Favorite non-gym exercises?
April 19, 2014 6:44 PM   Subscribe

What exercises do you love that don't require a gym membership or large expenses? I'm looking for suggestions that are affordable and easily do-able for an apartment dweller.
posted by glaucon to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 132 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i've been doing simplefit for a few months and love it. only need a pull-up bar; it's all bodyweight exercises.
posted by raihan_ at 6:48 PM on April 19, 2014 [17 favorites]

Can you expand on what your idea of affordable is?

A bicycle.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:49 PM on April 19, 2014

Lately I've been doing some core strengthening exercises on the advice of my physiotherapist (I injured my back a couple months ago). I do "bird dogs" and "planks" right now. Neither need much room nor any equipment other than the floor.
posted by cranberrymonger at 6:50 PM on April 19, 2014

Best answer: HIIT - multiple sets
posted by pyro979 at 6:53 PM on April 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

TRX bands and their ilk can be inexpensive and apartment/small park friendly.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:54 PM on April 19, 2014

Best answer: There are whole insane varieties of body weight exercises. Pushups (widearm, shoulder width, diamond), decline pushups, planks, elbow planks, side planks, side plank leg lifts, situps, crunches, supine bicycle, alternating crunches, flutter kicks, scissor kicks, body weight squats, lunges, shoulder presses, on and on.

This is a good book for bodyweight exercises and has workout programs in it as well.
posted by kavasa at 7:02 PM on April 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

Doorway pullup bars are great and cost ~$30. You can do all sorts of pullup variants, leg lifts, and hang gymnastic rings from them and do dips. I even hang a punching bag from mine sometimes. Best piece of exercise equipment I've ever bought.

Pushups are great too, and besides the standard one you can also do close pushups, clapping pushups, one-armed pushups...

Handstand pushups against a wall (or freestanding if you can do it) are a great exercise, and all you need is some floor space and a wall.

I use the book Convict Conditioning and it has progressions for all of the main bodyweight exercises. I managed to put a good amount of muscle onto my frame over a few months just with the bodyweight exercises in that book and eating a lot.
posted by pravit at 7:10 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Body weight exercises, free weights, and weighted sports hoop.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:17 PM on April 19, 2014

Exercise DVDs are inexpensive when you consider that after a one-time investment of $25 or so, you can do the same one as many times as you like. I have yoga, dance and aerobic videos.
posted by orange swan at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of hula hooping. I bought this hula hoop off of Amazon. (I know the description says it's for a child but it's a perfectly fine size for me, as a petite female. Also it was cheaper than the adult sized hula hoops.)

Jump roping is another good option, although I would go ahead and invest $10 to $15 dollars in a decent exercise jump rope.

If you're interested in doing yoga, I've used this DVD, and I really like it. It gives you a good range of exercise routines including differing levels of difficulty and time commitment, and it's cheap.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:26 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Grab your sledgehammer and start shovelgloving!
posted by thejoshu at 7:29 PM on April 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I could do them, burpees, squat jumps, jumping jacks & jumping rope, Turkish getups. Any kind of martial arts conditioning workout. Can still do kicks (fast, slow, high, all directions, combined with squats or lunges), and sometimes step-ups. There was a fad for 'Spartacus' workouts, I liked those - high intensity bodyweight workouts with low-weight dumbbells, same sweat with less impact. (Mind you, I can now do very few of those things now because I hurt myself loads; suggest minimizing impact but ymmv. I have to say the jumpiest things are the most fun.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:48 PM on April 19, 2014

orange swan: "Exercise DVDs are inexpensive when you consider that after a one-time investment of $25 or so"

Even cheaper! There are always people guilt-selling them used on amazon and half.com and elsewhere. I really like this MTV Yoga one that's several years old (it's strenuous for yoga, very aerobic as yoga goes). I have a lot of yoga, pilates, and dance DVDs, all of which are pretty easy to do in a small space, all of which you can pick up used for a couple of bucks. (Also check Goodwill type places.) There are tons and tons of lists of favorite workout videos online and people review them pretty thoroughly, so you usually have a pretty good idea of whether you'll like it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:55 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One page workouts
posted by maggieb at 8:02 PM on April 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

squats, push-ups, pull-ups, pistol squats, burpees (brutal! ... see how many you can do in 5 min ... or see how long it takes you to do 50), turkish getups, goblet squats.

Many of these you can be made much more intense with Tabata interval training.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2014

Does your apartment complex have stairs? Run up and down the stairs.
posted by KathrynT at 8:39 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Inevitably someone will link to the NY Times workout. I did it a couple of times when traveling and found it to be a good full body HIIT workout.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:22 PM on April 19, 2014

running, biking, climbing trees in the park
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:16 PM on April 19, 2014

The NY Times workout is good but should more correctly be referred to as The 7-Minute Workout. You can find many free smartphone apps for this workout that help you time yourself.
posted by Dansaman at 10:21 PM on April 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Periodic Table of Bodyweight Exercises has lots of exercises which require no equipment. It also has links to short instructional videos.
posted by neilb449 at 10:42 PM on April 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I do these, which require no equipment (though I use a yoga mat) and the workout is insane:

Neila Rey abs of steel workout

100 push-ups

Plus, running a few days a week. No weights, no gym, intense workouts.
posted by univac at 11:43 PM on April 19, 2014

I like this video, which walks you through the 7 Minute Workout in real time. All you need is a laptop, some floor space, and a chair.
posted by theodolite at 12:48 AM on April 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The You Are Your Own Gym app is good, and oft-recommended on here.
posted by penguin pie at 2:18 AM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I like this site's bodyweight routine:


It's based of the reddit bodyweightfitness FAQ, and it gives you all a complete workout with progressions for all the exercises, plus YouTube videos demonstrating each one.
posted by Diablevert at 3:47 AM on April 20, 2014

I like running and yoga, both at the park (though I live in a climate that makes this easy). Exercise outside- especially in green spaces- has been proven better for mental health than exercise inside.
posted by three_red_balloons at 4:32 AM on April 20, 2014

My routine: jumping jacks, pull ups, chin ups, push ups, and planks, small sets done whenever I feel myself getting sleepy, irritable, or otherwise lacking focus.
posted by jwhite1979 at 7:11 AM on April 20, 2014

Nike Training Club is a great smartphone app with a huge number of body weight exercise routines along with a pleasant woman's voice telling you when to do what and videos showing you how to do the exercises. Perfect for apartments/the park!
posted by LeeLanded at 7:29 AM on April 20, 2014

I'm a runner, but I also like the Jillian Michaels yoga DVDs. Those workouts are great.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:30 AM on April 20, 2014

I prefer running to most indoor exercises, since I get to look around and breathe fresh air and don't have to remember what set I'm on. Bodyweight exercises are still worth it, though: they're often far more efficient and can be done anywhere in any weather. I really like jump rope, but unless you have high ceilings and a good amount of empty space in your apartment, you'll need to take it outside.

Keep in mind that if you have downstairs neighbors, some of the jumpier exercises like burpees and mountain climbers can sound pretty stompy. Don't do them during quiet hours, and consider getting a mat to help muffle the sound.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:44 AM on April 20, 2014

I generally do a gymnastics conditioning workout that is all bodyweight. These are the more apartment friendly things:

core: crunches, v-sits, slow leg raises, plank, rocking dish, stars, side planks

arms: wall handstands, wall handstand pushups, narrow pushups, wide pushups, chair dips

legs: pistols, squats, mountain climbers, side leg raises, back leg raises, ballet kicks, lunges (forward, backward, side)
posted by Nothing at 8:19 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Street Stretch
posted by any major dude at 9:12 AM on April 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm quite fond of the Lifeline TNT cable system; provides a lot of options and a good workout. I bought mine at Sports Authority in a box set that included the DVD, which is extremely helpful.
posted by Kat Allison at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2014

IANA Physical Trainer but I've helped a few friends get started on workout plans and led small groups during various little challenges and the like.

My personal favorite work out when I lived in barracks was to go up and down the fire-escape, six laps, drop and do forty pushups, repeat laps, forty situps, repeat -> 30, repeat ->20 oh god im gonna die last set and when you do your ten push-ups and sit-ups you have to do them as slow as humanly possible.

Once a week, go find a playground or something and do climbing drills. As much as Street Stretch made me smile, part of that's because I've worked on that level before.

It might also help to have some kind of idea what you've got going for you currently(Fitness level, anything you might need to avoid) and what you're expecting to get out of it.

You'd think conventional wisdom would tell you that if you're just getting back on the horse OR you have a bad knee OR have recently gained a lot of weight, etc. that starting off with heavy duty plyometrics(jump training), lots of burpees, squats, etc. would be a terrible idea. You'd be surprised though.
posted by ThrowbackDave at 2:34 PM on April 20, 2014

Go for a run or walk outside! It's a whole new way of viewing your neighborhood!
posted by floweredfish at 7:03 PM on April 20, 2014

Best answer: I'm really enjoying Fitness Blender. It's free work out videos and you can search by difficulty, length and whether a routine needs any equipment. There's no music in the videos so you can pump up your own jams. There's usually one or two commercials but you can skip them quickly and one usually falls at water break time. They vary from yoga to cardio to strength training and many combine cardio intervals with bodyweight exercises.
posted by purple_bird at 10:41 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I personally recommend the book called You Are Your Own Gym by Mark Lauren (or the app). Also, check out /r/bodyweightfitness on reddit. Apart from YAYOG, the books they most often recommend there are:
  • Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade
  • Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low
  • Building the Gymnastyc Body by Christopher Sommer
  • Never Gymless by Ross Emanait
They also have some pre-made programs listed in the FAQ. Browse through that subreddit, and you'll find lots of useful stuff. This website is pretty cool, too.
posted by _Seeker_ at 4:29 PM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The 7-minute workout was designed to fit your needs -- a total body workout that can be completed in your apartment.

I've found it to be pretty effective on its own, even though as the blue has discussed, you're supposed to do it 3 times, making it a 21-minute workout.
posted by tinymegalo at 1:27 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a big fan of a solid ab workout and my favorite is Laird Hamilton's Ab routine * FREE *

Add some pushups/planks/burpees * FREE *, and you have workout.
  • Paul Chek's book: 'How to Eat, Move and be Healthy!' is are very informative
  • List of Exercises * FREE *: Mountain Athlete's Extensive list of videos demonstrating exercises
Sprinkle in Some Yoga: 'Yoga Studio' app is one of the best!

Suggested Gear:
  • Bands
  • Dumbells
  • Yoga Mat or Foam Mat (used for Stretching and ab routine)
  • Refer here for plenty of workout gear hacks (Ross Enamait - under Equipment Based Articles)

posted by ollo at 3:47 PM on May 5, 2014

I started out with the Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight Workout, and enjoyed that.

Currently I'm doing a bodyweight version of The 40 Day Workout. Increases are not as significant as the Nerd Fitness workout, but I'm going slow since I'm recovering from a knee injury. But it's simple, short (5 minutes? maybe?) and because of all that I actually do it daily.

I also combine it with Tim Ferriss's core exercises from The 4-Hour Body (planks, bird dogs, hip bridges, psoas stretch) - again, that takes not even 5 minutes. And I'm seeing some ab definition now, which is lovely.

After the 40 Day workout ends, I'm looking at focusing on just kettlebells with swings and Turkish getups. An all body workout in one exercise? That's my idea of simplicity.

I've been able to do all of these exercises in my living room and the only cost was the 20# kettlebell ($30-50 at Target).
posted by sazanka at 8:55 AM on May 8, 2014

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