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Living in a dorm can be challenging for fitness enthusiasts like us. Most dorms do not come equipped with a space dedicated only for workouts so maintaining goals or even striving for new ones becomes a challenge. Here are a few tips and ideas on how to work out in your dorm.
First of all, we need to evaluate our dorms. Most people fail to utilize what the area can provide to us and quickly get disappointed about lack of equipment. I do not know of a dorm that does not have at least a flight of stairs. Go at those stairs and utilize them! I happened to live at a dorm that had 14 flights of stairs so I started from the basement making them 15. Sprints all the way up the stairs can provide an amazing leg and cardiovascular workout. Different workouts can be done in stairs by changing the variables such as wearing a backpack with books making it even harder or even going up the stairs backwards (backing up). I usually did 3 sprints up and down the stairs after I had warmed up which made my heart race and watered down my shirt. Do not forget though, going down the stairs is not for resting. The eccentric motion of going down also aids in muscle stress, which adds up to next days soreness. If you want to get a little extra crazy, try going down the stairs in a push up position to work on upper body strength as well.
If going up and down the stairs like a madman is not your thing, squat. Squats is one of the most important exercises that no one should ever leave behind. If body weight squats are too easy, grab a couple of heavy books (my $200 chemistry book was used more to exercise than to study), and not only you are working out core and legs, but also your grip strength. If the books are still too easy, use your backpack and your roommate’s backpack (one in the front and one in the back to counter the weight) and you are set. Do lunges. Start lunging down and back the hall. If you are one of those people who is not a fan of squats, lunges can help with hip strength along with glute activation. Go for a run. Increase in your cardiovascular health and if you want some extra power in your legs, do 50-yard interval dashes. You can start with 3 intervals with 30 seconds rest in between, going up to 8. The better you become, the longer you can go (make sure you are going all out though).
Moving on to upper body. Invest in a pull up bar that attaches to a door. Most of them go for about $20. You do not need anything fancy just something safe that will hold you up. Pull ups, chin ups, and neutral grip pull ups can help a lot with back and core strengthening. If you do not have a set workout regiment just do the following: whenever you walk under your door just do a set that will bring you about three pull ups away from your max repetitions (only because you need to walk back into your room shortly after, to study of course).
Do push ups. What is your excuse now? Are they too hard? Start from increasing your angle with the ground to decrease resistance. Are they too easy? Do more, or if you want to focus on strength instead of muscle endurance, put a heavy book bag on your back and focus on a slow negative motion (going down) counting up to 4 and coming back up. The diversity of variations that you can do with push ups such as plyo, decline, incline, one hand, weighted etc. will always keep things interested. And if you want to add a little more to your core, you can do sit ups, crunches, back extensions, and most importantly planks! Planks strengthen the abs but also back extensor muscles. Just make sure you are completely flat and not arching your back in any way. Two sets of max time planks should do the trick, before you start your workout regimen.
Dorm living can be a struggle, but still, it is not an excuse to keep you away from being healthy and enjoying the benefits of regular exercising. All of the above exercises, I did at least 3 times a week at a fast pace, and was able to keep my physique (along with some dining hall adjustments that I will talk about in a different article), my strength and my body fat steady while I did not have access to a gym.
Once again, there is no excuse, just go out there and have fun.
Zack Ioannides is a senior at Northern Illinois University and majors in nutrition and dietetics with a minor in kinesiology.
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