Text by Stephanie Frick | Photography by Jim Wells
This circuit training involves performing a series of body weight strength exercises with little to no rest between exercises. This is by far my favorite way to do cardiovascular exercise! The benefits of this workout include increasing work capacity (the amount of work you can do and recover from), increase in cardiovascular fitness, increase in strength endurance, adapting to acid buildup in the muscles, mental toughness, quick changes in body composition (lose fat without losing muscle).
There are many ways to design a circuit. You could pick sets of exercises and do one set of each with no rest. You could go several times through a circuit with no rest. You could do a series of exercises with work intervals and rest intervals. This can be as intense and as short as 15 minutes or they can be as long as an hour. I have chosen 8 exercises for you, around 40 minutes at length, including the warm up and cool down. 4 exercises are performed for 30 seconds straight through the set, until every exercise is finished. After each round of the exercises, 1 minute of recovery time is given. There is also a warm up and cool down. All exercises can be performed low to non-impact.
This training is a metabolic training. Metabolic training responds to the volume of work done… 2 goals are accomplished here. The benefit is that the body learns to better buffer the lactic acid in the muscle, and this leads to much better strength endurance. Another benefit is the growth hormone released from training this way, allows fat loss with minimal muscle breakdown and this is why it is effective at creating fast and amazing changes in your body.
Warm up- 30 seconds of each. Run in Place, jumping jacks (can be low impact… no hop) butt kicks, high knees. 2 rounds of this and into a quick standing stretch. Each is held 15-30 seconds. Legs together, roll down to stretch hamstrings. Take legs further apart, stretch down again. Take one leg forward, pull heel down and toe up to stretch the back muscle of your leg.(Calf muscle and hamstring) and switch legs. Hold on to a steady object or balance as you stretch the front muscle (Quadricep ) of your leg by holding the top of your shoe behind you and pushing your hip forward. NOW you are ready to melt fat!
1st CIRCUIT- 4 Rounds of 30 second exercises performed only breaking for 1 minute in between sets until finished.Time= 9 minutes Total including 1 minute rest between Rounds.
WIDE SQUAT with ARM CIRLCES
Take Legs wide away from your center, Toes Turned out, knees and toes in the same line. Slide your body down into a wide, low, squat position. Arms straight out beside you, finger tips up, draw big circles… then reverse circles the next round. Hold low and abs in tight. Find the burn in those shoulders!
WIDE ARM CROSS toe TOUCH
Standing Wide Legs away from your center, with as straight of leg as you can get, pull your leg high and tight to your opposite hand’s fingertips. Think “TIN MAN” here. Keep everything as tight as you can, using your abs to lift your leg. 30 seconds.
WIDE SQUAT PULSES
Same as the 1st exercise, but arms at sides, and staying very low with small pulses for the full 30 seconds. If your knees start to ache, just lift a little higher and pay attention to not having your legs too close together or your toe and knee on the wrong track. If it ever hurts and not in a good way…. Just stop.
FROG SQUAT HOP
With the same stance as the previous exercise, as tired as your legs may feel, put a little hop into the wide squat movement, or ever for more calorie burn, JUMP! Land softly like a Cat, not a Mack Truck. If you are falling like a ton of bricks, just use a small hop, or just briskly up and down with no impact at all. DO IT AGAIN 3 times!
2nd Circuit– 4 Rounds of 30 second exercises performed only breaking for 1 minute in between sets until finished. Time = 9 minutes Total including 1 minute rest between Rounds
WALK OUT into PLANK (Option of a Push-Up at bottom)
Looking easier than it is, try to keep legs as straight as you go down, and hold your abdominals in tight when walking your hands into plank. Think quick but controlled. Keep your elbows soft when walking your hands into plank, and butt tight so that your abdominals do not bow. We don’t really want to look like a sway back horse.
SIDE TO SIDE HOPS
Envision Skiing down the slopes in a small squat position with your legs together, adding a small hop at every angle. We want our toes to look to the Left, Front, and Right. Keep tight with butt back a little. Your chest stays proud, and shoulders out of your ears. See how quick you can hop hitting every angle. No hopping for you? Just quickly move your feet. No matter how it’s done, your heart rate will elevate.
reverse LUNGE KICK
Feet in shoulder width stance. Step back into a lunge, safely enough so your knees do not feel a sharp pain. With that same leg, step up from your back lunge into a kick at the top. Switch legs. Pull your knee high before you perform the kick. Hold your abs tight so that you do not fall over… and use arms to balance you. This can be done very slowly, or with high Intensity even adding a hop with the high knee. Have fun with it. Use the kicking motion as a stress reliever. Let’s be honest, we all sort of want to kick something sometimes.
MARY KATHERINES (aka LUNGE JUMPS)
Same stance as previous exercises. Add continuous jumping from lunge to lunge. This exercise can get very intense, so breathe deeply, and be aware of the placement of your knees and toes. Keep your stance wider so that you do not fall over. The higher you jump, and the lower you drop into the lunge with increase your heart rate, and burn in the muscle. You’ll be ready for the 1 minute break following this exercise. For Low impact, add a small hop at the back, for no impact, do a quick toe touch at the back of the lunge. This is my favorite for a HUGE calorie burn, and nice lean, toned legs!Now, DO IT AGAIN 3 times!
Cool down- Walk around a little, let your heart rate slow down by breathing fully through your nose and out through your mouth. Use the same stretches as the warm up, but holding the stretches twice as long and deep. Your muscles will be nice and warm and ready for a good stretch. Chances are, you sweat your face off, so congrats on pushing yourself and your body to be in its Healthiest, and most athletic version of itself. It’s never too late to be an athlete… or to get that amazing, fit, body back just in time for summer! Remember, stay safe, and have fun with this. Do it with a group of friends at the park, turn your most motivating music as loud as you can stand it, and let the sweat fall! Every time you do this, it will become more fun!