Best workouts for a small space

No space or equipment? Want to work out? No problem! In fact, this is an absolute favourite of mine – I love working out using just my own body weight for resistance and conditioning. And the small space means I have all I need at hand and don’t need to clear anything away, move furniture or avoid exercising due to the location I’m in.

The simple below routine is great for exercising in hotel rooms, on an aeroplane or other small spaces. This is fantastic because we are all so time-constrained that any little bit of exercise we can ‘stack’ (do while we are doing something else) is a massive win in my book.

There are so many variations and options depending on where you are and what you are doing. It’s good to have a framework, so here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own small space workout.

Warm your body up

This is super important to avoid muscle strains and injuries as well as prepare the mind for movement. There are many options and the easiest is marching on the spot and swinging your arms for a few mins to get the blood flowing, perhaps followed by some air punching to help get your heart rate up. If you are able, some rope-less skipping is another great option. Anything that moves your body and elevates your heart rate ticks the box.

Choose 2 lower body exercises

These could be squatting (as simple as sitting up and down on a chair or pretend chair), lunges stepping forward and back, or even a side lunge, stepping to the side and back to the middle. Many of my female clients like to include an exercise for the butt, so a lying glute bridge is an excellent option for this. You can do this with both feet on the ground or leave one on the ground and have the other in the air for an exercise that’s more demanding. If you struggle activating or turning your butt on, then a kneeling butt pulse exercise is perfect.  Simply kneel on the ground, hands on your butt and squeeze on and off for 20-30 repetitions to activate this muscle group.

Choose 2 upper body exercises

My favourite for effectiveness and ease is the press up.  It works so many parts of the body and is great for a small space. You can start on your knees, and this is great to perfect your form – keep your abdominals engaged and hands wide apart with elbows out to the sides. If you are keen for some extra effort then go up on to your toes. You can select another type of press up as a second upper body exercise such as a triceps (back of arm) press up, simply by keeping your arms close to your sides or even a staggered arm press up where one hand is slightly more in front of you than the other. 

Another great upper body exercise is tent press ups. Simply bend forward from standing and place your hands on the ground out in front of you where comfortable, then lower your head to the ground by bending your elbows. You could also try air punching towards the ceiling as a great upper body exercise that elevates heart rate as well. Feel free to grab some tin cans or drink bottles as weights to increase the effort of your workout. You could also choose to do wall press ups. Simply face a wall and pop your hands on it in front of you – move your feet back so you are leaning on it, press away from the wall and lower yourself back.

Choose 1 abdominal exercise

This is a great one to end with and my favourite is lying leg raises where you simply lie on your back with your feet facing the ceiling, lower your legs down to the ground and back up.  Be sure to pop your hands under your lower back to help support this area. You could also try a plank lying on the ground face down with elbows on the floor and lift yourself up and hold for 30-45 seconds.

Using the framework and options above, pull together a plan.


  1. 5 mins skipping on the spot to warm-up
  2. 15 x squats
  3. 15 x lunges on each side
  4. 12 x press ups on knees
  5. 30 sec air punching
  6. 30 sec plank hold


Repeat 2-6x for another 2-4 rounds – the faster you go and the less rest in between, the greater the cardio and fat burning effect of your workout.


Lee-Anne Wann is a fitness specialist, nutritionist, presenter and author. She currently runs a health and fitness consultancy business providing companies and organisations with health, nutrition and wellness solutions and content, she also runs a private nutrition practice and was a television host for TVNZ’s ‘Kiwi Living’.