Five Intense Workouts for Small Spaces

Working out while you are traveling or living in cramped quarters can be a challenge. However, there are lots of workouts you can do that require no equipment and very little space.

Whenever I go on vacation, I do several of the workouts featured below. I know I am getting a full-body workout, and I don’t have to worry about space constraints. Check out some of my favorite small-space workouts that will strengthen your body and burn calories – with no equipment needed!

Small Space, Full-Body Workout

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The Essential Body Part Women Ignore

One of the weakest areas in many women’s bodies are their hips. Many of us sit for a good portion of the day, which forces our hips into a crunched position. Maintaining a seated position for long periods of time can cause the muscles in our hips to shorten and tighten – particularly our hip flexors.

The role of our hips in day-to-day life is often overlooked. Our hips do SO MUCH. Hips are responsible for helping you maintain balance, walking correctly, lifting your leg and controlling the position of your knee.

Strengthening your hips can help you avoid injury and also assist in the prevention of osteoarthritis. The best way to keep injuries or arthritis at bay is to strengthen your hips. This is a quick hip workout you can do to start strengthening this forgotten – but necessary – body part.

Side-lying leg raises, with your toes pointed down, are an excellent movement to strengthen your hips.

Side-lying leg raises, with your toes pointed down, are an excellent movement to strengthen your hips.

***This workout uses a mini band for the lateral walk. These bands are inexpensive, very versatile and can be purchased from numerous locations. This is the band I use for training clients. (Disclaimer: if you click on this link and purchase a product linked from this site, it could result in a small amount of money for me.)

Strong Hips Workout:

10 Squats with Side Leg Raises

10 Reverse Lunges (per leg)

10 Single-Leg Glute Bridges (per leg)

10 Supermen

15 Side-Lying Leg Lifts (per leg)

15 Side-Lying Leg Lifts With Toe Pointed Down (per leg)

30 Sec. Plank

10 Wall Squats

30 Sec. Lateral Band Walk – per side

Repeat for a total of 3 times.

Finish up with some stretches – particularly the cobra stretch!

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Ultimate 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout

I wanted to squeeze in a weight lifting workout during a recent vacation. I didn’t know what was available in the fitness room, so I couldn’t plan my workout in advance. After scoping out the equipment, I pulled this workout together. I really liked it, and I felt like it did a good job of hitting the major muscle groups while still cranking up my heart rate.

This workout can be done in your home, at the gym or a hotel fitness center. You just need a few sets of dumbbells, and that’s it! I did 10 reps of each exercise, so it would be easier to remember. However, feel free to add on repetitions or go heavier with your weights!

If you like this workout, check out some of my other favorite dumbbell workouts below:

Arms Are Burning Dumbbell Workout

Feel the Burn Dumbbell Workout

Ultimate 20-Minute Dumbbell Workout:

Circuit #1:

10 Lateral Hops

10 Squat + Shoulder Press

10 DB Deadlifts

10 DB Rows

10 Push-ups

10 Squat Jumps

Repeat for a total of 3 times.

Circuit #2:

10 Side Plank Rotations (per side)

10 Lying DB Skull Crushers

10 Bird Dogs

30 Sec. Up and Down Planks/Plank ups

Repeat for a total of 3 times.

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Can Exercise Tone Flabby Arms?

Can exercise tone flabby arms? Absolutely! We all carry our weight in different parts of our bodies, and for some people, their upper arms are a common place. Exercise can’t spot reduce a specific area of your body; however, a balanced diet coupled with exercise can help reduce body fat – including the backs of the arms.

Triceps exercises will help strengthen your triceps muscles, which will help reduce the appearance of flabby upper arms. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) sponsored a study to identify the most effective triceps exercises. After testing several well-known movements, the triangle push-up was identified as the most effective triceps exercise.

If you are hoping to strengthen your triceps, check out my quick, five-minute “banish flabby arms” workout that you can tack on to an existing workout or if you are short on time, do it by itself. Additionally, I’m including some of my favorite cardio and strength training workouts, which will help with overall weight loss and strength training.

5 minute Triceps Workout:

12 Triangle Push-ups

12 Triceps Dips on the Ground

12 Triceps Kickbacks

Repeat 2-3 times total.

Here are some of my favorite workouts to help burn calories and strengthen muscles:

Small-Space Workout

Isometric Burn Workout

20-Min. AMRAP Workout

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Quick, Heart-Pumping Cardio Workout

I enjoy strength training workouts, but sometimes there is something incredibly satisfying about a quick, challenging cardio workout.

Cardio exercise provides many benefits for your body. During cardio exercise, short for cardiovascular, your heart rate increases and you breathe faster/deeper. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood, which helps you use oxygen in the most efficient way possible.

How well your body is able to use this oxygen is referred to as your aerobic capacity. The better your body is at using oxygen, the more improved your aerobic capacity is. For example, we’ve all felt breathless from trekking up a steep incline or stairs. The greater your aerobic capacity, the less breathless you will feel when you reach the top (and the easier it will be for you to get to the top).

Additional cardio benefits include:

  • Improved memory

  • Decreased chances of a stroke

  • Better mood

  • More calories burned

  • Better sleep

If you are short on time but need a quick cardio workout, try my Tabata workout below. To make the timing of your movements easier, check out this previous post for information about a timer app and how to set it up for Tabata workouts.

Want more cardio workouts? Visit my workouts page for additional cardio routines including these favorites:

Bodyweight Cardio Workout

Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) Interval Workout

Belly Blasting Workout

Tabata Circuit #1: (Repeat for a total of three times.)

Quick Feet

Reverse Lunge + Front Kick (Left)

Reverse Lunge + Front Kick (Right)

Squat Jumps

DB Woodchop (Left)

DB Woodchop (Right)

Lateral Hops

Push-ups

Circuit #2: (Repeat for a total of two times.)

Lateral Lunges

Mountain Climbers

Plank Jacks

Skaters

Jumping Jacks

Standing Side Crunch (Left)

High Knees

Standing Side Crunch (Right)

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Five Minute Ab Workout

By the time I get to the end of a workout, I’m tired and it’s a struggle to come up with a challenging abdominal workout. Here’s a quick, five-minute workout you can tack on to the end of a workout or do it by itself on those “I-don’t-have-time-to-work-out” days.

For more abdominal and core workouts, check out some of my favorites:

Ultimate Core Workout

Belly Blasting Workout

Five Minute Abdominal Workout:

30 Sec. Plank Walk Outs

30 Sec. Cross Body Mountain Climbers

30 Sec. Plank Rainbows

15 Bent Leg Crunches

15 Straight Leg Crunches

30 Sec. Plank

15 Side Plank Rotations (L)

15 Side Plank Rotations (R)

30 Sec. Scissor Lifts

30 Sec. Plank

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How Often Should You Train Your Abs?

Although you might be motivated to train your abs frequently, that’s not necessarily the best approach. Your muscles need a day, or more, of rest in between sessions in order to repair themselves. Lifting weights damages muscle fibers (creates microscopic tears in the muscles you’ve worked), so rest days give your muscles time to reconstruct, recover and increase in size.

Strive to do abdominal workouts 2-3 times a week. Your workouts shouldn’t be 20 minutes of nonstop crunches – you want to do a workout that involves your core in a variety of movements. (Check out my belly blasting workout for an example of a full-body, core-intensive workout.)

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Remember: eating a balanced, healthy diet coupled with working out will give you the best shot at seeing definition in your abdominal muscles. What you eat has the biggest impact on the size of your belly. You can do 100 crunches a day and still not see any progress. You might strengthen your core, but if you have fat on top of your muscles, it will be hard to see the definition.

Here are a few workouts you can do to strengthen your core:

Ultimate Core Workout

Belly Blasting Workout

Starting an Exercise Program in Four Easy Steps

Starting an exercise program or routine can be overwhelming. There are so many options and sometimes a very unclear path to follow. For years I’ve been helping clients and friends start and continue their exercise programs. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just follow these four EASY steps.

Step 1:

Decide what’s feasible for you to do. If it’s a 10-minute walk, three times a week – that’s great! Pick something you can be successful at. Don’t go from the couch to committing to working out for 60 minutes, five days a week. That’s probably not sustainable long term. You can work up to that type of a goal, but your body is probably not ready for that! Some ideas of activities include: 10-minute walk, 30-minute class, 20 minutes of bodyweight exercises, 15 minutes of stretching, 20 minutes of swimming or water walking, walking the stairs at work for 10 minutes or a 15-minute online workout video.

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Get Ready for Summer Workout

After a long winter, I’m always anxious for warmer weather and the opportunity to spend more time outside. Now is the ideal time to start ramping up your activity levels, so you are ready for those summer hikes, bike rides, marathon yard work sessions and trips to the pool.

As with any change in your fitness routine, start small. Don’t go from the couch to a 60-minute spinning session. Start with 20 or 30-minute workout sessions a few times a week. These sessions might be walks around the neighborhood or 30-minute strength training classes. Just make sure you aren’t asking too much of your body the first day/week.

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Choose Your Own Workout

During our recent vacation, my son started reading “choose your adventure” books. He could choose what path he wanted the story to take. (If the robot gets blown up, turn to page 8, but if you want the robot to battle other machines, turn to page 12.)

So many of my clients groan when a certain workout movement is prescribed. I hear endless, “Anything but this movement” comments. So, I decided to use my son’s book as inspiration for a workout.

I created a “Choose Your Workout” for them to do. They had a choice – burpees or plank walkouts, squats or lunges, push-ups or triceps dips, etc.

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Intense Workout You Can Do in a Small Space

Spring Break has come and gone, and I’m not ready to get back to the real world! We were fortunate enough to be able to get away, and I’m still enjoying the relaxed routine we fell into during vacation.

Whenever I’m on vacation, I like the challenge of coming up with a small-space, full-body workout. Hotel rooms, dorm rooms or even apartments can make it challenging to work out. This is a workout I created this past week, and I really liked it. It was challenging enough that I felt like I was getting a good workout, but I was able to do it in a small area.

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How to Get Rid of Those Flabby Underarms – Best Triceps Exercises

Many of us want to banish that fat on the back of our arms that we not-so-lovingly refer to as bat wings, lunch lady arms or turkey wings. As a personal trainer, triceps are the muscle group that I hear the most complaints about. Everyone wants toned, ripped triceps muscles.

Triceps do so much more than you realize. They work in coordination with other muscles to perform tasks like pushing a door shut or doing a push-up. They are also used in smaller scale movements such as writing. While the biceps bend your elbow, the triceps help extend your elbow. Triceps also make your upper body stronger, which means you can throw a ball or shoot a basketball with more force.

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Best Indoor Workout for When it's Cold Outside

We’ve had a rough winter in Kansas this year. Since Jan. 9, our school district has had at least five snow days. One snow day – let alone five – is not a common occurrence. There have been many days where the weather was too bad to go outside for a run or venture to the pool. This workout is for those days when you are trapped at home and can’t make it to the gym. It’s a quick workout that will get your heart rate up. Give it a try!

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How to Lose Belly Fat

Toning and shrinking the belly area is a hot topic among my clients. It seems like everyone wants to have firmer, more defined abs. I get it - we all want to have that envy-inducing six-pack!

You will often here fitness professionals joke that a six-pack is made in the kitchen. They are absolutely right! What you eat has the biggest impact on the size of your belly. You can do 100 crunches a day and still not see any progress. You might strengthen your core, but if you have fat on top of your muscles, it will be hard to see the definition.  

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No-Equipment Workouts For At Home

This winter has been brutal. Lots of snow and ice. It’s easy to skip your workout – no one wants to risk his or her life in order to squeeze in a trip to the gym! If you are stuck at home but really want to work out, check out some of my favorite at-home workouts included below. They are bodyweight workouts that require no equipment! Click on the image to link to more detailed instructions for the various movements.

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Fit February Challenge: 5-Minute Workouts

As a trainer, if I could have one “wish” come true, it would be for more people to just get moving. I’m not talking about taking on a huge, new workout regimen or trying the latest fitness craze. I want people who haven’t had the time to start exercising or have struggled to get back into the habit of exercising to just move. For 5-10 minutes. That’s it.

The logistics of starting an exercise program can be daunting – where to do it, how to do it and when to find the time to do it. My goal for February is to set small, five-minute goals that are manageable and logistically doable.

So, here is my challenge for this week: five minutes of activity, three times a week. You pick the days…just get moving for three days. Challenge a friend or spouse to join you.

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Indoor Workout You Can Do With Your Kids

In December, I had an insane amount of continuing education credits to finish because I had put the classes off…for two years. One of the classes I took was about exercise and kids. I was reminded that kids need a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day. While taking the class, I started to worry that my son wasn’t getting enough activity each day. As a result, I’ve been trying to focus on ensuring that he gets at least 30 - 60 minutes of activity each day.

Much to my son’s dismay, I’ve started making him exercise with me in my gym. Knowing he wasn’t crazy about the idea, I’ve been trying to come up with workouts that are fun and distracting. We just want to burn some energy! This is an alphabet workout we did recently, and it was a success! I spelled out “Happy Valentine’s Day, Finn.” He had to do the exercises associated with each letter!

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Ultimate Core Workout

Although we covet and drool over an impressive set of abdominal muscles, we often overlook how much support those muscles provide in our bodies! Your core (abdominal muscles, back muscles, pelvic core muscles and diaphragm) is the support system for a multitude of movements: bending forward, straightening up to standing, bending back, bending to the side, twisting your torso as well as stabilizing your spine.

When we think about working our core, we often just focus on abdominal movements, but we need to be working our backs and strengthening our pelvic core muscles, too! Many people suffer from lower back pain, and strengthening your core is a great way to help combat back tightness and weakness.

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"No Time to Exercise" Workout

I’m a personal trainer, and even I have to scramble to fit in my workouts on some days. No matter how well I organize my week, I’m often struggling to squeeze in a quick workout. I create 20-minute workouts all of the time, yet I always need more.

Today was one of those days. I wanted a full-body workout, but I didn’t want to be tied to a specific piece of equipment. As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) workouts are my go-to format on days like these. I can push myself a little harder because I’m competing against the clock, and I know I’m going to be done in 20 minutes. It’s a win-win!

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