Stuck Inside? Indoor Workout Ideas

TRX workouts are a great way to work out at home.
An intelligence officer with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit competes in San Francisco Fleet Week's TRX challenge in San Francisco, Oct. 6, 2012. (Sgt. Jennifer Pirante/1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade)

No matter what your situation is, some days you just cannot get outside or to the gym to exercise on some days. Here is a great routine that you can do in your bedroom, hotel room or whatever keeps you inside.

Hey Stew, I need some help with a quick indoor routine as I am currently stuck inside due to baby, weather, and monetary reasons. I have no equipment and I am looking for a quick calisthenics and/or isometric upper body and lower body workout. If you have any great stomach/lower back workouts, that would be a great addition as well.

There are a few components of a workout program to make it complete. Now, you do not have to do all of these to get a good workout, but one thing I try to stress is complete balance in your workouts. 

That means you want to do some form of resistance training that will work your arms and legs, chest and shoulders. You also will want to focus on your torso - meaning abdominal exercises as well as lower-back and upper-back movements. You can do all of these with little or no equipment, using calisthenics and isometrics with just your body weight. If you add in dumbbells, elastic bands or my favorite -- the TRX suspension bands -- you can multiply your exercises tenfold. 

The remaining element is cardiovascular exercise. Without any equipment, you can walk in place, around the house, up and down steps, and pep it up a little with jumping jacks and jump rope. These components together make a complete workout, and the added cardio work will get the heart pumping faster and help maintain cardiovascular health, as well as a higher fat-burning metabolism.

I highly recommend doing something every day. That means not to do a full-body workout a few times a week, but do a split routine where you do upper body one day, followed by the lower body the next. You can mix in the abdominal and lower back elements as "rest" exercises, as well as do short intervals of cardio options between sets to recover muscle groups.

Here are some sample workouts along with picture descriptions to help burn calories when you are "stuck inside."

Upper-body option

Repeat 5-10 times recommended

Jumping jacks or jump rope 30 seconds

a) Push-ups -- 10 (use knee push-ups or do wide, close, regular hand placement)

b) Reverse push-ups -- 20 (lift your hands off the floor, flexing upper back)

c) Birds -- 20 (lift arms up and down as if you were flying like a bird)

d) Chair dips -- 10-20

Add crunch cycle to the end of this workout:

Rest with crunches/plank pose:

a) Regular crunch -- 20   (just lift shoulder blades off floor)

b) Reverse crunch -- 20  (just lift hips off floor)

c) Double crunch -- 20  (Lift both hips and shoulder blades off floor)

d) Left crunch -- 20 (right elbow to the left knee)

e) Right crunch -- 20 (left elbow to the right knee)

f) Bicycle crunch -- 20 (10 to the left and 10 to the right alternating left/right crunches)

g) Plank pose hold for 30-60 seconds -- build up for 3-5 minutes

This is a great super cycle that will work the abs and lower back but also allow you to "rest" your arms after all those push-ups.

Lower-body workout

Repeat 5-10 times

Jumping jacks or jump rope -- 1 minute

a) Squats -- 20 

b) Lunges -- 10/leg 

c) Calf raise/stretch -- 20/leg 

The exercises above are designed into quick workouts that you progressively can make harder simply by adding more sets or cycles to your workout. Another great addition to any calisthenics workout is the pull-up.  If you have a bar of some type in the house, then try it as a flexed arm hang or full pull-up.  Add pull-ups to your push-up routine perhaps every other set.

Other ideas

1) Get a deck of cards. Pick three exercises you like. One upper-body, lower-body and one stomach exercise. Go through the deck of cards one at a time and perform (for instance) a push-up, crunch and a squat for each of the cards. Do the number of the card if 2-10, but all face cards equal 15 reps. Aces equal 20 reps. A joker will equal 25-50 reps, depending on your fitness level. Get creative with this workout and change it up regularly.

2) Mix in step-ups onto chairs or a low table for a hard leg and cardio mix workout. Simply step up and step down repeatedly.

I hope this helps you make use of indoor time for the better.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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