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Ask the Celebrity Trainer: What's the Best Workout for a Small Space?

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Ask the Celebrity Trainer: What's the Best Workout for a Small Space?

Q. The gym is too crowded in January! What's the most effective workout I can do in a small space (i.e. the corner of the gym)?

A. In my opinion, having a lot of space in the gym and tons of different training tools is more of a luxury than a necessity for getting in shape. You can easily perform a highly effective training session in a relatively small space with just your body and a set of dumbbells. The workout routine below is a great example.

I have outlined two different strategies—depending on your level of fitness—to follow over the course of the next four weeks. Perform the following program three times per week on non-consecutive days. The resistance that you will use will be determined by the number of repetitions prescribed. If you cannot complete the minimum number of reps with the chosen load, reduce the resistance. If you can achieve more than the maximum number of prescribed repetitions, you should increase the resistance.

Beginners:
Week 1:  2 sets with 30 seconds between each movement and 120 seconds after each set.
Week 2:  3 sets with 30 seconds between each movement and 120 seconds after each set.
Week 3:  3 sets with 20 seconds between each movement and 120 seconds after each set.
Week 4:  3 sets with 15 seconds between each movement and 120 seconds after each set.

Intermediate/Advanced:
Week 1:  3 sets with 30 seconds between each movement and 90 seconds after each set.
Week 2:  3 sets with 15 seconds between each movement and 90 seconds after each set.
Week 3:  4 sets with 30 seconds between each movement and 90 seconds after each set.
Week 4:  4 sets with 15 seconds between each movement and 90 seconds after each set.

The Workout
Exercise 1. Split Squats
Repetitions: 8-10/side
Rest period: See above (rest occurs after both sides)
How to do it: Stand in a staggered stance, your left foot in front of your right. Take 2 seconds to lower your body as far as you can. Pause for 1 second, then take 1 second to push yourself back up to the starting position. Complete the prescribed number of reps with your left leg forward, then do the same number with your right foot in front of your left.

Exercise 2. Pushups
Repetitions: As many reps as possible with proper form (no sagging through the core)
Rest period: See above
How to do it: Get down into a push up position and place your hands on the floor so that they're slightly wider than and in line with your shoulders. Take 2 seconds to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause slightly at the bottom, and then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as possible. If your hips sag at any point during the exercise, your form has broken down. When this happens, consider that your last repetition and end the set.

Exercise 3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
Repetitions: 8-10
Rest period: See above
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent,  holding a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with your palms facing inward. Shift your hips back and take 2 seconds to lower the dumbbells while keeping your back flat. Pause for 1 second, then return to standing position by contracting your hamstrings and glutes. Repeat for prescribed number of repetitions.

Exercise 4. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Repetitions: 8-10/side
Rest period: See above (rest occurs after both sides)
How to do it: Grab a dumbbell in your right hand, bend at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it's almost parallel to the floor. Keep your spine neutral and let your right arm hang down from your shoulder, holding the dumbbell with palm facing in. Keep a slight bend in the elbow. Take 1 second to pull the dumbbell to the side of your torso, keeping your elbow tucked close to your side. Pause for 1 second at the top and then take 2 seconds to lower back to the starting position. Perform all reps with one arm and then switch to the other side.

Exercise 5. Standing Curl to Press
Repetitions: 10-12
Rest period: See above
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and let them hang at arm's length next to your sides. Turn your arms so that your palms face forward. Without moving your upper arms, bend your elbows and take 1 second to curl the dumbbells as close to your shoulders as you can. From here, rotate your hands so the palms are facing each other and press the dumbbells above your head until your arms are straight. Reverse the movement and repeat until all reps are completed.

Exercise 6. Plank Hold
Repetitions: 1**
Rest period: See above
How to do it: Start to get into a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about the be punched in the gut.

**Beginners should work up to a 30-second hold and intermediate/advanced trainees should work up to a 60-second hold. If 60 seconds is easy for you, try to hold as long as you can and write down that time to track your progress.

Personal trainer and strength coach Joe Dowdell has helped transform a clientele that includes stars of television and film, musicians, pro athletes, CEO's, and top fashion models. To learn more, check out JoeDowdell.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter @joedowdellnyc.

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