7 Intense Workouts You Can Do in Small Spaces

Whether it’s your office cubicle, hotel room, or pint-sized apartment, trying to squeeze exercise into these spaces feels like a lost cause — especially when it comes to any kind of workout that will actually show results. But often, due to our hectic schedules, these locations are the only places we can hope to sneak in a workout. And as research has shown us, even if it’s minimal, getting some kind of daily exercise is better than none at all. The good news is, with some creative flexibility, it’s more than possible to get a big workout in a small space.

1. Mountain climbers

Young Man Doing Planking Exercise

Mountain climbers are great to do in any small space. | iStock.com

To get some intense cardio without pounding the pavement, go mountain climbing (the kind that doesn’t require an actual mountain). To do a mountain climber, get into push-up position. Then step one foot forward as if you’re walking up a staircase. Repeat with the alternate foot. Do this move as fast as you can for one minute. Repeat two more times with a 30-second break between each set.

2. Wall squats

Man doing squats on a track

Wall squats are tough and effective. | iStock.com

It’s hard to go wrong with good ol’ wall squats. The beauty of this move is you can literally do it anywhere that there’s, of course, a wall. So no matter how tiny your room is, put your back against the wall and slide down until your hips, knees, and ankles are all making right angles with the floor. Hold this for as long as you can bear it, then let yourself rest for 10 seconds. Try doing three to five more squats to really reap the benefits of this simple, yet effective, move.

3. High-knee sprints

athlete warms up for exercise with high-knee skips

High-knee sprints can be performed in a small space. | iStock.com

For another cardio option in your mini makeshift gym, pick up those knees! Essentially that’s the whole move — run in place and drive your knees just above your hips. To get the most out of this exercise, put your hands with palms down in front of you and try to hit them with your kneecaps. Or, you could try pumping your arms with perfect 90-degree angles to elevate the cardio level. Also, to avoid any injury, make sure you land on the balls of your feet rather than your heels. Do this for 30 seconds followed by 20 seconds of rest. Then, repeat three to five times.

4. Chest press

Resistance band on the floor

Try using a resistance band to help you with your chest presses. | iStock.com

You don’t need tons of weights or fancy equipment to put some muscle on your chest. If you have access to a resistance band and door, you can get a great chest workout even with limited space. Lock your resistance band to the door and then stand facing the other direction, placing one side of the band in either hand. Point your toes forward, bend your knees slightly, and engage those core muscles. Bend your arms at 90 degrees with your upper arms parallel to the floor and then straighten your arms by pushing them forward. Repeat this move 15 times.

5. Butt kickers

Man stretching after running

Butt kickers are good for raising your heart rate in a tight space. | iStock.com

For another option to (for lack of a better term) kick your butt into shape, go for this cardio move. It’s pretty self-explanatory — essentially, you just run in place. But instead of driving your knees up, you kick your heels to (or near, to avoid some nasty bruises the next day) your butt with every stride. Just like with high-knee sprints, do three 30-second sprints with 20 seconds of rest in between, and repeat three to five times.

6. T push-up against a wall

Relaxing with legs on the wall, exercise, fitness

All you need is a wall to perform this move. | iStock.com

Once again taking advantage of the walls as equipment, try this next-level version of a push-up. Start by getting into regular push-up position while standing against the wall. Your body should be parallel and a couple of inches away from the wall. Then, rotate the back of your torso toward the wall and raise your other hand into the air. Keep your arms straight and press the back of your raised hand against the wall, holding it for five seconds. Go back to your original position, then replicate in the opposite direction. Repeat this move 10 times on each side.

7. Supermans

Man in the bottom phase of a push-up in an empty room

Supermans are fun and easy to do anywhere. | iStock.com

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s you getting fit in a tiny room! When in doubt, supermans are a simple yet effective workout move to choose if you want to build core strength. Simply lie on your stomach and lift your limbs into the air, keeping your legs straight the whole time. Squeeze your glutes and lower-back muscles to help you lift higher above the ground — almost like you’re flying. Hold for a count of 30 seconds before resting your whole body on the floor. Repeat this three times with 10 seconds of rest in between.