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Never Miss a Sweat Sesh with this Customizable Cardio Circuit Routine
I’m the kind of person that must fit a workout into my day. There’s something about the rush of endorphins and the cleanse of a good sweat that my body has come to crave. On days that I can’t convince myself to crank out a bout of exercise, I always pay for it later on. My appetite is off, I can’t fall asleep well at night, and overall I just feel a bit off.
While my preference is to hit up a class, this option isn’t always available, particularly while traveling. This summer, on a trip home, I found myself in this situation. I wanted to get my workout in but didn’t have access to a gym. I’d attended enough workout classes and done enough at-home workout videos to have picked up a thing or two about stringing together my own sweat sesh. The result was the creation a cardio circuit routine that has since become my go-to workout anytime I can’t get to the gym or simply want a break from it.
The beautiful thing about circuit training is that you can shorten or extend the length of your workout to suit the time you have available. I recommend starting with 2 rounds of cardio circuit and 1 round of the ab/upper body circuit with 1 minute dedicated to each exercise. However, if you’re short on time feel free to cut out a circuit or to shorten the amount of time spent on each activity. Likewise, if you have a bit more time and you’re up for the challenge go through the circuit an extra time.
Besides being able to customize this routine to fit into your schedule, another thing I love about this workout is that you can do it pretty much anywhere. No equipment is needed other than a good pair of gym shoes. The cardio bit is based on time not distance so you can reverse direction as many times as needed to fit each workout into the space you have. The ab/upper body section is intentionally plank-centric as these moves don’t require you to have a soft surface to sit on. If you’ve got access to the outdoors then you should be good to go.
Warm UpComplete each move for 1 minute.
- Exaggerated Walk: Pull knees up to meet your waist then lengthen to the front as you walk forward.
- Jog: Run forward at a pace in which it would be easy to carry on a conversation
Cardio CircuitComplete each move for 1 minute. Recover. Repeat the circuit 1-2 more times.
- Butt Kicks: Run forward while kicking each heel up to meet your bum.
- High Knees: Run forward while raising each knee up to meet your waist
- Jump Squats: Plant both feet on the ground wider than hip width. Squat down until your knees are at a 90º angle. Leap up and forward as far as you can.
- Moving Skaters: Stand sideways with both feet together. Raise your right knee and leap toward the right. Plant right foot on the ground while bringing your left knee up to meet your waist. Pivot on your right toe until you are facing the opposite direction. Repeat leading with your left foot.
- Walking Forward Lunges: Start with both feet together hip width apart. Step forward with your right leg while raising your hands above your head. Bend your both knees into 90º angles. Step forward with your left leg and repeat.
- Walking Backward Lunges: Start with both feet together hip width apart and hands on hips. Step backward with your right leg while bending your left knee to a 90º angle. Step back with your left leg and repeat.
- Side Lunges: Stand sideways with both feet together. Lunge to the right until your right knee is at a 90º angle. Keep left leg straight. Push up with your right foot, pivot on your toe until you are facing the opposite direction. Lunge to the side with your left leg.
- Skipping: Run forward bringing your knees up to meet your waist and springing off your planted foot as you go. Swing arms long and strong to propel you up and forward.
- Sprints: Run forward at your quickest pace keeping light on your toes. Your pace should leave you breathless
Active Recovery1 minute in between each round of cardio.
- Slow Jog: Run forward at a pace in which it would be easy to carry on a conversation.
Abs and Upper Body CircuitSpend 1 minute on each exercise taking mini breaks in child’s pose if needed. Go through circuit 1 time.
- Plank: Lower your body into a push up position with your hands planted directly below your shoulders. Push heels back as if you are reaching for a wall behind you. Make sure your body is straight and that your butt is not pushed up higher than your shoulders.
- Walking Plank: In plank position move right arm and right leg to the right. Lower into a push up. Repeat in the opposite direction.
- Shoulder Touch Planks: In plank position touch your left shoulder with your right hand. Repeat on the other side.
- Hip Dips: Get into plank position then move your toes forward a few inches and lift your butt slightly higher than shoulder height. Lower your right hip to the right in an arching motion. Repeat in the opposite direction.
- Hip Raises: Start in hip dip position. Lower your butt as you move your body forward. Shoulders should end in front of your hands. Push back into the starting position and repeat.
- Cross-body Mountain Climbers: Resume plank position. Lift your right knee and cross it over to meet your left elbow. Return to starting position and repeat on the left side. Pick up your speed into a jogging pace as you go back and forth.
- Tricep Planks: Start in plank position. Lift your right knee up to meet your right elbow. As you do so, move your body forward so that your shoulders are in front of your hands. Lower into a tricep push-up with elbows hugging your sides. Push up and repeat on the opposite side.
- Downward Dog Push-ups: Begin in downward dog position. Move forward into a plank. Lower down into a pushup. Push back up into downward dog. Repeat.