How to Do Cardio Exercises in a Small Space

How to Do Cardio Exercises in a Small Space

If you live in an apartment, you’ve probably thought – at one point or another – that you’re going to need to get a gym membership if you want to get in shape. After all, running outside in New York can be almost impossible. Depending on the time of day and the time of year, the streets are too crowded, the weather is too hot or too cold, and it’s just not always safe to go for a jog at night. So what can you do if you want to get fit, but you don’t want to shell out the cash for a gym membership? Check out a few simple things you can do in even the smallest space to get fit and stay that way.


Squats give you a full-body workout that engages your core, your glutes, and your leg muscles. Doing a few sets of squats every morning will get your heart rate up, and you literally only need as much space as you need to stand with your feet about hip-width (or just slightly wider) apart.

Want to make your squat workout a little tougher? Hold a kettlebell or a dumbbell in front of your chest to do goblet squats, or hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides or over your head. Want to improve your squat and really work your glutes, hamstrings, and quads? Do wall squats. Just stand slightly away from the wall and, with your back against the wall, settle into a squat where your hips, knees, and ankles are all at right angles. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat.

Heel Kicks and High Knees

Running in place can actually burn a lot more calories than you might think, and you can do a couple of variations on this old exercise to make it even more effective. Heel kicks work to strengthen your hamstrings and stretch your quads, and they’re great cardio if you do them quickly. Act like you’re running in place, but instead of bringing your knees up, alternate kicking each heel back toward your buttocks.

For high knees, you’ll do the opposite. Instead of just running or jogging in place, with each step, you’ll bring your knee up as high as you can. Try to touch your knee to your stomach without leaning forward. This is a great cardio workout – you’ll be feeling it in less time than you might imagine!

Lunges and Reverse Lunges

Step forward with one leg and sink into a deep lunge. Straighten your front leg to get out of the lunge and step back into your original position. Now do it with the other leg. These are regular lunges that you’ve no doubt done before, and they’re a great exercise to keep in your repertoire, but they’re not the only lunge you should be doing if you want to get a great workout without going for a run or heading to the gym.

Next, try a reverse lunge. Instead of stepping forward, you’ll step back into the lunge, sink, and then stand back up, straightening your front leg and bringing your back leg forward to meet it. Alternate legs and do a few reverse lunges with each leg.

These are just a few of the best exercises to get your heart rate up and give you a great cardio workout, even in a small space with no equipment. Try out a combination of all three and see how quickly you can work up a sweat in your bedroom or living room! And, if these aren’t hard enough to get your heart pumping, try adding some weight with dumbbells or ankle weights, or do a few more sets and reps!