How can I get a good workout in at home when I live in a tiny apartment and don't want to annoy my neighbors?

Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • As people across the world stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are turning to home workouts to maintain their strength and fitness.
  • However, this is particularly challenging if you live in a small apartment and have to factor in not annoying your downstairs neighbors by jumping around.
  • It's possible though — basic bodyweight resistance exercises like push-ups, lunges, and squats are the way to go.
  • Rather than focusing on fat loss, online coach and personal trainer Jordan Syatt recommends giving yourself a physical goal while self-isolating, like trying to perform a certain number of a particular exercise every day.
  • Read more Working it Out here.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Dear Rachel,

I want to work out at home but the trouble is I live in a tiny apartment — not only do I not have much room at all to move, but I don't want to annoy my neighbors by jumping around and making lots of noise. How can I get a good workout in so I maintain my fitness and strength, and don't gain weight?

 — Squished and self-isolating

Dear Squished,

As someone who lives in a city center apartment that can only be described as a shoebox, in a block with unfathomably thin walls and ceilings, I feel your pain.

Also, I'm glad to hear you're actually being considerate of your neighbors — that's more than can be said for some people.

The good news is that you can totally get an efficient, full-body workout in without lots of jumping around, and when you're stuck at home, prioritizing doing so is an excellent decision.

You don't need much space to reap the benefits of movement

You might need to move some of your furniture around — I have to shift my coffee table to the side and roll up my rug to create enough room to put down a yoga mat — but space can be made in even the coziest of apartments.

And it'll be worth the trouble.

"It's very easy to be sedentary right now and fall into the trap of bingeing on Netflix," Ashley Verma, founder of London barre fitness studio Define, told Insider.

A barre workout can be recreated at home using a sturdy chair.
Ashley Verma

"Creating a daily at-home fitness routine can be very therapeutic mentally and physically during these uncertain times.

"If you can switch on the motivational mindset, you can do a fab workout in the comfort of your home. Simply clear a little space and you can tackle some of the most basic fitness moves that honestly lift the heart rate, lift your spirits, and build up your all-around fitness."

Focus on basic bodyweight resistance exercises

Cardio and high-intensity interval training is likely going to result in your downstairs neighbors angrily knocking on your door, but bodyweight resistance exercises should leave them in peace.

What's more, strength workouts are the most efficient way to train because the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate. You can definitely still get a sweat on too.

"Your standard lunges, press-ups, and squats are basic moves that give fab results," advised Verma.

"If you are new to these moves, start small. Do 10 of each in three rounds. You will build from there.

"Need more? Clear some space at a wall and slide on down until your hips, knees, and ankles make a 90-degree angle, now hold. Yes, it's going to burn the lower body! Aim for a 10-20 second hold to start. Build to longer and aim for three rounds."

As well as push-ups, squats, and lunges in various forms, personal trainer and fat-loss coach Jordan Syatt shared the following list of quiet but effective exercises with Insider:

  • Hip thrusts
  • Glute bridges
  • Crunches
  • Sit-ups
  • Hollow body holds
  • Planks
  • Front raises
  • Lateral raises 
  • Rear delt raises

And if you don't have any of your own weights to perform the last three, don't fret: Syatt recommends using soup cans or bottles of laundry detergent (personally, I tend to go for cans of beans myself).

For fat loss, focus on your diet — but that might not be the best goal right now

If fat loss is one of your goals, the way to make that happen is by creating a calorie deficit through your diet.

"In terms of losing fat, it comes down to keeping your nutrition in check and staying in a calorie deficit," Syatt said.

However, he doesn't recommend making that a priority at the moment, while self-isolating or social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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This shit is crazy. – I think I’ve set an all-time world record for saying, “wtf is going on?” the most consecutive times in the last few days. – I’m anxious. – Worried. – Concerned. – Unsure. – On edge. – I’m sure you are, too. – We all are. – I will say this, though. – I’ve seen some pretty fucking amazing things since all this started. – I’ve seen people coming together from all over the country and world to help each other. – I’ve seen people encouraging and supporting complete strangers. – I’ve seen people going out of their way and putting themselves at risk to help someone else. – I know this is crazy and scary and a huge mind fuck. – But I also know we’re going to get through this. – We’re going to grit our teeth and make the most out of this insane situation. – And we’re going to come out on the other side stronger and more resilient. – If I can help please tell me. I’ll do my best to help in any capacity possible. – If you want, I’m texting free daily home workouts you can do with just your body weight to my text community. – If you want them you can text me here and I’ll send ‘em daily: +1 (617) 249-7381. – If you can’t text me check my IG stories daily because I’ll post screen shots for you. – Sending you love. – J. – #corona #coronavirus #strength #strong #staystrong #health #fitness #community #world #love #happy #resilience #positivity #optimism

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"Right now when you're quarantined, stuck at home, and around food all the time, I probably wouldn't worry as much about trying to lose fat," Syatt said.

Instead, he recommends giving yourself an activity-based challenge to work towards.

"Set a goal to try to achieve over the course of the day — a certain number of repetitions of a certain exercise or several exercises," he said, suggesting push-ups, squats, or lunges, for example, or a couple of them.

"Try and achieve maybe 100 reps by the end of every single day," said Syatt. "Focus on achieving a goal with movement and exercise rather than trying to lose weight right now."

Level-up with weights

If you want to push yourself a little harder in your workouts without making noise, consider buying a set of medium dumbbells.

"Adding weight to your exercises puts increased demand on the body and raises the heart rate more without jumping around, which is especially great for anyone who lives in an apartment, not to mention the endless benefits of weight training, being able to build muscular strength as well as cardiovascular benefits," Gede Foster, Head of Fitness at home workout app Fiit, told Insider.

"When performing bodyweight workouts we lack a fundamental movement pattern of 'pull' exercises, for example, rows and deadlifts, etc," she explained.

"Adding in weights allows for a complete, balanced workout together with an even amount of push and pull. This is super important for the posterior chain especially in these 'work from home' times."

And if you want more guidance when it comes to structuring your workouts, you need only look online.

Between apps like Fiit (which has a "quiet" category of workouts), online coaches with huge social media followings like Syatt, and fitness studios offering online classes like Define, there's plenty out there to ensure you never get bored of exercising from your living room.

"Getting and staying fit is a process," said Verma. "Perhaps once you get the basics going at home and you find you want more of a push, start looking at online workout platforms that speak to you.

"Ultimately you have to find what motivates and inspires you to stay on your fitness journey."

Don't let a small space hold you back though, you can still get an awesome workout in — take it from someone whose body is currently screaming after all the push-ups.

Wishing you well,


As Insider's senior lifestyle reporter and a self-described fitness fanatic, Rachel Hosie is fully immersed in the wellness scene and is here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you're struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.

Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips — she regularly speaks to some of the world's most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she's always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.

Have a question? Ask Rachel at [email protected] or fill out this anonymous form. All questions will be published anonymously.

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