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Alternatives for weights (when you don't have any)

Alternatives for weights (when you don't have any)

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who finds themselves slightly at a loss when bodyweight exercises no longer produce the results that I need, but it isn't affordable to invest in regular gym memberships or various kinds of resistance equipment. I found ways to work with my situation and decided it was time to share a few alternatives for weights. I would also love to hear how others solve this dilemma!
Alternatives to weights (when you don't have any) // The PumpUp Blog

Books! I do not have a TV. But, I derive much of my self entertainment and education from books (and I have many). Sometimes I use my 20-lb. ancient dictionary while I do Russian twists, step ups, lunges, et cetera. Other times I use my two 8-lb. modern dictionaries as dumbbell alternatives. A new idea that came to my attention was to fill tote bags with books and hang them off the ends of a household broom for weighted squats, as well as other leg and booty work.

Inversions! For upper body exercises, I do vertical push ups with my feet against the wall for stability. This is a great arm and shoulder challenge for those of us who have not yet accomplished the handstand.

Alternatives to weights (when you don't have any) // The PumpUp Blog

Logs! My fiancé and I found various sized parts of trees that had been cut and I incorporated them into our routine. One of my favorites was dead lifting a particularly heavy green log. The more wet the wood, the heavier, the better!

Boxes of stuff! You can fill different sized boxes or totes with a variety of heavy objects and hold them in your arms during leg and some ab routines. You just have to see what’s possible.

Alternatives to weights (when you don't have any) // The PumpUp Blog

Pets! One of my favorite methods from social media: seeing fitspirational folks use their pets while they workout. They just pick up their dog for some squats-it just depends on what your furry friend can handle! On a side note, when I was a kid growing up on the farm, I would carry newborn calves up from the pasture to the barn every summer, about half a mile, and would do lunges on the way. Some calves were more cooperative than others: sometimes it was more of an upper body workout just to keep them on my shoulders while they were kicking and wiggling!

Slowly, you can build up your collection of real weight equipment by buying a medicine ball here, and a dumbbell there. Just as you keep improving yourself, you can improve your equipment. And have fun getting creative with your alternatives for weights! Sometimes that’s simply motivation enough to get up and do it!
This post about alternatives for weights was penned by PumpUp member @bodysoulspiritfitness, a teacher and movement artist with a passion for healthy living and adventure. Follow her blog here.

Are Chucks good for lifting?

Are Chucks good for lifting?


When you think about weightlifting shoes, Converse sneakers might be the last thing to cross your mind. Though canvas Chuck Taylor All-Stars (colloquially known as Chucks) are regarded as an emblem of creative expression with widespread and nearly iconic appeal, you'll be surprised to find that they're pretty popular among powerlifters too. The next time you're pausing between reps, scan the floor of your gym. Among the weighted plates, half-filled water bottles, and dingy towels, your little eye might spy somebody sporting a pair of Chucks. But why? For fashion? Of course! Chucks have found fans in Harry Potter and even the First Lady. However, original Converse All-Star sneakers are a decent option for resistance training.  While some people prefer to lift without shoes or splurge on more expensive lifting shoes, Chucks reasonably achieve the same purpose.

Are Chucks good for lifting? // The PumpUp Blog


Why you should consider Chucks for lifting

They aren't running shoes

Running shoes are not great for lifting gif // Are converse shoes good for lifting?
Sorry running shoes, you can't lift with us. When you perform heavier lifts, it's important to ground your feet on the floor so that you can stabilize yourself. They're your base of support, as you transmit energy through your feet to lift.  Padded running shoes absorb shock and thus, energy that could otherwise be used for your lifts. The more energy you transfer through your feet, the heavier you'll be able to lift (all while looking like a boss). With arched running shoes, you recruit other muscles to compensate for the lack of force you would be able to derive from grounding your feet on the floor. This can undermine your technique over time and increase your risk of injury.

They have flat soles

Lifting shoes // Are Chucks good for lifting? - The PumpUp Blog
Chucks have thin and flat soles that don't compress under a heavy load. Because older Chucks don't have any arch support, your feet will be in close contact with the floor and you'll be at liberty to push through your heels. You'll also train the stabilizing muscles in your feet. This will eventually help to protect your lower extremities against injury and it'll make your lifts more efficient. You'll hit depth with your squats and maintain better form as you progress.

They're comfy and affordable

Chucks are light, durable (wear them for ALL the years), and their canvas build makes them fit like a sock. If you so desire, Chucks are an ideal first-step to help you progress to barefoot lifting. While Adidas powerlifting shoes sell for roughly $190 USD, you can purchase Converse sneakers for a fraction of the price at $30-50 USD.

Why you might want to suck it up and splurge on lifting shoes

The Converse All Star Chuck II isn't great for lifting

Are converse shoes good for lifting?
In July 2015, Converse unveiled a redesigned model of their classic All-Star shoes for the first time in 98 years.  While the All-Star Chuck II looks almost identical to its predecessor, it no longer bears the qualities that make Chucks a desirable option for lifting: arch support and affordability (to some degree). A foam lining cushions the soles of the All-Star Chuck II, providing a form of arch support that would make it more difficult for lifters to exert force through the ground. Although the updated sneakers don't cost as much as lifting shoes, they do ring the cash register in at $75 for high-tops and $70 for low-tops.

Raised Heels

Adidas lifting shoes // Are Chucks good for lifting? - The PumpUp Blog
Lifting shoes, on the other hand, might be worth the splurge if heavier squats are your goal. They don't have any extra sole padding, but they have slightly raised heels, which gives your ankle more mobility and allows you to squat deeper. It'll also correct potential stance deficits, keeping you upright, reducing pressure on your lower back and recruiting the right muscles to help you lift with better form and greater efficiency. But when you're deadlifting, you really want shoes that are as flat as possible.

Extra Stability

If you do have ankle problems, weightlifting shoes will also give you more stability. Their hard soles will ensure that you're able to transfer tons of force into the ground and your feet will be able to have a tighter grip on the floor. With better balance and stability, you'll improve your technique and reduce your risk of injury simultaneously.

The verdict

Are converse shoes good for lifting?

So, are Chucks good for lifting? While the new Chuck II shoes aren't ideal, original Converse sneakers are decent. They have flat soles that resist compression and they're affordable. But depending on your technique, ankle mobility, level of intensity, and budget, you might want to splurge on a pair of weightlifting shoes. What are your favourite shoes for lifting? Do you wear shoes at all? Let us know in the comments below!

 How Anne learned to truly accept herself and fuel her body

How Anne learned to truly accept herself and fuel her body

Picture a girl who is working her hardest at the squat rack. She's proudly adorning loudly-patterned calf-high socks. She doesn't have makeup on, her hair is up, and sweat is dripping off of her body. That girl is the most confident girl in the room: she has taken everybody else out of the equation. In this moment, the only thing that matters to her is that she's doing the best that she can with her body. "That girl is me," said Anne, a PumpUp motivator who has come a long way in terms of body confidence and self-acceptance.

4 moves to build strength with this full body workout

4 moves to build strength with this full body workout


You're short on time and you want a workout that completely and thoroughly strengthens your whole body. If you're going to squeeze some exercise in between your tightly-packed schedule, it might as well be a full body workout. These 4 moves demonstrated by PumpUp member @fitmissrach will make your efforts worth it. You'll be working your abs, glutes, quads and arms. Only two pieces of equipment are required for these exercises: a medicine ball and a pair of dumbbells. Feel free to try this workout within the comfort of your home or at the gym. That's how accessible it is. Plank dumbbell rows

Plank dumbbell rows - 4 strengthening moves for a full body workout (GIF) from the PumpUp Blog

Begin in a plank position. Your shoulders are in line with your wrists, your feet are shoulder-width apart and you're gripping a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbow close to the side of your body and stabilize your core as you draw the elbow up towards your body in a rowing motion. Repeat on the other side. Perform at least 12 reps on each side.

Plank side tucks

Plank side jumps - 4 strengthening moves for a full body workout (GIF) from the PumpUp Blog

Begin in a plank position. Your feet are close together, shoulders aligned with your wrists in a straight line and hands gripping dumbbells. Tuck your knees and jump your feet together, towards the side of one elbow. Promptly jump towards the other side and repeat for 30 seconds or at least 12 reps on each side.

Medicine ball squat jacks

Plank medicine ball squat jacks- 4 strengthening moves for a full body workout (GIF) from the PumpUp Blog

Hold your medicine ball tight towards your jest, with one hand on each side of the ball and elbows out. Drop into a full wide legged squat, with your knees just over your toes. Jump your feet back together so that you spring into a straight standing position, then drop back down into a wide legged squat. Repeat for 30 seconds or at least 12 reps.

Medicine ball squat to overhead reach

Medicine ball squat reaches- 4 strengthening moves for a full body workout (GIF) from the PumpUp Blog

Hold your medicine ball out in front of you with straight arms, one hand on each side of the ball. Take a wide legged stance and drop down into a full squat, lowering the medicine ball down towards the floor and in between your legs with straight arms as you squat. As you straighten your legs, reach the ball over your head, maintaining the same arm position. Repeat for 30 seconds or at least 12 reps.

4 move full body workout from the PumpUp Blog - Get your heart pumping! You just need a medicine ball and a pair of dumbbells. Plank dumbbell rows, plank side tucks, medicine ball squat jacks, and squat to overhead presses.

Love these 4 strengthening full body workout moves from PumpUp member @fitmissrach? Let us know in the comments below and tag us on PumpUp and Instagram with #TeamPumpUp and #WorkoutWednesday if you tried these moves! Have any other favourite full body workout moves that you'd like to show the PumpUp community? Tag your videos on Instagram with #TeamPumpUp so that we can see them!

Get your body pumping with this partner arm workout

Get your body pumping with this partner arm workout


Make your Sweaty Sunday really and earnestly sweaty with this partner arm workout to remember. Your upper extremities will feel like jello sticks, and that's okay. It means that you're working hard. PumpUp members @breezybaby and @kfit22 made a very sweaty arm workout video to help demonstrate the moves.  What are your favourite ways to work your arms? Show us how! Challenge yourself and remember to tag your sweaty selfies on the PumpUp app today!

10 minutes on the stair stepper (warm up)


20 squat to medicine ball passes
Squat to medicine ball passes : a killer move that will target your arms during this partner workout. Find out more on the PumpUp Blog
Begin with the medicine ball and chest level, elbows slightly bent to support the weight of the medicine ball. Drop down into a squat and make sure that your knees don't reach past your toes. When ascending, launch the medicine ball out of your hands (vertically), and let your partner catch it. Repeat.


10 burpees with push-ups
Burpees to push-ups (GIF) - A move that keeps your heart rate up and improves your strength during this partner arm workout. Find out more on the PumpUp Blog
Perform a regular burpee by dropping your hands firmly onto the floor. Lower your body into a push-up, making sure that your shoulders are in line with your wrists. Jump your feet back towards your forearms and promptly launch your body upwards towards the ceiling, with your hands raised. Repeat.


20 high knee runs (each leg, 40 total)
High knee runs. Get your heart pumping with this awesome no-equipment exercise. Find out more on the PumpUp Blog
Run in place while lifting each knee towards your chest. Alternate legs and pump your arms through the motion as quickly as you can.


20 deadlift-row-tricep kickbacks
Dumbell deadlift-row-tricep kickback combos. This move targets different parts of your arm to strengthen your muscles. Find out more on the PumpUp Blog
Hold your dumbbell, lower it towards your feet and keep a flat back when doing so. Push through your legs to lift yourself up, press the dumbbells towards your obliques, bend your elbows a a 90 degree angle, and kick back your arms.


20 bicep curls to shoulder presses
Dumbbell arm gif
Hold the dumbbells so that the handles of the weight are parallel to you. Press your arms to your sides, lower your forearms and raise them. Bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders and press the weights up. Lower your arms and repeat.


Perform this partner arm workout 2-3 times for best results. Have fun and remember to tag your videos on Instagram with #TeamPumpUp so we can see them! Have a great sweaty sunday! Let us know if you performed this partner arm workout in the comments below!


partner arm workout pumpup

4 reasons why you should get off the elliptical and into the weight room


This is a post by Rachel Carpenter (@bothgirl). Check out her blog for her daily workouts!

When people ask for my fitness advice, I preach three guidelines:

  1. Stick to a clean diet. Eat real food, and more protein/veggies, fewer sugars/carbs.
  2. HIIT (High intensity interval training) cardio.
  3. Lift heavy weights and strength train.

But every time a woman asks me for advice, she shies away from #3. Or, God forbid, she says that she wants to exercise with “less weight, more reps” because she “just wants to tone up” (don’t get me started on “toning” – I’ll save that for another blog).

The next thing I’ll say to her, in the interest of time, is to look at me.

I lift heavy. No, I’m talking heavy. On a weekly basis I max out (hundreds of pounds) on squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, dips, etc. If I’m not failing on the second or third rep, I’m not going heavy enough. Of course I switch up the weight and intensity, but super-heavy sets of 3-5 repetitions are an integral part of my training.

And I am not big. I am slender and strong with a body-fat percentage hovering around 14-17%. I am not bulky. Every person’s body is different, but the principles are the same. I don’t have a body fat percentage of 16% because I do cardio, and it’s not by accident. 

Don’t believe me? Here are four reasons you need to go pick up a heavy barbell – right now. 


1)  Let’s talk about efficiency

Cardio burns fat and calories during exercise (1 hour). Weight training causes Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This means that your metabolism is revving for up to 38 hours after your workout. And listen up ladies: the heavier the weight – the more EPOC. (Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, Norway)

2)  Muscle burns fat

Muscles are the primary energy consumers in the body. More muscles = more fat burned. (Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology)

3)  You will NOT get big and bulky

Women have far less testosterone than men – making it extremely difficult to get large without the use of drugs. You can work your booty off and still only build a fraction of the muscle that men do. (Muscle and Health)

Plus, do you think it’s easy for guys to get huge? Trust me, you’re not going to “accidentally” get big.

4)  Outside of fat loss, you need to do strength training for your overall health

Don’t believe me? Strength training will:

  • Boost energy
  • Protect joints from injury
  • Reduce depression
  • Fight osteoporosis
  • Lower diabetes risk
  • Better heart health
  • Blood sugar control
  • Back pain prevention
  • Improved balance
  • Better sex
  • Reduce stress
  • Sharpen memory 

If we’re being honest – there are other factors that play into the female stigma against lifting weights.  All too often I see women let their misinformed fears about bulking up keep them out of the weight room. This makes the weight room a scary place for the women who understand the importance of lifting heavy. But we can change this, and do the men a favor, by getting in there.

Ladies: please lift heavy. You’ll look better, you’ll feel better, and you’ll be better. Get after it.


Question of the Day: What is your greatest fear? Spiders? Heights? Have you been able to overcome it? Let us know! Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen! Thanks to absolutely amazing PumpUp member @xfitfirecracker for this photo!

This is why women shouldn't be afraid of lifting weights

This is part of a series of posts by Jennifer (@liftingfairy on PumpUp), an aspiring bikini competitor. Check out her blog here. 

Let me present the body of every woman’s dream: Being lean, without being too skinny nor too muscular, having feminine (but defined) arms and legs, a flat belly and of course a sexy round bubble butt that fills your jeans. Am I right?

To achieve this, losing fat isn’t enough. Women lack the required muscle tissue, so losing weight, spending hours over hours doing cardio and training with 2kg tinkerbell-weights won’t get you this athletic look.

If you want a toned body, all you have to do is build muscles and reduce your Body-Fat Percentage (BFP).

Lowering your BFP is only a question of a proper diet, which also includes supplements to support the recovery of your muscles. This leads us to the next point : To build up muscles you have to lift heavy weights. 


Unfortunately, when it comes to heavy weight lifting, I always hear women complaining about how this is going to make them look bulky. You will never get a bulky look because the hormone that directly regulates muscle growth is testosterone, which is, for women, only at 5-10% of a man’s average testosterone level. 

Scientific research has shown that a man’s testosterone level is 45 times higher than a woman’s after exercising. This should not surprise you, because resistance training doesn’t increase the level of testosterone for women.

I can reassure you that you won’t look like Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight if you lift heavy. It would take you years and a lot of very hard work to really bulk up and obtain a large amount of protruding muscles. The women in the real bodybuilding-scene don’t get that look by only drinking pineapple-juice, just saying…


Still not sure about lifting weights? Have a look at the benefits:

Health benefits of lifting

  • It reduces the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome or cancer.
  • It strengthens your bones
  • It’s easier for you to stay lean as your metabolism speeds up (even post-workout)
  • It increases your life expectancy
  • It strengthens your immune system

Physique benefits of lifting

  • You will get nice curves due to the well-developed muscles.
  • Lean muscles will improve your look (”Fit girls look better naked”, remember?)
  • A strong and developed body helps you age better, as research has shown that a greater muscle mass in older women is associated with better mobility, lower body weight and BFP.


Therefore, if you want to get those toned and sexy legs and that round bubble-butt, nothing beats an intense workout of ‘guy exercises’ such as walking-lunges, squats or stiffed leg deadlifts. To get sleek and defined arms, just do some heavy exercises like curls, triceps skull crushers, shoulder press, dips or military press.

Ladies, it’s definitely time to put down those pink baby weights and get sexy by lifting with the guys! They will respect you even more if you lift heavy and work for your body. Believe in yourself and don’t get intimidated by the guys-corner at the gym!

Your Lifting Fairy xx


This is part of a series of posts by Jennifer, an aspiring bikini competitor from Luxembourg. Check out her blog and follow her on PumpUp @liftingfairy and on Instagram @lifting_fairy.

Spotlight Series: Krystina P.

pumpup app spotlight

Today’s spotlight beams brightly upon PumpUp member Krystina P., who cultivated her love for lifting with the help of PumpUp.  As a newcomer to the world of weights, Krystina was galvanized to join the PumpUp community in order to learn proper form and technique. “I was in need of something to show me how to do certain lifts because I had no previous experience,” explains Krystina. “I have accomplished so much using the PumpUp fitness app. Really! I started off not knowing how to do any kind of weight lifting exercise and now I find myself doing exercises that some would call advanced!” Intrigued by how this PumpUp member did it? Read on to learn about how Krystina ‘lifted’ her way to achieving her fitness goals!

Already a fairly active runner prior to joining PumpUp, Krystina felt that learning how to lift would add an extra dimension of satisfaction to her workouts. “I didn’t know how or where to start,” Krystina expressed. “PumpUp’s pictures and descriptions taught me from the get go and really showed me which lifts work [which specific parts] of your body.”


Weightlifting fuels the fire in her workouts, as Krystina admits with a grin that, “As far as exercise [goes], I like to lift weights. No—I love to lift weights. I section off my days to work various parts of my body and rotate through them. I also do some cardio but I admit I have been slacking a bit on it!”

She has impressively integrated at least 5 visits to the gym per week into her busy summer work schedule. “These days I’ve been working between 30 and 40 hours a week before school starts up, so it’s been quite the challenge to make it to the gym!” admits Krystina. “[It’s] challenging when I’m working outside in the heat on top of the gym. I manage to get it done though! I didn’t think [that it] could be but I’ve learned it IS possible!”

Krystina was able to transform her weight lifting ambitions into reality with few inhibitions, particularly when she started out as a beginner. “I love that PumpUp shows you how to do the workouts as well as give descriptions as to what you’re working (as far as muscle) and what level it is,” elaborated Krystina. “This helped me out quite a bit when I first started learning how to lift weights. It helped win my gym confidence too! Now I can walk into any gym and know exactly what I need to do or what variations I can do.”


Her streak of confidence is as unwavering as her resolve to reach peak fitness and form, as she hopes to take her healthy active lifestyle to the next level through competitions . “For now I’m going to keep learning as much as I can but in the long run I would really like to train for a bikini competition!” says Krystina.  “I’ve been interested in them for almost a year now but with my last year of college it could be tricky so we shall see!

Key to Krystina’s success is a mindset that does not overwhelmingly compare her personal progress with that of others. “Not everyone is in the same stage of their journey,” Krystina emphasizes. “Be proud of who YOU are and the changes you see in YOUR body! And remember that for everything there is a first time and whether you’re on day 1 or day 100, you’re doing it and that’s all that matters!”



Biggest Inspiration

It may be a tad cliche but my biggest inspiration is my boyfriend Ryan :) He has known me from the start of my journey and has been nothing but encouraging and supportive. He’s a baseball player and has been training for years so I know I can always go to him for help with lifting. It’s super contagious and now we’ve even starting lifting together!! For the past three months we have been able to workout together at least once a week. He pushes me and forces me to recognize that I’m stronger than I think.

Motivational Mantra

“If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful”

ET (or Eric Thomas) is the best motivational speaker. He really engages you and strikes a chord in you to get moving and get motivated. I would recommend him to anyone looking to find some motivation or inspiration or for simple entertainment! Go check him out!

Routine routine on PumpUp

My favorite workout is anything involving legs! The lower body pump is especially great because it has a lot of squat variations and dead lift variations. 

Softie for sports

I’m a born and raised Dodgers fan and Royals fan, Sporting KC fan, KC Chiefs fan, and KU Jayhawks fan. I absolutely love them all! I kick butt in my fantasy football leagues and so far I’m first in one of my fantasy baseball leagues! 


Want to keep tabs on Krystina as she achieves her health and fitness goals? Follow her on PumpUp @krysfit and on Instagram!


We all know how easy it can be to get distracted while working out. And sometimes that’s a good thing! Getting caught up in the TV show that is on, or our killer playlist may help us run faster and longer than we could have otherwise. But sometimes this distracted exercise isn’t always a good thing. Mindless exercise could make your results non-existent because you are just going through the motions of your workout rather than really embracing and feeling the movements of your muscles. So next workout make sure you are aware and conscious of your muscles contracting and you’ll get a better workout!

Top 5 Workout Mistakes

When it comes to fitness, there’s a lot to know. While we can’t possibly teach you all there is to know in a single blog post, we can teach you how to avoid the biggest mistakes you can make. Here’s a list of the top 5 mistakes that you’ve likely seen in action before, but may not have noticed!

  1. Not Eating: Half the battle in the gym is what you bring with you (or in you, rather). Whether your goal is to be healthy, lose weight, or put on muscle, without proper nutrition you’re not going to see results . Try eating 30-60 minutes before going to the gym - ideally foods with B vitamins (eg. yogurt, a banana, peanut butter) to help you release your energy and some carbs (eg. whole wheat toast) to supply you with energy.
  2. Lack of Sleep: Without a good night’s sleep your body doesn’t have enough time to sufficiently recover from workouts. Try to get 6-8 hours of sleep, especially after a workout.
  3. Swinging Weights: We’ve all seen this one before, but did you know it’s actually dangerous? Along with not receiving the muscle gains you want, you can get seriously injured. Lower the amount of weight you’re lifting if you swing your weights.
  4. Avoiding Cardio or Weights: A lot of people tend to avoid cardio if trying to put on muscle or avoid weights if trying to improve their cardio. Fact is: weight training and cardio go hand-in-hand. To stay healthy, it’s important to balance working your heart (via cardio) and your other muscles (via weight training).
  5. Not Having a Routine: How are you supposed to know what to do and how to do it if you don’t plan out your exercise program. This is the most confusing part of working out. If you don’t feel like researching endlessly, let PumpUp take out the confusion by building the workout perfect for you and adjusting it to you as you go! 

And there you have it - 5 mistakes that you’ll never do again! Let me know if you have any questions or can think of any other big mistakes you see.