One Item Workouts

Turns out, sometimes the only gym you need is one (possibly quirky) item.

Small-space dwellers tend to stick to one or two at-home items and rely on their gym for full weight sets and cardio equipment. When the gym is closed, don’t let a lack of equipment keep you from reaching your goals. Instead, why not get creative with your next workout and let simplicity be your inspiration to keep moving.

Jump Rope

Whether you’re trying to burn fat, build endurance or just for overall fitness, a jump rope can pretty much do it all. Switch between intense interval jumping or long and steady sessions to target different fitness goals. Include single-leg jumping and jogging for some variation.


The stairs aren’t only a killer cardio workout (flashback to every time you got to the top and were winded), but they can also be used for upper and lower body strength training.

  • Step-ups activate the lower body, including hamstrings, glutes and core.
  • Split jumps provides cardio training while strengthening the glutes.
  • Inclined push-ups engage the legs and core while adding work in your arms, shoulders and chest.
  • Inclined mountain climbers take inclined push-ups to the next level.
  • Sprints raise the heart rate. Try running up and walking down.

Med Ball

A medicine ball can add weight and stability challenges to any workout circuit.

  • Sit-ups and throws (with a partner or the wall) engage core, upper body and shoulders.
  • Mountain climbers engage your core, legs and upper body to stabilize yourself.
  • Single-leg squats with overhead presses target quads, hamstrings and shoulders and challenge stability.
  • Russian twists target and engage core.

A Deck of Cards

A fun option for home or hotel, shuffle some cards and play. First, pick four exercises you want to do and assign each a suit. For example: hearts are mountain climbers, diamonds are squats, spades are push-ups and clubs are sit-ups. Then, start drawing cards and let the cards dictate how many you do (jacks are 11, queens 12 and so on). Keep drawing until you reach fatigue (safely, of course). This workout is great for any level because you can start with 20 cards and work your way up to the entire deck. But remember, going through an entire deck means 104 reps—pace yourself.

Your Dog

Humankind’s best friend can also be the ultimate training partner. Knock out some cardio and tire out your pup at the same time. When you get creative, there’s almost nothing you can’t accomplish with your dog by your side for motivation. Try running, cycling, rollerblading, hiking, stair running or sprinting. Or get creative with this interval workout that also mentally stimulates (and trains) your dog:

  • Reverse lunges with shakes: Stand facing your dog and lunge backward. When your knee is at 90 degrees, ask your dog to shake, then switch legs and paws.
  • Sit, stay and shuffle: Have your dog stay while you side shuffle away and across the room, tell your dog to come, sit and stay, while you shuffle back to your starting position before telling your dog to come.
  • Push-ups: Perform slow push-ups, comanding your dog to sit and lay down at the same time.
  • Wall sits: With your back against the wall, hold your pup for added weight.

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