DairyFit: At-Home Strength Training with Recycled Milk Jugs

Gym closed and no weights at home? You can upcycle your milk jugs to get a sustainable sweat session in your own living room. Almost any exercise done with dumbbells or kettlebells can use milk jugs as a replacement.

Here’s an example of a home workout focusing on all key areas: lower body, upper body, arms and abs.

Equipment Needed

  • Two to four plastic milk jugs, washed and filled with water 
    • 1 gallon is about 8 lbs. 
    • ½ gallon is about 4 lbs.
    • Or choose pints: perfect for arm weights
  • Duct tape: Tape the tops of the filled jugs in an "X" fashion to ensure they are well sealed before using

Lower Body, Upper Body and Arms
Complete three sets of 10-15 repetitions of the following.

  • Milk Goblet Squat 
    • Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width 
    • Clutch one milk jug at your chest 
    • Sit into a squat, then return to standing position and repeat
  • Bent-Over Dairy Rows 
    • In a narrow stance, bend forward from your hips and keep a soft bend in your knee
    • Stretch a milk jug in each hand diagonally towards the floor
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring the milk jugs in towards the sides of your chest 
    • Return to your starting position and repeat
    • Sarah doing a row
  • Pint-Size Triceps Kickbacks 
    • Holding a pint or quart jug in each hand, stand with knees slightly bent and lean forward from hips
    • Bend arms to 90 degrees at the elbow (your triceps should align with your back)
    • Brace your core and move your arms back, trying to straighten them, then return to 90 degrees at elbow and repeat
    • Sarah doing a tricep kickback

Complete 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest for eight rounds (four minutes each exercise) of the following.

  • Milk Jug Twist
    • Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet firm on the ground
    • Lean back to engage your abs
    • Grab your milk jug and twist left and right, tapping jug-to-floor with each twist
    • Tip: You can increase intensity by keeping your feet six inches off the floor 
    • Sarah doing an ab twist
  • Milk Jug Sit-Up 
    • Perform a normal sit-up, but hold a milk jug above your head 
    • With both hands, bring the jug to the ceiling while you sit all the way up
    • Tip: Have a partner, or an object, weigh down your feet if you need help sitting all the way up
  • Don't Spill the Milk Leg Lifts 
    • While seated on floor, place the milk jug near your ankles
    • Lean back, engage your abs and lift your legs up and over the milk jug, then tap the floor with your heel
    • Repeat the movement
    • Sarah doing a leg lift

Did You Know?

  • The American College of Sports Medicine recommends Americans get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, with at least two days of strength training. 
  • Strength training, along with nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus (all found in milk), can help keep bones healthy, assist in the maintenance of muscle mass, and help you maintain a healthier lifestyle.

So when your workout is over, don't forget to rehydrate, repair and replenish with a nice cold glass of nutritious chocolate milk. Learn more about milk’s recovery benefits.

By Marley Oldham Carnes, M.S., RDN, LD, CSCS, CPT

Marley is a Registered Dietitian, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer. She has also worked as a fitness and sports director with the Navy and her father-in-law is a retired dairy farmer. In her free time, Marley enjoys hiking, cycling, running and volunteering with the Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Learn more about Marley.

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