It's the small-space fitness challenge!
May 13, 2014 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I need to develop a balanced daily workout for the next six months, specifically designed for limited and somewhat unusual spaces. Assume I have no access to traditional weights or fitness machines of any kind and that level ground and traditional cardio options will be at a premium. What 10 exercises can I do to approximate a whole-body workout?

It doesn't have to be ten; I just need a clear plan in my head and that may be all I can fit in there...

I'm spending the next six months on a small boat in cold water. I usually like to walk, with occasional jogging or sprinting to raise my heart rate. Are there exercises I can do in place that approximate the walking movements that keep torso, hips and legs well greased? I also like yoga (and may have just enough space to lay a mat outside, albeit on a hard, cold and slightly uneven surface), so you can assume I'm familiar with most poses. I have a collapsible hula hoop and, I think, just enough space to twirl without hitting anything.

There is enough floor space inside (about 2' x 8') to accomplish plank, though at a bit of an incline. I can adapt a handful of yoga poses here, but my outside option will present a more level surface. I could possibly do inclined crunches here if I keep my arms folded against my chest.

We expect to be anchored every night, and so this means I will be able to paddle for up to 30-minute periods in a large inflatable kayak. No swimming; the water is cold. My options ashore will often be steep, wet and rocky, and usually less than 20 yards/meters long. Still, I can imagine doing jumping jacks or lunges here while watching out for bears. Any creative ways to use a paddle for exercises?

I can stretch off and on throughout the day, but I want to aim for a clear daily workout that works all of the major muscle groups--and somehow, sometimes, takes me to a cardio level. Also, I'll usually be wearing bulky clothing with upper layers I can easily shed, and boots that I cannot. I'm completely game to try anything. Are there resources for astronauts, submarine crews, prison inmates? If you are a workout guru, can you prescribe me a basic workout to keep me healthy this summer?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My first thought is Mountain Climbers. They're like running and doing a plank at the same time.
posted by janey47 at 12:33 PM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

Convict Conditioning.
posted by srboisvert at 12:36 PM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's the 7-minute workout, which is intended to work on your entire body in a somewhat cardio-intensive way. Each set is 7 minutes long, but the actual recommendation is to do 3 sets. There's also a bunch of smart-phone apps that will conveniently guide you through the 7-minute workout exercises, complete with timer as well.
posted by comradechu at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Check out Sworkit and its list of exercises - all equipment free. The app has the 7 minute workout built in too.
posted by atlantica at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

A lot of body weight routines to choose from here.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:55 PM on May 13, 2014

I can't speak to some of your restrictions but You Are Your Own Gym is probably the most popular bodyweight book on the market.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:14 PM on May 13, 2014

I can't speak to some of your restrictions but You Are Your Own Gym is probably the most popular bodyweight book on the market.

This is a really misleading program. I bought the app and it requires poles, chairs you can use for dips, towels and doorknobs, and a table or desk sturdy enough and balanced so you can use it for pullups. It is also hard to sort out without the book.
posted by srboisvert at 4:34 PM on May 13, 2014

Buy a kettlebell and do some swings. Jump roping for cardio works pretty well. Burpees too.
posted by astapasta24 at 8:21 PM on May 13, 2014

7-Minute Workout.
posted by Dansaman at 10:31 PM on May 13, 2014

Best answer: Just off the top of my head:

Push-ups: Regular, diamond, wide-arm, one-arm, handstand.

Squats: Regular, weighted (with whatever you've got), pistol squats.

Lunges: walking, reverse, weighted, jumping.

Jumps: onto your bunk, maybe, or just as high as you can go. Can you jump rope?

Core: Planks, mountain climbers, L- and V-sits, crow stance.

If there's anything to hang yourself from you could do pull-ups or variations thereof, hanging leg raise/v-up/etcetera. Tables/chairs (edge of your bunk?) are good for dips.
posted by Urban Winter at 10:45 AM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Really great responses, thanks! I like the Sworkit options a LOT. Will have to see if it still works in airplane mode, because I won't have connectivity. Mountain climbers are very possible in my narrow floor space. Burpees could be great, but only doable outside. Otherwise we have no furniture or places to do dips or pull-ups or to jump rope. I imagine many of these when done on a moving boat could have additional perks for the core as long as I don't lose my balance in rolly waters. It may prove to be more of a comedy routine than a workout!

All in all I have a bunch of good ideas, thanks!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 1:41 AM on May 15, 2014

Best answer: Seconding: Jumping lunges, burpees, and mountain climbers can all be done in a small space and work your legs. Plank jacks (doing a plank while kicking out your legs to the sides and back again) will also kick your ass in a small space. If you bring something to use as a Tabata timer (millions of phone apps) you can get a serious workout in 30 mins that will leave you dripping with sweat.
posted by benzenedream at 11:58 PM on May 15, 2014

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