Are the winter months keeping you away from the gym more than you’d like? Maybe you don’t want to fight the New Year’s Resolution crowds. Or perhaps you’re in a post-holiday funk. Sounds like the perfect time to add your own circuit workout to get you back in the groove!
Working out at home can not only be a convenient way to stay fit, but it can also be an effective way as your options can be limitless. Not only can you get a great workout in by simply utilizing your own body weight, but by also incorporating some inexpensive at-home equipment like resistance bands, kettlebells and medicine balls you won’t get bored and the “I have no time” excuse can never be used!
A great – and simple – way to get started with your circuit workout is to do body weight circuits.
For those not totally familiar with circuit training, it involves putting together a series (circuit) of exercises that you can perform one after another with little to no rest between exercises. The minimal rest between exercises is an important part of the workout because you purposely don’t want your body to achieve complete recovery during the circuit.
Some of the key benefits to circuit training include:
- Time efficient – circuits can be short yet very effective.
- Work the entire body – depending on how you design your circuit, you can easily achieve a total body workout
- Improves conditioning and muscular endurance – by constantly moving from one exercise to another, your heart rate will stay up and your muscle endurance will improve.
- You can build muscle AND lose weight depending on the exercises used
- Eliminates the need for separate cardio and strength equipment.
- You can do these types of workouts virtually anywhere….at home, on the road, at the gym, outside, etc.
- They’re great to do with a workout partner.
- They can be a FUN way to work out!
- There are many ways to design a circuit, which makes this type of training a perfect companion to your weight loss and strength training efforts.
Choosing Your Circuit Workout
While there is no “best” circuit workout, a well-designed circuit will be one built around your particular fitness level and goals. When choosing your exercises, you should include a mixture of:
- Resistance exercises to help build valuable calorie-consuming muscle
- Metabolic exercises that will increase your heart rate and help you burn calories throughout the day
- High intensity and low intensity exercises that will allow you to push through the circuit workout
There is no magic number of exercises to include when designing a circuit. While most may consist of 6-12 exercises, it’s totally up to you and what you want to accomplish in that day’s workout. You could pick 12 exercises and perform one set of each with no rest between. You could choose 6 exercises and go through the circuit 4 times. Circuit workouts can be intense and short (12-15 minutes), or they can be as long as 45-60 minutes.
As you can see, the variables are limitless so, while it may seem confusing, keep in mind the main point is to do more work in less time than you would in a normal gym session.
Ready to give circuit training a shot? Here’s a body weight circuit to get you started. Shoot for 3x/week with a day of active rest (yoga, walking, light cardio, etc.) in between circuit workouts.
(a stopwatch or a timer app on your phone can come in handy when circuit training)
Circuit Workout #1 – 12 Minute Body weight
Perform the following 6 exercises for 30 seconds each with little to no rest between exercises. Once you complete a full circuit, rest one minute before repeating for 4 total rounds.
- Side Plank – Right
- Side Plank – Left
- Alternate Lunges
Circuit Workout #2 – Bodyweight Build & Burn
Perform the following 6 exercise for 30 seconds each or pick a rep range (12-20) for each exercise with little to no rest between exercises. Once you complete a full circuit, rest one minute before repeating for 3-4 total rounds.
- Bodyweight Squats
- Jumping Jacks
- Renegade Rows
- Lateral Hops
- Scissor Steps
- Lateral Lunges
- High Knees
- Leg Drops
- Mountain Climbers