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The 15-Minute Dorm Room Workout

Even if you're living in a tiny space, you can get in a good workout without going outside. Here, 7 moves you can do in your dorm room.

Dorm Room Workouts

There’s expert advice, and then there’s reality. And for college students, the struggle is very real.

Stay away from fatty foods and empty calories? Easy to say when those “experts” don’t have to pick from the often—ahem—limited choices at the dining hall.

Eight hours of sleep is ideal? Ha! When’s the last time they had midterms?

We know we’re supposed to exercise—some experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days per week. But that doesn’t always jibe with the reality of time and space. Classes and studying can take up to 60 hours a week, and we’re often sharing dorm rooms that are less than 200 square feet in size.

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For that one, we’ve got some good news: It’s extraordinarily easy to get a good workout in a tight space in your limited spare time if you can’t get to the gym. So says Pete McCall, a certified personal trainer, adjunct professor in exercise science at San Diego Mesa College, and host of the All About Fitness podcast.

“All you need is a space about the size of a piece of plywood—4 feet by 8 feet—to get a decent body weight and light cardio workout in,” he says. “Even if you’ve only got 20 minutes to spare, there are some very simple routines you can do to keep [yourself] functioning.”

Indeed, exercise isn’t just about staying fit. Studies show it has a number of student-centric benefits, like improving your memory, increasing your focus, and reducing stress and anxiety.

Course Hero has put together a simple, 7-move circuit workout you can do in the comfort of your dorm room without disturbing your roommate. Just follow the routine below in 1-minute intervals: Do each move for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds, and move on to the next move.

“Challenge yourself to repeat the whole circuit as many times as you can over 20–30 minutes,” says McCall. “This workout is perfect if you’re short on time—if you’re swamped, even a little action is better than none at all.”

Here’s the lowdown. (Watch the video above to see each of these moves in action.)

1. Bicycles

Lie on your back and alternate bringing your elbow to the opposite knee in slow, controlled motions. Make sure you rotate from your shoulders, and relax your neck so you’re not straining.
Muscles activated: abs and obliques; also great cardio

2. Sit-ups with one-two punch

Power up a traditional sit-up with a simple punch combo. Again, make sure you’re rotating your shoulders, and reach across your body. For an extra challenge, add some light hand weights.
Muscles activated: abs and obliques; also great cardio

3. Decline push-ups

Start from a higher surface, like a bed, for an extended push-up. Squeeze your quads and glutes to stabilize your spine, then press your hands down as if you’re squeezing the ground—that will give you added core activation as you work arm muscles such as your biceps and triceps.
Muscles activated: pecs, delts, triceps, and core

4. Tricep dips

Another move in which you can use your bed for support. Carefully lower yourself to engage your core. The further apart your feet are, the harder you’ll work. Move your feet closer together to reduce resistance.
Muscles activated: triceps, lats, and core

5. Front squats

Maintain good form by pushing your butt behind you. Press your feet into the ground when you return to a standing position. Make sure you keep your chest open and your spine as long as you can. Grasp a weighted backpack for an extra challenge.
Muscles activated: quads, hamstrings, adductors, and glutes

6. Spiderman push-ups

Another tweak on a classic. While completing a push-up motion, flex your right leg while bringing your left knee out at a 90-degree angle. Then do the same on the other side. Rotate your hands to press into the ground to create stability in your shoulders. Wear a weighted backpack for some extra resistance.
Muscles activated: pecs, delts, triceps, obliques, hip flexors, and core

7. High knee sprint

While running in place, bring each knee up—above your waistline if you can—and swing your opposite arm behind you, driving your elbow backward.
Muscles activated: core, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductors; also great cardio

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