Circuit Training Workout for Beginners

Whether you're short on time or you want something a little more interesting in your workouts,  circuit training is a great choice. With this type of training, you can combine both cardio and strength training in the same workout.

That allows you to work on multiple areas of fitness rather than having separate workouts, a perfect way to squeeze in exercise if you have a busy schedule.

With these types of workouts, you go from one exercise to the next without resting in between. Because you're doing away with the rests, the workout moves more quickly and efficiently.

There are a number of ways to do circuit training. Some workouts focus on only cardio, some only on strength and others with both. In this workout, you'll be alternating a strength exercise with a cardio exercise.

The key to making this work is to work as hard as you can for the suggested reps or time. That means for the strength exercises, use heavy enough weights that the last rep feels very challenging.

For the cardio exercises, you want to work as hard as you can for the suggested time. Try to get your heart rate somewhere between a level 6 and a level 8 or 9 on this perceived exertion scale.

Precautions

See your doctor if you have any sort of medical condition or injury.

How To

  • Warm up with at least 5 minutes of light cardio activity such as marching in place, walking around the house or up and down stairs, step toucher, et.
  • This workout has 2 circuits, each with 6 alternating strength and cardio exercises that you do one after the other.
  • Do each exercise for the specified amount of time (or as long as you can safely do so) and then move on to the next exercise. Once you complete all exercises, that is considered one circuit.
  • Times are suggestions only--please modify according to your fitness level and perceived exertion.
  • Beginners: Complete Circuit I ​once using moderate weights or no weight at all if you're completely new to exercise.
  • Intermediates: Complete both circuits 1-2 times.
  • Advanced:  Complete both circuits 3 or more times. 

Circuit 1: Ball Squats

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Place an exercise ball behind the back and against the wall with feet hip-width apart, abs in and torso straight.

Walk the feet out so that you're leaning against the ball. If this feels shaky, hold onto a wall or do that exercise without the ball.

Bend your knees and lower down until knees are at 90 degrees. If you have knee problems or this is challenging, only go down as far as you can.

Press into the heels to stand up. 

Repeat for 30-60 seconds and hold weights for added intensity. 

Jumping Rope

For your cardio exercise, you'll use jump rope. If you don't have one or don't have the space for one, you can just jump up and down and twirl your arms.

To do this, jump with both feet together jumping only an inch or so off the floor. Land with the knees soft and on the balls of the feet.

Repeat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

If you're new to jumping rope, try doing 10 jumps in a row and then march in place to rest. Keep doing that for the length of the exercise, going as long as you can each time.

Lunges

Stand in split stance, right foot in front. Your feet should be about 3 feet apart, enough that if you bent both knees, your front knee would not drift too far over the toes.

Holding weights for intensity if desired, bend both knees and lower to the floor into a lunge. Try going as low as you can or until the knees are at 90-degree angles.

The back knee does not have to touch the floor.

Press into the front heel to stand up and repeat for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat for 30 seconds.  

Walk or Jog in Place

For your next cardio move you'll either march or jog in place. If you need more low impact, stick with marching. Try circling the arms to add intensity or walk briskly around the house.

If you're okay with impact, try jogging in place and pressing the arms overhead. Every 15 seconds, switch so that you're jogging with high knees, meaning you're bringing the knees up to hip level if you can.

Repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Pushups

Get into a pushup position. This can be on your knees or on your toes. Make sure the hands are just wider than the shoulders.

With the back flat and abs braced bend the elbows into a pushup. Go as low as you can or until the chest hits the floor. Try not to lead with the chin.

If you need a modification, try wall pushups.

Repeat for 30 seconds, rest briefly and then try for another 30 seconds.

Squats with Front Kick

Stand with feet together.

Bring the right knee up and extend the leg in a front kick (don't lock the knee!).

Lower down into a low squat (knees behind toes) and then kick with the left leg.

Repeat (right kick, squat, left kick) for 1-3 minutes.         

Repeat this circuit 1-3 times.

Circuit 2 - Squat With an Overhead Press

Stand with the feet hip distance apart and hold weights just over the shoulders.

Bend the knees, sending the hips straight back into a squat. Go as low as you can and press through the heels to stand up.

As you stand up press the weights overhead.

Lower the weights and repeat for 30-60 seconds.        

Side to Side Jump

Place a small object on the floor that you can jump over. Make sure it's something that won't trip you up - resistance band makes a good marker.

Stand on one side of the marker and then jump over it with both feet at the same time, landing with the knees soft.

Continue jumping over the band for 30 seconds. Rest if you need to and continue for 30 more seconds.

If this is too challenging, try stepping over the band or jumping with just one foot at a time, which is easier.

Dips

Sit on a chair or bench, hands next to the hips and lift up so that you're balancing on your hands.

Keeping the body very close to the chair, bend the elbows and lower into a triceps dips. You shouldn't go lower than 90 degrees. Press back up and repeat for 60 seconds.

Rest halfway through if you need to. For a modification, keep the feet very close in. For more intensity, walk the feet out. 

Jumping Rope

Get out your jump rope or, if you don't have one, pretend you do.

Jump for 30 seconds to 1 minute 

Jump on one foot for half the time and switch legs for the remainder, jumping only an inch or so off the floor.

Lunge with Biceps Curls

Stand in a split stance with one leg in front and the other in back. Hold weights in each hand and bend the knees into a lunge.

As you lunge, curl the weights up into a biceps curl. Stand, lower the weights and repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Marching Bridges

Lie on the floor face up with the knees bent, feet close to the glutes.

Push up into a bridge position, squeezing the glutes, so that your body is in a straight line.

Hold that position and take one foot a few inches off the floor, Lower and repeat on the other side. Continue marching for 30-60 seconds.

Repeat this circuit 1-3 times.

End with a stretch.

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