10 bodyweight exercises you can do in your dorm room
Plenty of colleges have Fitness facilities available to all students on campus. An on-campus gym is a great tool that you can use to maintain your health and fitness while away at school.
But let's be honest, if you're not participating in a varsity sport, with class, homework, clubs and then of course maintaining some semblance of a social life, you might find that it's hard to fit fitness into your on-campus schedule.
Even if you won't have time to make it to the gym most days, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you're still getting enough exercise once class is in session.
Bodyweight exercises are an excellent alternative to strength training with weights at a gym. The idea is to build strength and muscle by performing exercises that leverage the weight of, you guessed it, your own body as resistance.
The following ten bodyweight exercises were recommended as dorm-room-friendly by Will Owen, a fitness blogger who writes about how to stay fit while you travel (bodyweight exercises are a specialty of his) at TravelStrong.net.
Owen likes this move for warming up and activating the core. Begin standing tall, feet about hip-width distance apart and legs straight. Bend over folding at your hips so that you can place your hands on the floor about a foot, to a foot and half in front of you (you can bend your knees a bit if you need to). Slowly lower your body towards the floor by walking your hands forward, eventually ending up in a high-plank position. From here, walk your feet towards your hands, keeping your legs as straight as possible. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Start standing tall with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Make sure that your feet are planted firmly on the ground. When you’re ready, slowly start to squat down, as if you were about to sit down in a chair behind you. Focus on pushing your hips back and keeping your torso upright. As you squat down you want to make sure that your chest stays lifted and that you do not fold forward at the hips. Also make sure that your knees stay in line with your ankles and to sit back into your heels. Your entire foot should stay firmly planted on the ground; make sure that your heels do not lift up off the floor. Pause for a moment in the squat position before you push through your feet and glutes to slowly stand back up to the starting position. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
More: A step by step guide to proper form when doing squats
Bulgarian split squat
Owen notes that this is an efficient lower-body exercise, but that it can also be tricky to master, so make sure to practice good form. Start by standing with your back to a raised surface, like a step stool or a sturdy pile of books. Place your right foot behind you on top of the surface, toes curled under so that your shoe laces are facing downward. Keep your core tight and your torso tall as you lower down into a lunge position (as pictured to the left), making sure that your left knee never moves past your left toes. Lower down until the knee of your right leg lightly brushes the floor, then push back up to the starting position. Repeat the sequence for three sets 8 to 12 repetitions on each leg.
Start lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor so that your knees form 90-degree angles. Place your arms next to you, straight so that your hands are at your sides. Use your glutes to push through your heels and lift your hips up off the floor as high as possible. Pause at the top for a moment and then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. (Make this exercise more difficult by extending one leg straight so that it is lifted off of the floor, performing three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each leg.)
More: 4 Bridge Exercises for Stronger Glutes
Single-leg Romanian deadlift
“This one’s not as complicated as it sounds,” says Owen.
Start standing tall with your feet about hip-width distance apart. Allow for a micro-bend in your right knee as you fold forward at your hips, lowering your arms and torso towards the floor until your torso is parallel with the ground. Allow your left leg to raise off the ground and kick back behind you. Use your glutes and hamstrings to return to the starting position by raising your torso and lowering your back leg back to the floor. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions on each leg.
If you're not ready to do a basic push-up, start by performing this exercise on an elevated surface (as pictured to the left) to make it easier. The higher the surface, the easier the exercise will be. Begin in the high-plank position, forming a straight line from your head to your heels. Keep your neck straight by looking slightly ahead and your core tight by drawing your belly button into your spine. Make sure to never let your hips drop towards the floor or to push your butt up into the air. In the starting position your arms should be straight and steadily supporting your weight. Slowly lower your chest towards the floor until your elbows form 90-degree angles or your chest touches the floor. Pause for a moment in the downward position before pushing yourself back up into the starting position. Make sure to maintain the straight line from your head to your heels on your way back up, too. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
More: A step by step guide to proper form when doing a push-up
Once you’ve mastered the basic push-up, there are several different variations you can do to make this exercise more challenging. Owen recommends diamond push-ups or you can add a new level of difficulty by performing the exercise on a decline (as pictured to the left) with your feet placed on an elevated surface like a chair, step stool or sturdy stack of books. Repeat the variation for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
More: 5 Absurdly Difficult Push-ups
This is another push-up variation that will allow you to build considerable upper body strength. Start in push-up position with your feet on an elevated surface. Walk your hands back a bit and lift your hips as high as possible. Bend your elbows to lower your body towards the ground. Push yourself back up to the starting position. Repeat the sequence for three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. (You can make this exercise more difficult by elevating one leg in the air, as pictured to the left. Do not attempt to use an unstable surface like the stability ball until you have mastered this exercise with a stable surface first.)
Lie flat on your back with your legs lifted off of the floor, hips and knees bent at 90-degree angles. Lift your arms up so that your fingertips point towards the ceiling. Lower your right arm towards the ground behind your head as you slowly extend your left leg out straight until it’s hovering just above the ground. Pause for a moment before returning to the starting position and doing the same with your left arm and right leg. Repeat for three sets of 10 to 20 repetitions.