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Working out in your dorm room : A Comprehensive Guide

Working out in your dorm room : A Comprehensive Guide


Healthy minds and healthy bodies go together like avocado and every food on the planet. Make sure that running ‘late’ isn’t the only form of cardio that you get on a daily basis. The more you train your body, the easier it is to train your brain. Frequent exercise may be an effective way to alleviate depression, it may make you more resilient to stress, and and it’s even associated with higher academic achievement. Not one for the campus gym? Sweat it out elsewhere. Working out in a dorm room can be equally as effective, notwithstanding a few challenges:

Why working out in a dorm room is so difficult

Minimal Equipment

Most dorms probably won’t allow you to modify your room’s basic infrastructure, so forget about nailing a pull-up bar to your door. Whether you live in a shared space or not, equipment can cause a lot of clutter. In addition to having all of your textbooks, cue cards, laundry, and snacks lying around, you won’t have tons of room for much else.

Minimal Space

Dorm rooms are small. Tiny, even. Even without equipment, several dorm rooms bear greater semblance to tiny cupboards under the stairs. Average secondary bedroom sizes range anywhere from 100 to 200 square feet. Chances are that your living quarters are way smaller. This makes exercise difficult (but not impossible), as several forms of exercise require space. How ought you to do walking lunges when you’re barely able to walk more than 5 paces between your front door and your bed?


Older dorms tend to have older floors, which means that plyometric exercises won’t be friendly to your downstairs neighbors. You might need to take your roommate’s schedule into consideration as well— you’d be hard-pressed to find a roomie who will enjoy studying while listening to you groan about your fifth set of burpees.


Why working out in a dorm room is possible

General Pointers : getting started

Working out in your dorm room : a checklist of basic pointers to get you started // The PumpUp Blog

Schedule your workout time

Your time is precious. There will always be one more chapter to push through, one more paragraph to write, and one more meeting or conference to attend. Don’t put exercise on the back-burner. Working out every single day might not be realistic for you, so set a target for yourself (a number of minutes of exercise each week). Carve out a few time slots for exercise, write them in your calendar with pen, and set a phone alarm for yourself so that you don’t forget. Treat each workout as a deadline or an important meeting that you scheduled with yourself: bosses don’t cancel.

Change your mindset

Try not to associate exercise with the same kind of dread that you reserve for chores like taking out the garbage or cleaning out your toilet bowl. View your workout as an act of self-care. It’s difficult to exercise when it’s something that you have to do or should be doing, but it’s easy when it’s something that you want to do or get to be doing.

Invest in light pieces of equipment

A pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell can go a long way as far as dorm room workouts are concerned. Provided that you don’t drop them on the floor like an anvil in a Warner Bros. cartoon, free weights will help you to gradually build strength with relative ease and silence. You may want to get a yoga mat, too. It’s portable, collapsable, and it will prove useful for stress-relieving stretches and pilates moves. When your muscles are really sore, it's useful to have a mini foam roller to diffuse tension and stimulate blood flow to the areas where you feeling pain.

Get creative with furniture and household objects

Turn heavy textbooks and dictionaries into substitutes for weights. They’re especially handy when you’re doing weighted squats or deadlifts. Load your books into heavy-duty shopping bags when you need to do bicep curls. Large water bottles are also great alternatives to free weights (and they’ll remind you to hydrate once you’re finished with them). Flat and stable surfaces like desk chairs, stools, and coffee tables can be used for tricep dips, step-ups, and raised push-ups.

Land softly and quietly

You don’t have to avoid jumping exercises altogether when you’re working out in a dorm room. The softer you land your jumps, the less stress you place on your joints, bones, ligaments and tendons. You’ll prevent injury in the long term while improving your body control, power, strength, and speed.


Dorm Room Workout Resources

Printable workout circuits

3 move no-equipment leg and butt workout from the PumpUp Blog: High knee runs, squat reach and jumps, and one-legged reach and jumps. Do 10 reps of each exercise for 3 sets.

If you want to keep distractions and noise to a minimum, printable circuits are the way to go. You can have them on-hand when you’re doing offline studying- making these workouts ideal for quick and efficient study breaks.  Tons of printable resources are available on Pinterest: ranging from workouts you can do with a paper towel, to 4-move HIIT exercises. For more structure, opt for printable programs similar to Aussie trainer Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide.

Workout DVDs and free YouTube workout videos

When you have more time to spare, borrow from sections of workout DVDs like P90X, or look for bodyweight workout videos on YouTube. Make ‘at-home workouts’, ‘ apartment workouts’ and ‘dorm room workouts’ part of your search strategy if you’re looking for quieter exercises that maximize space. Pilates & yoga videos and workouts for your abs will make the least amount of noise and they’re perfect for tight living quarters.

Health and fitness mobile apps

Best health and fitness apps for dorm room workouts // The PumpUp Blog

Your favourite dorm room workout might reside in your pocket. Nike Training Club has over 100 workouts designed by the brand’s trainers and sponsored pro athletes, SworkIt creates no-equipment workouts that can be adjusted to fit your schedule, 7 Minute Workout puts together a circuit of 12 effective do-anywhere bodyweight exercises, and PumpUp lets you discover and share user-generated workouts created by its 3 million-member community.

Bonus exercise 'hacks' for your dorm

In addition to your scheduled dorm room workouts, pair static and dynamic exercises with everyday tasks:

  • Plank while you read textbooks or papers
  • Do tricep dips while you’re watching (or re-watching) recorded lectures
  • Wall-sit while you memorize cue cards or facts
  • Do as many burpees as you can whenever you finish reading a chapter or write a page of your paper
  • Squat while you brush your teeth, brush your hair, or if you’re in between chores
  • Take the stairs as often as you can
  • Do calf raises whenever you’re waiting in line

Working out in a dorm room is tricky, but it isn't mission: impossible. Share your best dorm room workout tips in the comments below!


How PumpUp gave Karishma a much-needed motivation boost - PumpUp Success Stories

How PumpUp gave Karishma a much-needed motivation boost - PumpUp Success Stories

Like a car without battery juice, Karishma's fitness journey was at a standstill. She sought a way to jump start her progress with a boost of energy and motivation. Over a year ago, she joined the PumpUp community and hasn't looked back since.  "After seeing a few posts about it on Instagram, I thought I'd check the app out," she explained. "I loved it straight away! I found it so easy to use and became acquainted with different workouts that I hadn't thought of before. I was already interested in having a healthy and fit lifestyle."


Prior to her journey with PumpUp, Karishma was still maintaining a regular routine at the gym but neglected to see much progress from her frequent visits. "I wasn't the healthiest, and nothing in comparison to how [healthy] I am now," she admitted. "An average day consisted of me waking up early, having a good 60-90 minute workout, coming home, eating, then going to work." Her routine was consistent and cyclical. She was doing a great job maintaining this workout schedule until a new job derailed her plans. "I ended up putting on weight at my new job," she recounted. "Then, I got motivation and worked it all off."
Karishma PumpUp


Karishma is sticking to a healthy lifestyle for good thanks to the constant motivation that she receives from the PumpUp community. Since she joined the app, Karishma's much more comfortable wearing certain outfits, exercises more consistently and makes more balanced eating choices than ever before. "I've never had such a healthy lifestyle," she professed. "My routine varies now, because I'm attending university. Being away from home has made me healthier, as my family doesn't adhere to the same lifestyle as I do. I usually go to the gym before or after classes and always go on my days off. Using PumpUp inspires me. I just hope that I can inspire a few other people, as well as learn from others." 


Severe shin splints hindered Karishma from running as much as she used to over the course of her journey. "It's just not worth the pain," she said regretfully. "The pain does affect other areas of my lower legs, so I'm going to a physiotherapist soon. This should help deal with whatever problem I may have." Further, like most university students, Karishma admitted to having phases of very irregular sleeping patterns. This is another challenge that she's learned to overcome after committing to a healthy lifestyle.  "On some nights, I don't sleep until 5 a.m., or just have one hour's worth of sleep," she lamented. "It's horrible. I've tried everything to help. Nothing but sleeping aids help." 
Karishma PumpUp


She advises that others looking to achieve a healthy lifestyle should eat well, train hard, and progress will come thereafter. "However small the progress is, it's still something," she counselled. "Everyone struggles sometimes, but it's important to maintain that focus and to slowly reach that goal." She creates smaller benchmarks towards every big goal that she sets for herself. This helps her to feel like she has achieved more, and helps to keep her motivated. "My biggest motivation is seeing other people who have goals that I wish to achieve," she mentioned. "It makes me work that much harder. I definitely see many people on PumpUp whom I admire." 
Karishma's meals PumpUp


Karishma's meals
"Breakfast - porridge with strawberries and a cranberry green tea. Lunch - Scrambled eggs with mushrooms. Dinner (currently) - a red onion and goats cheese tart, with roasted sweet potatoes (slightly salted and peppered), a variety of boiled vegetables and grilled asparagus. Snacks - carrots with sweet chilli hummus or a fruit filled smoothie."


Motivational Mantra
"Giving up is always an option, its whether you make it your choice that counts."


Favourite workout
"Don't have a favourite workout, never have! Anything that makes me sweat makes me happy."


Karishma PumpUp


More about Karishma
"I study Optometry at Cardiff University in Wales and I have wanted to be an Optometrist/Optician for 6 years!"


Keep Karishma pumped on the app and follow her along her journey @karishmaaa! Inspired by her story? Let her know your thoughts in the comments below! Have a great story to share with the PumpUp community? Email alessandra[@]!

It’s back to school time — and you know what that means… #Freshman15! PumpUp hit the street to speak to University of Toronto freshmen about their take on this so-called first-year phenomenon. Here’s what they had to say.