to workout, damnit" and "Holy crap, you can do a lot in 20 minutes if you don't have to leave the house/hotel/brewpub!" (Or wherever you like hang out). So I've got a couple of suggestions for ways to take a workout wherever you go... including some free kettlebells.

But wait, you may be wondering... when is anything ever free? And what's with the "wherever you go" bit?  Aren't kettlebells really heavy and uncomfortable to carry around and isn't that the whole point of them? And do I really want to explain the odd contents of my carry-on bag to the cranky TSA lady at the airport?


OK, so sure, there's a catch or two. They're portable because you acquire them at your destination and throw them away again.

And they're completely free only if you drink liquids in large quantities, or don't mind rooting around recycling bins and being mistaken for a homeless person. But heck, dumpster diving is exercise too, right?

The Cranky Fitness Milk Jug Kettlebell Experiment

The Lobster and I are lucky enough to have a DIY Home Gym back on the east coast. But lacking that option in San Diego, we don't generally exercise unless we schlep to the gym or go on a long walk somewhere. And some days... that doesn't happen. So, in search of a cheap kettlebell/dumbbell alternative for home use, I thought I'd try:

The Milk Jug Kettlebell!

It's Easy:

Just rinse out old contents of bottle and refill with water.



Tah Dah!





Beverage containers have handles, come in different sizes, and some have sturdy screw caps. It might be worth going with a different size or brand to get the "perfect" fake kettlebell.

But What Kinda Sucks and How to Fix It:


1. Too Light Even When Full




A gallon of water only weighs 8.35 lbs. This is not enough for many exercises, like the chest press, even if you try to get all fancy and add instability.

Upgrades can be made by buying larger water jugs, and/or by buying a bag of sand at the hardware store to use as filling instead of water. A two gallon container of sand (depending on grain) could weigh a respectable amount.  Because sand weight is so variable, I couldn't get a good figure, but 12.5lb a gallon was one estimate.

However, there are plenty of moves that are challenging even at low weights, so you may want to modify your routine accordingly.

Just ignore Crabby's bent wrist, she is so NOT an expert on form.

2. Top May Not Be Secure Enough for Wild Flinging

Even with a screw cap, I noticed a little leakage when I started to hoisting with too much exuberance. I'm thinking duct tape or glue, and if that doesn't work, upgrading to a more durable container that actually costs money, like a gas can kettlebell.

Milk Jug Workout?

Though in my own mind I "invented" the milk jug kettlebell idea in a sudden flash of dairy-fueled inspiration, I suspected others might have done the same.

A quick google confirmed this and even yielded a milk jug workout.

Kettlebell workouts:

There are also tons of these if you google. A beefcake version can be found over at Men's Fitness; cheesecake version at Women's Health. And there's even a traveling kettlebell workout over at Girya Girl.

Other Cheap Portable Exercise Solutions:

There is a whole previous post on Cheap Do it Yourself home fitness equipment back in the archives, but to repeat a few obvious suggestions:

Body weight exercises are free and portable, hooray! College Candy has some suggestions, and there are a bunch of no equipment exercises at the Ace Exercise Library.  Other cheap/free options include jump ropes, elastic cords, stretchy bands, and DVD's from the bargain bin or the library. Oh, and there's always the Crabitron for dips!

Suspension trainers can be made on the cheap too, like this DIY suspension trainer. But note... I was thinking there might even be a simpler way using a necktie or bathrobe belt, but when I started to google... whoops! Apparently the bondage folks got there first. (On the plus side, they seem to be Eagle Scouts when it comes to knowing their ropes).


Anyone else experimented with DIY fitness equipment?

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