Living Room Fitness

Get your workout without leaving the house.

Some days you just can’t make it to the gym. Your car broke down, the weather is bad, your child is sick, or your trainer is taking a much-needed vacation. Rather than use these as excuses to skip your workout, use them as reasons to try a fitness routine in your own living room. The best exercises to do in a small space and with little to no equipment are bodyweight exercises. You can easily burn calories, work up a sweat, and get a full-body workout using only your bodyweight for resistance.

The next time you’re stuck at home or just want to burn calories while watching your favorite television show, try these bodyweight exercises, alternating between upper body, lower body, and core.

Upper Body

Work your arm, shoulder, and back muscles with simple exercises. The classicpush-up is everyone’s go-to upper body exercise and for good reason. It’s effective and can be adjusted to work different muscles. Beginners may need to start on their hands and knees rather than hands and toes. Remember to keep your back level and your body in a straight line as you lower yourself toward the floor. Variations include widening the placement of your hands or bringing them closer together. You can also try raising one leg at a time while doing push-ups to increase the intensity.

Tricep dips are a great way to work the back of your arms and your shoulders. Sit on the edge of a chair with your hands on the chair next to your body. Place your feet flat on the floor several feet in front of you then move your rear off the seat, lower it toward the floor, and raise back up. Repeat. Move your feet closer to your body or further away to work different muscles.

Lower Body

The two most effective bodyweight exercises that strengthen and tone your leg muscles are the squat and the lunge. To do a simple squat, stand with your feet placed hip-width apart, point your toes out slightly, and keep your arms down by your sides. With your core tight, bend your knees and lower your rear as if you were sitting in a chair. Lower until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor, making sure your knees don’t bend past your toes.

To increase the intensity of a squat, jump up and explode off the floor after reaching the low part of the squat. Straighten your legs then land back in the original position and repeat.

For a super-intense leg workout, try a one-legged squat. You may need to hold onto something for balance. Hold one leg out in front of you, lower into a squat on the other leg, then rise back up.

The second most popular leg exercise is the lunge. Take a large step forward and lower your body until your front leg is at a 90-degree angle and your back leg is bent behind you, knee almost touching the floor. Return to standing position and switch legs.

You can try to do lunges as you walk around the house, alternating legs each step. After a few steps you’ll feel your thighs begin to burn and you’ll know you’re getting an effective workout.

Or for a more intense workout try jumping lunges. Lunge forward on one leg then jump off the floor using your back leg and switch leg positions mid-air. When you land on the floor, lower into another lunge, maintaining body control throughout the movement, and repeat.


To work your upper and lower abdominals, back, and glutes there are two exercises to try out. The plank looks easy, but it can be challenging—especially for the beginner. Lie facedown and lift your body up on your toes and forearms. Keep your entire body in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, and then lower to the floor. Repeat.

Variations of the plank include holding yourself up on your toes and hands or aside plank in which you hold your body in a straight line while balancing on one side of one foot (left foot, for example) and one forearm (if on the left foot, you would also balance on the left forearm).

A second core workout is the superman. Lie facedown and extend your arms above your head. Raise your arms, chest, and legs off the floor at the same time. Hold for a moment. Lower slowly to the floor, and then repeat.
Pick up the intensity with alternating supermans. Raise your right arm and left leg. Then raise your left arm and right leg.