Yay! I get to talk about exercising in my favorite place: anywhere that isn’t the gym. I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to really hate going to the gym. They’re loud, the people are big and kinda scary, it was a generally frightening place for me to be. That’s changed in recent months but, before then, I really hated. So in order for me to lose 15 pounds in my first semester, I was doing a lot of in dorm exercises. These are easily the greatest 6 exercises that I have used and continue to use in my own workouts (plus links to videos to see how they’re done).
1// Bodyweight Squat
Leg days are the best days and this is easily one of my favorite leg day exercises. It’s a quick way to build strong quads, hips, and glutes depending on the variation. And, even better, it effectively works almost every muscle group in your body.
The easiest way to learn to squat is by using a chair and doing the motion of sitting on it. Stand with your feet between hip and shoulder width apart. Stick your butt out to where you feel like you might fall over. Then bend your knees to act as a counter weight. Lower down until your butt just touches the chair and then come back. Come up in a slow and controlled motion to keep the tension in your muscles for a longer time. At the top, squeeze your glutes together with a slight hip thrust to really get the most out of your squat.
Remember: Keep your spine neutral, don’t let it bow up or down and don’t let your neck out of alignment. Keep your knees in line with your toes, preferably a little behind them. Only go down as far as you’re comfortable. You want to feel it on the way up but it shouldn’t cause you pain. And the most important: if there’s any sharp pain at any times, STOP immediately. This is true for any and every exercise.
2// Jump Squats
To bump up the difficulty of the regular bodyweight squat is this cardio variation. Jump squats are a pain in the best possible way, except if you have bad knees. If you have a current knee injury, seriously avoid this one. And don’t do this exercise if you haven’t mastered the bodyweight squat.
To do a jump squat, follow the same beginning steps to do a regular squat. However, instead of coming up slowly, push up through the balls of your feet and jump. Land flat on your feet and immediately go into another squat.
Remember: Land softly on your feet with your knees bent to avoid knee injury. Make sure your squat form is still excellent. If you can’t maintain good form, just raise up on your toes to get most of the benefits without the pain.
I honestly don’t know anyone who truthfully likes these. But, it’s impossible to deny how effective they are at targeting every major muscle group.
I feel like everyone’s done this at one point or another in their life. But if you haven’t, let me tell you about this exercise. It’s basically a combination of a push up followed by a deep jump squat. I recommend starting in a push up position. Do a regular pushup then jump your feet up towards your hands, landing in deep squat. Then push up through your legs and jump up, raising your hands up to the air – basically a jump squat. Land softly and place your hands flat on the floor, returning to a deep squat. Jump your feet back and lower into a push up. It should be a very fluid and continuous motion to get the most out of this exercise.
Remember: Don’t let your back dip as you go into your push up. This is especially common the further you get in your set because your tired. Stay focused and maintain good form to avoid injury. And, equally importantly, it forces you to contract your abs to make sure your working that muscle group.
If the complete burpee is too much at the moment, you can make it a little easier by getting rid of the pushup like they do in this video. And to make it truly low impact, replace the jump at the end of the movement by raising up on your tippy toes. Or remove it all together like this one.
4// Bicycle Crunches
These work your entire abdominal section and the inner thigh muscles. The first several are pretty smooth sailing, but after a few reps you’ll definitely be feeling the burn.
Start on your back with your knees at 90 degrees. Lift your head, shoulders, and upper back with your hands behind your head. At the same time: bring your right elbow to your left knee while you straighten your right leg out in front of you. Then bring yourself back to the neutral position and, without stopping, do the same on the opposite side- left elbow to right knee. That’s one complete rep.
Remember: Breathe! It’s so easy to hold your breath with this exercise but it’s much more difficult and more effective when you breathe in a controlled motion. Keep your elbows out perpendicular to your head, don’t let them squeeze your ears. This will force you to really twist your abs and work your obliques.
5// Tricep Dips
If you’ve got bat wings or flabby underarms, this is the exercise for you. This is one of those exercises that can seriously hurt you if you don’t do it correctly. So if there’s any pain, stop immediately.
Typically this exercises is done on a bench, but it can also be done on the floor. Sit on the floor, knees bent with your hands behind you, fingers pointed towards your butt. Some people say to push your heels into the floor with your toes flexed upwards, but others (myself included) like to keep my feet firmly on the floor. Then you’re going to lift your butt off the ground, making your arms straight. This is your starting position. From here, bend your elbows until you just barely touch the floor and then come back up. That’s one rep.
Remember: When you’re coming down, your elbows should go straight back, not out to the side. Also, make sure you’re actually bending your elbows rather than lifting and lowering your hips to actually complete this exercise. If you don’t, you’re not working your triceps plus it’ll look like you’re humping the air. And lastly, engage that core. Clench your abdominal muscles to get an additional ab workout too.
6// Leg Lifts
This is probably one of the most misleading exercises. It sounds like it’s supposed to be working your legs, right? It doesn’t.
It’s actually an excellent ab workout that targets the lower abs, aka the belly pouch. And fortunately, it’s a simple exercise that packs a lot of punch.
Lay flat on your back, legs straight up. You can have a slight bend in your knees depending on how flexible your hamstrings are. From here, lower your legs slowly until there 3 or 4 inches above the ground and hover for a moment. Then slowly come back up.
Remember: Breathe! Ab exercises are a million times more effective and difficult if you breathe through them. If this exercise hurts your back, place your hands, palms down, under your lower back to give it some support. As you build strength, keep your hands by your side.
These are the 6 exercises that I believe really helped me lose weight so quickly. What I really like about the majority of these exercises is that they’re effective at targeting multiple muscle groups which translates to better muscle building in combination with quick and sustainable weight loss. Using these exercises in combination with healthy eating, weight loss and muscle building are attainable all while living in your dorm.
What are your favorite exercises to do in your dorm?