How to Effectively Exercise in a Small Space

In this article, you’ll learn my top seven moves for exercising in a small space, along with a sample workout that shows you exactly how to put them all together. I’ve chosen exercises that work multiple muscle groups and also get your heart rate up quickly.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #249

With my hectic travel schedule, I often find myself stuck in a hotel room or an airport terminal with no access to a gym and not much space to exercise, but a desire to maintain my health and fitness and keep my metabolic rate elevated. Perhaps you’ve also found yourself stuck at home or stuck traveling with only a small amount of space to exercise. And the hundreds of thousands of college students getting back-to-school will most certainly find themselves in a dorm or shared space, where there isn’t much exercise equipment or space. But there’s certainly pressure to keep the pounds at bay and maintain a nice body!

Here, you'll learn my top seven moves for exercising in a small space, along with a sample workout that shows you exactly how to put them all together. I’ve chosen exercises that work multiple muscles groups and also get your heart rate up quickly.

Top Seven Exercises For A Small Space

1. Advanced Burpees

Just in case a normal burpee isn’t difficult enough for you, I recommend the advanced burpee. You’ll burn more calories with this version. Bend over and squat down. Put both hands on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder width. While holding your upper body in place, kick your legs back. You’ll now be in a pushup position with your body in straight, plank position. Now perform a quick pushup by lowering your body to floor and back up. Keeping your upper body in place, pull your legs forward under body, returning your feet to original position. Jump up, clap your hands, and land. That’s one rep.

2. Super Slow Push-Ups

These are exactly as they sound: simply do a push-up, but lower yourself for a 4-10 count and go back up at a 4-10 count. To ensure you’re getting the maximum benefit out of this version of the pushup, try to get your nose, your chest, and your crotch to all touch the ground when you get to the bottom.

3. Bent Rows

Choose any weight you want for this: a sandbag, a milk carton, a dumbbell, a very heavy textbook, another person—pretty much anything you can find. Then bend over, straighten your book, look forward, stick your butt out, and row, pulling your shoulders back as you pull the weight to your chest, then bringing the weight back down towards the ground until your arms are straight. For more lower back work, stand up between each rep.

4. Dive Bomber Push-Ups

Also known as the Hindu pushup, which refers to the yogis who perform this pushup as part of their “asana” routine, the dive bomber pushup is a dynamic push-up twist that will build strength and flexibility in your hamstrings, calves, chest, shoulders, back, hips, and triceps. 

Put your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and then spread your feet apart to the same width. Stick your butt in the air so you look like an inverted “V,” then lower your shoulders toward the floor, and, before your chin or chest hits the floor, swoop your body forward so that your chest ends faces forward with your back arched, your head up and your arms straight. Then simply reverse position, swooping back to where you started. Here’s a helpful video.

5. Lunge Jumps

Get into deep lunge position. Jump and switch legs in mid-air so that you’ve completely alternated which leg is in front. Now jump again so that you’re back in your original position. That’s one rep. These leg burners will boost your heart rate higher than sprinting!

6. Isometric Squat Twists

Get down into a deep squat position and hold it. Now, slowly twist and touch your right elbow to the inside of your left knee, then twist the other way and touch your left elbow to the inside of your right knee. That’s one rep. Maintain the deep squat position the whole time, and try to look straight forward.

7. Mountain Climbers

Drop into a push-up position and simply start “sprinting in place” with your legs, trying to drive your right knee up towards your left elbow followed by your left knee up towards your right elbow. One rep is considered right knee-to-elbow followed by left knee-to-elbow.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.