Regular exercise is an important part of healthy living, but it can be hard to get in strength-based workouts when you live in a small space without any fancy equipment. Thankfully, there are some great full-body exercises for small spaces that, with dedication, can give you gym-level fitness without leaving the house.
The classic push-up is a really effective strength-builder on its own, but there are some variations that can engage new muscles or modify. To get started, position the hands and knees on the floor. The feet should be raised and the hands set slightly beyond shoulder width. Slowly bend the elbows to lower down while looking at the floor. Stop once the chin reaches the ground, then gradually return to the starting position. This option works the arms and chest, and if you progress to a push-up on the toes, you'll incorporate your abdominals and back, as well.
Plank jacks are a great way to strengthen the muscles we use each day because they force you to use the stabilizing muscles of the core, support yourself with the arms, and work the legs.
To get started, take a plank position and engage the abs. From here, jump both feet out wide then back together. Repeat for your chosen number of reps. Keep the hips level with the shoulders, the back flat, and the crown of the head pointing forward (don't crane the neck up) throughout this process.
Squats can help strengthen the legs and core, but adding a jump can lead to even greater health improvements without requiring extra space. Start by lowering into a squat, keeping the knees facing the same direction as the toes regardless of how far down you go. Press yourself back up and jump, keeping the arms at the chest or raising them overhead. When you land, return to the squat and repeat.
If you have poor insulation between the floors of your apartment or problematic joints, you can remove the impact of this exercise by coming into a heel raise when you stand, instead of a jump.
Downward-facing dog engages multiple parts of the body, including the external obliques of the core. From plank, lift the hips up while engaging the core to form a pyramid shape. You can remain here, breathing smoothly, to strengthen the shoulders and core and stretch the hamstrings, or you can try a single leg down dog or transition back and form from plank for a dynamic stretch.
The Superman pose is a great way to work the core and upper legs Lay on the ground on your stomach with your arms extended beyond your head. Engage the glutes and move the shoulder blades down the back to keep the shoulders away from the ears. Lift the arms, head, legs, shoulders, and chest off the ground, focusing on stretching the hands and feet away from each other rather than raising them as high as possible. Hold for a breath, then lower and repeat.
To modify this exercise, try only lifting the arms and chest or only lifting the legs.
The bent-over row with dumbbells is a great way to improve strength in the shoulders because it works the back of the deltoid muscle. Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a dumbbell in one hand.
Let the arm hang straight below the shoulders as the knees bend slightly and the chest leans forward — you can also support the non-weight side by kneeling on a couch or bench. Draw the weight toward your armpit, bringing the elbow back toward the waist until it is in line with the back. Lower the weight and repeat.
This exercise is great for strengthening the core. Start by entering the traditional forearm plank position with the elbows positioned under the shoulders.
This can be a challenging exercise on its own, but to strengthen the obliques in the core that give you stability, raise one arm off the floor and hold for a beat, then lower and repeat on the other side. You can also try lifting and lowering one leg at a time. Throughout, try to keep the hip of the raised arm or leg from moving around. Take the challenge even further by lifting one leg and the opposite arm at the same time.
Chest presses help build strength in the front of the chest. Start by lying on your back with weights in each hand. Bring the elbows out to the side so your elbows are in line with your shoulders, and the weights are over your elbows. Extend the arms up with control until they are straight and the weights are over the shoulders. Avoid locking the elbows. Lower the arms and repeat.
To work the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings, lie on the ground with the knees bent and the feet planted hip-width apart. You should be able to just brush your heels with your fingertips. The hands can provide stability beside your hips or rest on the stomach.
Tuck the chin so the back of the neck is long. Press the feet firmly into the ground to raise the buttocks until the hips are in a diagonal line from the knees. Engage the core muscles as you lower back down.
Boat pose can strengthen the muscles of the core and legs. Sit on the floor with the knees bent. Raise the arms out in front of you or overhead (the overhead is more challenging). Raise the feet off the ground, either keeping the knees bent or straightening the legs for a more challenging version. Hold for a few breaths, then lower with control.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.