How to Maximize a Workout at Your Apartment Gym

We love apartment gyms because they’re convenient and affordable, but they’re not always up to par for individuals with lofty workout standards. Apartment gyms tend to be limited in equipment and space. If just a couple of people are hogging your desired machine or set of dumbbells, you’re left standing awkwardly in the corner waiting your turn. Standing idly by doesn’t exactly help you meet your fitness goals.

Fortunately, there are countless workouts you can do in the smaller quarters of an apartment gym that focus on each muscle group. You’ll build strength and endurance with these routines that will keep you coming back for more. Waiting your turn will no longer be an issue, as you’ll always have an exercise at the ready.

In honor of National Wellness Month, here are 10 ways you can maximize your surroundings in an apartment gym, and eliminate the need to expand to a mainstream fitness center. 

Hyde Square Bellevue

Accomplish a Full Body Workout at Hyde Square in Bellevue, Washington

A fitness center like Hyde Square’s affords plenty of workout options, but the same can’t be said for most apartment gyms. To get the most out of a workout in a condensed space, consider doing supersets. A superset combines two exercises with little to no rest in between sets. So, say your primary focus is working your chest and triceps on a given day. For a superset, you will rally off 10 reps of flies for a pectoral burn, and then go straight to the multi-purpose machine and do 10 reps of triceps rope extensions with no rest in between.

Without taking a break, the workouts will be more taxing and you’ll get more out of them. This opposes the heavy sets with long breaks in between, in which you won’t work up as much of a sweat. Furthermore, you won’t have to do as many exercises to accomplish a productive gym session, which is ideal when the facility is crowded or has a limited amount of equipment.

Ascent Victory Dallas

Workout with a View at Ascent Victory Park in Dallas, Texas

There’s nothing like a sweeping view of the Dallas skyline to energize you throughout an intense workout. Despite the beautiful scenery, you won’t have to rely on the awe-inspiring view to motivate if you show up to the gym with a plan. Know what muscle groups you’re working out for the day and know what equipment you’ll need to execute your plan. In the case of an apartment gym, it’s wise to have a back-up plan in case the machines or weights you need are occupied when you arrive. 

Not having a plan could lead to a stagnant workout. You may spend as much time thinking of workouts while at the gym as you do actually working out. As a result, your energy level will fluctuate and your muscles will experience an unhealthy imbalance of stress and relaxation.

Tree Apartments Austin

Space is No Concern at Tree Apartments in Austin, Texas

What if the gym is so busy or small that both your primary and back-up workout plans go out the window? Scan the facility and see if you can locate an exercise ball. There are numerous productive workouts you can do with these large inflated balls, especially ones focused on your core. You can lay your back on the ball and do sit-ups. You can place the ball up against a wall and lean on it to do wall squats. There’s also leg raises and decline pushups that will have you feeling the burn in your abs as well as well other large muscle groups.

Thus, don’t be afraid to seal off a corner of the gym for yourself and execute a few stability ball exercises. If you find your apartment gym doesn’t have a stability ball, you can find them online or at your local sporting goods store at a reasonable price. 

TOMSCOT Scottsdale

No Weights Needed at The TOMSCOT in Scottsdale, Arizona

It’s only natural to associate weights with fitness facilities. But you’d be amazed by the number of workouts you can do using only your body weight for resistance. The TOMSCOT features all sorts of creative workout tools, including battle ropes, resistance bands, yoga balls and a balance ball. Combined, they can hit every muscle group. 

If you don’t have those luxuries in your apartment gym, no worries. Just lay a yoga mat on the floor and you can exercise your abs through planks, bicycle crunches, Russian twists, Supermans, Mountain Climbers and 6-inch holds. Exercise your legs through calf raises, lunges, air squats and leg lifts. By incorporating an exercise bench, you can do Bulgarian Split Squats and tricep dips. 

Waterfront Lakewood

Relieve Some Stress at Waterfront Apartments in Lakewood, Colorado

The fitness center at Waterfront Apartments features a punching bag and a series of barbells. If you ever workout with a punching bag, be sure to protect your hands and joints by wearing boxing gloves and wrist wraps. Punching will activate fast-twitch muscles, placing a healthy amount of stress on your biceps and core. It will also build endurance.

You can devote an entire 45-minute workout to barbells. By resting a standard barbell behind your neck and over your shoulders, you can do deadlifts, squats and lunges to work out your thighs and hamstrings. Bent over rows strengthen your back and the bench press strengthens your chest. 

Compared to a standard barbell, a curl bar is shorter and wavy. It’s meant for bicep curls, but you can also get a great triceps workout in by laying back on a bench, narrowly gripping the curl bar and holding it over your head, keeping your elbows in and pushing up to where your arms are fully extended.

Cannery Dayton

No Limits at The Cannery in Dayton, Ohio

If you’re looking for a hard-nosed, iron-filled gym, then make your home at The Cannery. The slow burn workouts, such as the incline press, decline press, bench press and leg press, are on full display. These are the exercises that allow you to really stretch your weight limits and build muscle mass. It’s always a good idea to have a spotter whenever doing any of these exercises. The leg press is machine-based, but the other three presses are generally free motion, meaning you can injure yourself if losing control. A spotter will stand over you and provide relief if needed.

Hardware Village Salt Lake City

Enjoy a Top-Level Workout at Hardware Village in Salt Lake City, Utah

Wouldn’t it be nice if every apartment gym had an upper deck? Hardware Village sports an open space on the top level of its gym, giving folks a chance to escape from the clinking and clanking of the weights below. It’s a great place to stretch before a strenuous workout. Stretching will loosen your muscles, decreasing the chances of sustaining any debilitating cramps, tweaks and pulls. 

Also, before diving into the heavy lifting, it helps to get your blood flowing with weightless exercises, such as jumping rope, running quick sprints or briefly jogging on the treadmill. Jumping rope may give you flashbacks to middle school PE class, but it’s actually a very wholesome exercise that helps with strength, endurance and agility. There’s a reason you often see professional boxers doing it.

Proximity Northlake Charlotte

Go Station to Station at Proximity Northlake in Charlotte, North Carolina

The vast majority of apartment gyms contain a multi-purpose machine. You’ll often see an all-in-one machine that consists of various pull-up grips and adjustable pulleys with handles. Many workouts can be accomplished in this single area, so you won’t have to wander around the gym waiting for other machines to become available.

Adjust the pulleys so they’re roughly chest high on each side to do a cable fly. Your arms will start wide; you’ll have to keep them straight as you pull outward until your hands meet in the middle for an outstanding inner-pectoral workout. There is a wide variety of chest exercises that you can do on a multi-purpose machine. To end your workout, try a quick burnout session, which is where you see how many pull-ups you can do before you can’t do anymore.

Atelier Los Angeles

Put Your Legs to the Test at Atelier in Los Angeles, California

If cardio is more your thing, challenge yourself on an exercise bike, elliptical machine or a treadmill. Cardio equipment has become very advanced. It can monitor calories burned, heart rate, distance and more. Most also include built-in programs that can help you accomplish defined workout goals. 

Treadmills can be inclined and declined to simulate running through hills. Exercise bikes are perfect for both long distances and intense quick rides. A popular bike workout entails going at high-intensity for three minutes and then resting for two. To maximize the workout, you’ll repeat those steps 8-10 times. 

Cardio will keep you fit and doing it indoors at your apartment gym is a great way to avoid heat and inclement weather. It also helps that machines can track your progress, making it simple to take your workout to the next level each time.

Southwestern Dallas

Complete the Free Weight Special at The Southwestern in Dallas, Texas

Every apartment gym has a layout of free weights, so you can fix yourself in front of the dumbbell rack and knock out a plethora of workouts. Free weights are geared primarily towards upper body exercises, whether they be biceps, triceps, shoulders, back or chest. We mentioned earlier the various presses you can do with a barbell. You can also do these moves with dumbbells. A dumbbell press is actually more tedious, as you must maintain the proper form in order to get the most out of the workout.

Free weight bicep workouts: 

  • Zottman curl - Elbows in and arms straight, grip the barbells with your palms facing inward, then use your forearms to thrust up. At the same time, rotate your palms to where they are facing up.

  • Traditional curl - Same idea, but keep the palms up and dumbbells horizontal throughout the curl.

  • Hammer curl - The dumbbells rest in your hands just as a hammer would. The side of the dumbbell should motion towards the ceiling, focusing more on the inner bicep.
Free weight tricep workouts: 
    • Two-arms triceps extension - Grab the dumbbell with both hands, place it behind your head with one of the sides facing up, and lift up while keeping your elbows still. You can do this with one arm as well, although you’ll have to adjust the weight.

    • Triceps Kickback – Rest your left knee on a flat bench and place your right foot on the ground. Lean forward, lift the dumbbell with your right hand and bend your right arm to where the forearm is parallel with your right leg. Keep everything still except your forearm, in which you will extend until you feel a pinch in your right triceps.
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