Exercise In Small Spaces
If you live in a dorm room or small apartment, setting up huge exercise equipment is out of the question. But choose wisely what you do with what and you can get a full workout.
The Small Space Frontier: Dorm Rooms And Tiny Flats
As I work out at in the room that is normally my study, I know that having a small version of the Enterprise’s holodeck can feel like the only possible solution to the problem: having so little room you want to do so much in.
It seems as if setting up weightlifting benches, pec decks, preacher benches and what have you would require some serious fiddling with space-time continuum.
But actually we don’t have do that at all (although having a holodeck would still be neat). You can still do a wide variety of exercises at home, even those that normally require machinery.
Think a bit out of the box and pick versatile exercise equipment you can use for more than one thing!
#1 Small Space Trick: Dumbbells
At the beginning, working out just with your body is enough. But when your body weight doesn’t challenge you anymore and space is premium, dumbbells are your first weapon of choice. There is an almost endless list of exercises you can do with them and, best of all, they don’t take up a lot storage room. I currently own about 200 lbs (90 kg) in plates and this is the entire space they take up, handles included:
If I ever decide to clean out all those old manuals I could probably store double the amount. Also note that this little cabinet is metal; if you want to put your plates in a closet, use the bottom. The shelves probably wouldn’t be able to handle the weight.
And, in case you wonder, a barbell is more optional and less necessary.
The Workout Bench For Small Apartments Solution
Owning a bench is often seen as essential when doing home weightlifting, but they take up about the same space as a small desk. If you don’t plan climbing over it whenever you want to go to bed or to your computer, what should you do?
The solution is a simple, sturdy board, which won’t only replace a bench, but more. From left to right, here is how I do inclined bench presses, hamstring curls and preacher curls:
When you’ve finished, simply slip it under the bed or wherever is convenient. The measurements of my board are 31 inches (80 cm) long, 12 inches (30 cm) wide and 4/5th inches (2 cm) thick. When you pick one make sure it is solid wood and not pressed wood or plywood – those can bend and break.
Now we got most of your body already covered, but for some serious exercising with your back, you need a pull-up bar. Pulldowns are similar, but if you had a way for doing those, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?
For those pull-up bars, we have a couple of options:
The first is the one I chose, a so-called “corner-mounted pull-up bar” that I installed right over the door and isn’t in the way when it’s not needed. It does, however, require solid walls – you can’t install it on drywalls and such. The second one you mount on the door frame and allows for a wide grip, but takes up an awful lot of room to store. The third goes into the door frame and doesn’t take a lot of room when put away, but you can’t have a wide grip with it and it may also damage the frame.
As you can see, all of these have advantages and disadvantages – it depends on your preferences and circumstances what you choose. But even if none of these options work for you, you can still do pull-ups: here is an article with tons of suggestions.
Example Plans With This Equipment
What does it look like when you use all this in a workout plan? Can you target every muscle? Yep! For examples check my intermediate home workout plan and, if you need something really challenging, the advanced split.
Apartment picture courtesy of Kimba Howard, door-mounted pull-up bar pictures courtesy of Drew Stephens and Eric Schmuttenmaer.
What a nice set of practical ideas, EC!
This is such a useful presentation. Thank you!
Thanks, J! 🙂
My bench is actually right next to where I sleep. Sometimes I accidentally lie down onto weight plates or my hex bar when I unthinkingly tip over at the end of the day to sleep
Oops! At least you aren’t doing presses when you sleep! 🙂