Exercise Moves You Can Do Anywhere—Even a Packed Gym

gym workout

Picture this: You hit send on that last email, grab your gym bag, and get ready to work up a sweat—only to arrive at the gym and find that everyone else had the exact same plan. It wouldn’t be unusual: Fitbit data shows that gyms are most crowded between 6pm and 7pm.

Instead of spending precious time waiting in line for machines and equipment, make the most of the space you have with this compact workout from Lea Rouse, a certified personal trainer for the Fitbit Coach app. These exercises only require a small amount of space, so whether you’re waiting on a treadmill in a packed gym, stuck at the office, or staying in your brother’s tiny guest room, you can still get in a great workout.

The Best Workout for Small Spaces

Active Warm-Up: Butt Kicks and High Knees
Butt kicks and high knees are great to loosen your muscles before tackling your main workout, says Rouse.

  • Do 30 seconds of butt kicks: Run in place, alternately kick your right heel up towards your glutes and then your left. Your feet should feel like you’re wiping the floor; your knees should stay in line with your body and point downward.
  • Do 40 seconds of high knees: Run in place again but exaggerate the motion of driving your knees up towards your belly button.

Quick-100 Abs Set
While you might not have space to spread out a mat for a complete yoga routine, it’s perfectly acceptable to get down on the floor for some core work.

  • Do 25 crunches with legs extended straight overhead.
  • Do 25 crunches with legs in a tabletop position (see “Pulsing Crunch”).
  • Do 25 crunches with your feet placed on the ground with bent knees.
  • Do 25 crunches with the soles of your feet together and knees extended out to the sides in a butterfly position.

What’s the best bodyweight move when you’re tight on time, space, and equipment? “Burpees, of course!” says Rouse. Not only do burpees engage major muscle groups, your blood will get pumping with this cardiovascular move.

Jump Tucks
Using your arms to propel you, jump as high as you can, driving your knees up to your chest. Land softly by keeping your knees slightly bent, says Rouse.

  • Do as many jump tucks as you can in 30 seconds.

Plank Variations
Hold each position for the full count to reap maximum benefits, says Rouse.

  • Hold a straight-arm plank for 60 seconds.
  • Hold a side plank (left side) for 30 seconds; repeat on the right.
  • Hold a supine (ie: reverse) plank for 60 seconds.

Open-Hip Squat
Start with feet just wider than shoulder width, toes pointed slightly out. Get down in a low squat, with your elbows at your knees, and clasp your hands. Shift your weight from heel to heel, staying low the entire time. Then, pushing through your heels, stand up.

  • Once in your low-squat position, shift your weight from side to side as steadily as you can for 45 seconds, focusing on form and stability.

Standing Push-ups
Standing pushups are a handy exercise since you can sneak them in anywhere there’s a wall. Stand with your feet together, keeping your toes behind your shoulders, and “grip” the wall using just the base of your palm and your fingertips. (Don’t use a flat-palm hold as that could strain your wrists.) Lean into the wall and press off, as you would for a normal push-up.

  • Do 20 standing push-ups.

Overhead Shoulder Press with Bicep Curls
Not only do these moves take up minimal space (you gotta stand somewhere!), but most gyms have small equipment up for grabs, even during peak hours. Start with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in both hands at your shoulders. Press your arms straight up, pause, then return to start. From here (and without rest) lower the weights by hinging at the elbows until your arms are straight. Pause, then curl the weights back up to your shoulders. That’s one rep. No dumbbells available? You can also do this move with a resistance band.

  • Do 7 to 10 repetitions, with a brief rest between sets.

Air Jump Rope
Get your blood pumping as you pretend to jump an invisible rope. Move swiftly, staying light on your feet, and don’t worry about jumping very high. Just keep your arms in motion (as if you were holding a rope) to help you stay focused.

  • Perform air jump rope for 40 seconds.

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