You’re fully capable of doing the kind of workouts that leave you sputtering and spent on the floor—the kind that leads to real results—without the gym. Even if you live in an apartment that can fit in most people’s garages. Looking at you, New York City studio apartment-dwellers.
Natalie Rado McClure, C.P.T. (NASM), would know: She was a traveling trainer in New York City for nine years, where she worked one-on-one with clients in their tiny apartments. Below, she’s curated four workouts for practically anywhere.
From supersets to Tabata to circuits, these plans are designed to help you melt away fat and build muscle and endurance in the privacy of your home (even if it’s tiny). Each workout can be repeated or combined with others in the series to build your transformation plan. Just be sure to always begin with 2-3 minutes of jumping jacks, high knees, or dynamic stretching to get warmed up, and never skip out on a cool down.
Workout #1: The superset workout
Looking to work your entire body in one go? This 40-minute superset workout will hit every spot, with each set targeting a different major muscle group. After each four-exercise set, you can take a 30-60 second break. If you want to add a bigger cardio challenge, skip it.
SUPERSET 1: Complete 2 sets
Flyes with hips in a bridge: Lie on your back and push your hips to the ceiling, keeping knees hip-width apart, not letting your IT Bands flare your knees out to the sides. Use weights that you can keep under control so you maintain proper form throughout. Perform 12 reps.
Bicycle crunches: Aim to get your elbow to your knee and twist from the core. Continue motion for 30 seconds.
Slow pushups: Come down for four counts, then up for two. If you can’t control this motion, don’t hesitate to modify by dropping your knees to the floor. Do 15 reps.
Rollups: Start by lying down on the mat with your legs extended out and arms overhead. Inhale; then, as you peel yourself off the mat, exhale, rolling up one vertebrae at a time. Draw your belly button in and away from your spine. Reach for your toes, inhale to reset the movement, then roll down. Complete five reps.
SUPERSET 2: Complete 2 sets
Plank rotators: Start in a pushup position. Move to a high side plank, back to pushup position, then to a high side plank on the opposite arm. Do 10-12 reps.
Squats: Hold two dumbbells in your hands. Make sure to keep your weight in your heels, not your toes. You can pull your toes up to the inside of your shoes to make sure you aren’t letting your weight fall forward in this position. Try to keep your back flat, feet hip-width apart, big toes parallel, and gaze forward, not to the floor. Perform 12-15 reps.
Balance shoulder press: Shoulder press while balancing on one leg. Keep the weights fairly low. Complete 10 reps per leg.
Split squat: Holding two dumbbells, stagger your feet—front foot flat, back heel up. Put most of your weight in your front foot and bend both knees. Keep your weight in your heels. Perform 12-15 reps
SUPERSET 3: Complete 2 sets
Plank knee pulls: Start in a pushup position. Tuck your right knee to your left elbow, crossing your body, then bring your left knee to your right elbow, crossing your body. Do 10 reps on each side.
Reverse flyes: Holding two dumbbells in your hands, soften your knees, and bend at the waist so your torso is somewhat parallel to the floor. “Fly” both hands up toward the ceiling, really pulling your shoulder blades together, thinking of trying to hold a pencil between them as you contract. Perform 12 reps, taking your time; don’t speed through the movement.
Standing bicep curls: While balancing on one leg, perform 10 curls per side.
Walking planks: Start in a high plank. Walk down to a plank on your forearms, then push up back into a plank. 10 reps.
Workout #2: The ladder workout
You might think that with just four exercises and no equipment, this would be a good workout to save for an easy day. You’d be wrong.
Start with 16 reps of each exercise, then to 14, 12, 10, 8, 6. It may sound manageable enough, but here’s the catch: You won’t be taking a single break. Twenty to 30 minutes later, you’ll definitely be feeling it. For a challenge, finish it off with a bonus round of another 16 reps. No matter what, be sure to foam roll at the end—skip out and you’ll regret it tomorrow.
1) Squat thrusts/burpees
2) Tick-tock lunges: Lunge forward and then, if you can, lunge backward on the same leg without stopping in the middle to touch the floor with your foot so it becomes a balance challenge as well. One rep is a forward and backward movement. If you were on the 16 reps, you would perform eight on the right leg, then eight on the left.
3) Mountain climbers: One rep is both knees coming up to the chest.
Workout #3: The Tabata workout
HIIT—high-intensity interval training—is the ultimate fat-burning workout. Whether you’re looking to recover from a few days off the diet train or trying to kickstart your weight-loss goal, this is the workout for you. The Tabata method alternates 20 seconds of work (the hardest you can go) with 10 seconds of rest, for eight sets. This comes out to a total of four minutes. Take no more than 30-90 seconds of rest in between each round. At the end, be sure to do some stretching or foam rolling to loosen up.
Download a free Tabata timer on your smartphone to keep you focused and on-task through this killer workout.
1) Front plank: If you feel your form start to slip, do this on your knees. Make sure to squeeze every muscle as tight as you can, pulling your belly button in and away from your spine. Don’t let your hips hike up.
2) Kettlebell swings: You don’t need a kettlebell for this one. You can just use a dumbbell, vertically, and swing it.
3) Lateral hops: With both feet together, jump over an imaginary line or an actual line on the floor if you’ve got one. Try to keep your feet as close together as possible and try to keep the jump as small as possible.
4) Hand walks: From standing, hinge at the hips and roll down one vertebrae at a time, controlled but quick, to the floor. Walk out to a plank position, then walk back to your feet, rolling up to the start.
5) Side planks: Lie on your right side, on your right forearm. Simultaneously push your hips and raise your left hand toward the ceiling. Hold. For a bigger challenge, raise that left leg up and hold. Then, switch sides.
6) Jumping jacks
7) Reverse lunges: Hold dumbbells in your hands for more of a challenge and a bigger calorie burn.
8) Russian twists: Sit and hold one dumbbell in both hands, and twist from left to right. If balancing your heels off the floor seems like too much, just connect your heels to the floor for more support.
Workout #4: Alternating cardio and weight circuit
This is the most flexible workout in the series. It’s a circuit of 10 exercises you’ll perform for 30 seconds each, 2-3 sets through. If you’re looking for an intense cardio burn, take it at a pace similar to the Tabata workout. If you’re trying to focus on strength alone, feel free to take it slow, moving consciously through the positions to build up strength. Modify to fit your needs, but no matter how you do it, be sure to cool down after.
1) Standing overhead shoulder press: Balance on one leg for a bigger challenge.
2) Butt kickers: Like you’re jogging in place but kick your butt with your heels.
3) Plank row: In a pushup position, grasp two dumbbells on the floor. Alternately row them, bringing your right elbow up to the ceiling, then the left.
4) Mountain climbers
5) Lateral lunges with dumbbells: Step out to the right with the right foot (really wide), bend the right knee while keeping the left leg straight and frame your right bent leg with the dumbbells. Come back to start and repeat on the left leg.
6) Squat jumps
8) Pushup jacks: In a pushup position, jump your feet out and in like you are doing a jumping jack but on the floor.
9) Superman: Lie on your stomach, hold a 3lb-5lb weight in both hands, lift your chest, arms, and legs off the floor and hold for two seconds, then release to the floor, repeat.
10) High knees