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15 Circuit Training Routines: Quick At-Home & Gym Workouts


This circuit training guide is gonna give you EVERYTHING you need to do your first kickass circuit training workout today.

I mean come on, it has dinosaurs in it.

These workouts are similar to the custom programs we build for our Online Coaching Clients who work out at home, on the road, and in outer space.

Okay FINE we don’t have any clients in space (yet). But we do have clients in Antarctica, and multiple aerospace engineers. Close enough?

We build workout programs that are actually fun! Learn more:

If you’re hoping circuit training will maximize your results in a minimum amount of time, one of the 15 circuits below will do the trick:

What Are the Benefits of circuit training?

The “circuit” in circuit training comes from the fact that you do a sequence of exercises back to back to back, and then you repeat the sequence.

And then again.

You cycle through the planned sequence of exercises, or circuit, multiple times.

That’s circuit training.

Generally, you hit each major muscle group during one full circuit. You may do a lower body for one exercise. Then upper body the next.

You’ll find all sorts of different circuit training sequences. Here are some things most will have in common:

Several different exercises. A normal circuit will have five to ten different movements per circuit. You’ll often hear these referred to as “stations.” Overhead press station, squat station, etc.
Little to no rest in between. The goal of circuit training is to keep your heart rate up. Ideally, if you’re physically able, you go from one exercise to another without stopping. Maybe you rest after the whole circuit. Maybe.
Rinse and repeat. Generally, you’ll run through your circuit a few times. Three rounds are common.

Make sense?

The point here is to work different parts of your body with different exercises, and then while those parts are recovering, you’re working on your other movements! This helps build cardiovascular health, while also improving muscular endurance and strength.

Plus you’ll burn calories!

As we lay out in our article, Cardio vs Interval Training vs. Weight Training, research supports that doing strength training circuits is great for weight loss and overall health.

More importantly, for somebody with limited time, doing a strength training circuit is more effective at building strength and burning fat than an equivalent amount of cardio.

In other words, if you are trying to lose weight, you should be doing circuit training.

Our Beginner Bodyweight Circuit would be a great place to begin, and you can download a worksheet to help you get started right here:

Grab Your Beginner Bodyweight Routine Worksheet. No Gym Required!

Complete this workout at home, no equipment required
Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing bodyweight exercises
Learn how to finally get your first pull-up

Why Should I do circuit training?

Generally, you’ll hear exercise divided into strength training or aerobic exercise (cardio).

What’s the difference, you wonder?

Strength training. Strength training is also referred to as anaerobic exercise, which would be a short burst of energy for movement. Think of a push-up or pull-up. These exercises help build and tone muscle.
Aerobic Exercise. “Aerobic” means “needs oxygen.” Your heart rate increases to get oxygen where your body needs it, thus the word “cardio.” Running, biking, or jumping jacks would be examples of aerobic exercise.

The thing about a circuit is, you actually do both categories. Presses and lunges fall into strength training. Jumping jacks are cardio.

And since you aren’t stopping much in between stations, you’ll need more oxygen, and voila. Even more cardio.

With circuit training, you build muscle and burn fat WHILE building stamina.

As Michael Scott would say, “that’s a win, win win.”

There’s some debate on what kind of exercise is better for weight loss: aerobic or anaerobic.

My thoughts?

If you’re limited on time and only can pick one, I would pick strength training: when you strength train, you break your muscles down, and your body needs to work extra hard over the next 24-48 hours to rebuild those muscles (with increased calories burned).

We work with our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients to create programs that combine both strength and cardio in a fun way – it really comes down to a program that you actually WANT to do.

Let us build you a workout program that’s ACTUALLY fun!

Before and after your circuit training: Warm up and stretch

No matter which circuit you pick, I want you to start with one important thing:

Warm-up!

I cover why you should always warm up in an article found right here. It doesn’t have to be much though, give it about five minutes to get your muscles active and your heart rate up.

This will help you do exercises properly and help prevent injury. You can run in place, do air punches and kicks, or some jumping jacks.

Here is NF Senior Coach Staci (you might know her incredible story) showing you many beginner options you can use to warm up as well:

Did I just tell you to prepare for circuit training, with a circuit?!

If you’re curious, here’s my personal (advanced) warm-up:

Jump rope: 2-3 minutes 
Jumping jacks: 25 reps
Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
Lunges: 5 reps each leg.
Hip extensions: 10 reps each side
Hip rotations: 5 each leg
Forward leg swings: 10 each leg
Side leg swings: 10 each leg
Push-ups: 10-20 reps
Spider-man steps: 10 reps

Our goal isn’t to tire you out, instead we want to warm you up.

That’s step one.

Completing your chosen circuit training routine would be step two.

Below, you’ll find 15 workouts you can follow along with! And if you like our style of workouts, you can check out our coaching program where we’ll customize a circuit routine that fits your life and/or travel schedule:

Short on time? Let us build you a workout program!

Beginner Bodyweight Workout Circuit

This workout circuit, as we lay out in our Beginner Bodyweight Workout article, is as follows:

Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
Push-ups: 10 reps
Walking lunges – 10 each leg
Dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or another weight): 10 each arm.
Plank: 15 seconds
Jumping jacks: 30 reps

Run through this circuit three times. If you don’t have milk in the house for the rows, find something of roughly the same weight with a good handle.

If you want to download this Beginner Bodyweight Workout as a worksheet, you can do so when you sign up in the box below:

Grab Your Beginner Bodyweight Routine Worksheet. No Gym Required!

Complete this workout at home, no equipment required
Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing bodyweight exercises
Learn how to finally get your first pull-up

Want a coach to help every step of the way? Learn more:

Advanced Bodyweight Exercises Circuit

If the beginner circuit above is too easy for you, move on to our Advanced Bodyweight Workout Circuit. The workout looks like this:

One legged squats – 10 each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you’re in good enough shape]
Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
Walking lunges: 20 reps (10 each leg)
Jump step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
Pull-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows]
Dips (between bar stools): 10 reps
Chin-ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows with underhand grip]
Push-ups: 10 reps
Plank: 30 seconds

I warn you, the above circuit will hurt… in a good way. You should be proud if you can get through this three times.

Get a workout program that grows with you! Check out our Coaching Program:

Playground Workout Circuit

Do you have a nearby playground? Why not work out there! If you have kids, you can do it together. Or let them ignore you.

I’ll give you a Level One workout, and a Level Two. Check out the main playground article for some Level Three exercises.

Level One

Alternating step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg)
Elevated push-ups: 10 reps
Swing rows: 10 reps
Assisted lunges: 8 reps each leg
Bent leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

Level Two

Bench jumps: 10 reps
Lower incline push-ups: 10 reps
Body rows: 10 reps
Lunges: 8 reps each leg
Straight leg reverse crunches: 10 reps

After you’ve gone through a complete set three times, go down the slide!

Working out doesn’t have to suck. Let our coaches build you a fun program!

Kettlebell Workout Circuit

Have a kettlebell lying around? Use it for a circuit!

Here’s our kettlebell workout full write-up, but you can also just watch the video and see the workout here:

Halos: 8 reps (each side)
Goblet squats: 10 reps
Overhead presses: 8 reps (each side)
Kettlebell swings: 15 reps
Bent Over Rows: 8 reps (each side)
Front rack reverse lunge: 6 reps (per side)

Once you’ve done the above three times, go ahead and put your kettlebell away for your final step: stretches.

If you want a kettlebell worksheet, grab one by signing up in the box below:

Grab Your Beginner Kettlebell Routine Worksheet!

Complete this workout at home or gym with 1 kettlebell.
Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing kettlebell exercises.
Build strength, burn fat, level up your life!

Want more kettlebell training? Work with one of our coaches

Beginner Gym Circuit Training

If you have access to a gym, you have a lot of circuit options.

If it’s your first time stepping foot in a fitness facility, check out our Beginner’s Guide to the Gym. The gym can be a scary place, but we’ll give you a strategy to get comfy.

We’ll also walk you through each movement for both Days A and B below. I would recommend picking one of our 5 Beginner Gym Workouts, going through the leveled progressions, and working your way up to the circuits below:

DAY A GYM WORKOUT

Day B GYM WORKOUT

Barbell Romanian deadlifts/regular deadlifts: 10 reps
Push-ups: 10 reps
Dumbbell rows: 10 reps per arm

Alternate your circuits on different days. Rest in between. “Day A” could be Monday. Rest Tuesday. Wednesday could be “Day B.”

We LOVE helping people get started in the gym, as we’re huge fans of barbell training and helping beginners build confidence with weight training! If that sounds like you…

Let us help you start weight training with our Coaching Program

And you can download our full Strength 101 guide too, which has this routine along with other circuits to help you start building strength today:

Download our comprehensive guide

Everything you need to know about getting strong.
Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

The Hotel Workout Circuit: For Travelers that Train

Sometimes, you just plain find yourself stuck in a hotel room. Maybe you can find the hotel gym, but I bet it’s terrible! It probably has 2 machines, a broken treadmill, and no free weights. 

Ugh.

Instead, how about a workout circuit you can do in the room itself! Utilize the furniture to its full potential.

Level 1

Level 2

Set the alarm clock to 15 minutes from now and see how many circuits you can do!

Check out our full post on hotel circuits if you want Level 3!

We have a LOT of business travelers in our 1-on-1 coaching program, which is why we create workouts for both their home gym and while traveling!

If you need worldwide accountability, workouts for home and the road, and want expert guidance…

Travel for work? Let us create a travel program to help you stay healthy!

Nerdy Circuit Training Exercises

If those workouts above don’t tickle your fancy, we have these other nerdy circuits you can do too!

The Batman Workout Circuit

Day 1

Rolling squat tuck-up jumps: 5 reps
Side to side push-ups: 5 reps
Modified headstand push-ups: 5 reps
Jump pull-up with tuck / Pull-up with Tuck-up: 5 reps
Handstands against wall: 8 seconds

Day 2

‘180 Degree’ jump turns: 5 reps
Tuck front lever hold: 8 seconds
Tuck back lever hold: 8 seconds
Low frog hold: 8 seconds

Get in shape like Batman with our Online Coaching!

The Lord of the Rings Workout Circuit

Superset 1: The Fellowship of the Ring

Superset 2: The Two Towers

Riders of ROWhan: 3 bodyweight rows
Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” jumps: 7 box jumps – REALLY explode
Helm’s Deep-Squats: 9 bodyweight squats – get your ass to the ground
Tower of Orthanc Holds: 1 minute (Kick up against a wall and hold a handstand for as long as you can until 1 minute is complete, in as few as sets as possible. Check out our Guide to Handstands.)

Superset 3: The Return of the King

If you can get through a superset three times, consider yourself an honorary Ranger. Nothing found in Mordor can faze you.

Our Coaching Program changes lives! Let us change yours today:

The 300 Workout Circuit

The below circuit is no joke. Then again, neither were the Spartans.

Pull-ups: 25 reps
Deadlifts with 135lbs: 50 reps
Push-ups: 50 reps
‘24-inch’ Box jumps: 50 reps
Floor wipers: 50 reps
Single-arm clean-and-press with 36 lbs. kettlebell: 25 each side
Pull-ups: 25 reps

The above sequence is designed to be completed once. If you can go through it twice, you’re ready to defend Greece.

Our coaching program is with you every step of the way. Learn how:

The Wolverine Workout Circuit
Barbell Deadlift / Dumbbell RDL / Banded Good Morning / Regular Good Morning: 10 reps
Medicine Ball Slam / Quick Downwards Bodyweight Squat: 10 reps
Push-up to Renegade row (push-up, row left, push-up, row right, repeat): 5 Rows per side
Transverse Lunge and Chop: 5 reps each side

How many times do you do this circuit? AMRAP, or, As Many Rounds As Possible. I suggest setting a 12 minute timer and getting to work. Be careful though, because only Wolverine can heal automatically.

You’ll need actual rest.

Boom!

There are your nerdy circuits. Feel free to rock the soundtrack of the referenced movies during your workout. If you own a cape, now’s the time.

Want to look like Wolverine? Let our coaches help you reach your goals!

Complete List of Circuit Training Exercises

You can do any of the workouts in this article and get a great workout, but if you want to build your own workout, you can totally do that too!

Here is a list of exercises you can use to create your workout.

Simply pick a few, and do one after the other in as many circuits as you want!

Pick your exercises from this list to build your own circuit training workout, or suggest your own for us to add in the comments below!

CARDIO EXERCISES:

Jump rope
Jumping Jacks
Walking Jacks
Burpees
Mountain climbers
Stairs
Sprints
High knees
Running in place
Rowing machine
Long-distance jumps
Box jumps

UPPER BODY PUSH EXERCISES:

Push-ups (any variation)
Handstands.

UPPER BODY PULL EXERCISES

Dumbbell rows
Bodyweight rows
Negative pull-ups or chin-ups
Pull-ups or Chin-ups

LOWER BODY EXERCISES

Bodyweight squats
Lunges
Kettlebell swings
Farmer carries (carry dumbbells and walk around)

CORE EXERCISES:

Planks
Side planks
Reverse crunches

Pick 3-5 exercises, and arrange them as we discuss in our “how to build your own workout routine.”

Do 3 circuits with 10 reps of each exercise, one after the other!

Have fun and keep things interesting. And if you don’t want to build your own workout, that’s cool too! We have 15 free workouts in this article, and we can also do all the heavy lifting for you.

Well, not literally DO the heavy lifting, but you know what I mean. We create custom workout solutions for busy people just like you in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Let us create a workout and help you make better food choices.

It’s like having a Yoda in your pocket (again, not literally).

Let us create a workout program for you! Learn more about our Coaching Program

How to Stretch After Circuit Training

Once you finish your workout, the final step (three) would be stretching and cool down. No matter what circuit you go through, stretch after a workout. It can help a lot with muscle recovery.

Scope this video for an awesome stretching sequence to follow:

You could also do some yoga poses. For stretching, find what feels good and take your time. Let your heart rate come down while you stretch.

You could even do some foam rolling too if you’re a glutton for punishment!

Work with our Coaches to improve your flexibility! Learn more:

Getting Started With Circuit Training

There are all sorts of different ways to do circuit training. We just showed you fifteen.

YOUR MISSION: Complete one of the above circuit training workouts! If you don’t know which one to pick, start with the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit. It’ll get you used to the idea of hustling from one exercise to the next.

And you can do it in your living room!

If you’re looking for more hands-on instruction and customized guidance, check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who get to know you better than you know yourself, and then build a workout program that is specific to your exact goals.

Simply put, we tell you exactly what to do every day, and how to eat. And then, we check in with you regularly to make sure you’re doing it!

We help busy people get in shape, step by step. Learn more about our Coaching Program!

If you got this far in the article, I really want you to try one of these workouts. Right NOW. I always mention the most important step in a fitness journey is starting it. Today, start circuit training.

Once completed, I’d love for you to share your story with the community in the comments:

How’d it go?
Did you get through three full circuits?
Which routine did you pick?

Find a circuit you’re comfortable with, and do it.

Then do it next week. And the following. And track your progress! 

If you add circuit training to your fitness routine, you’ll be on a solid path for leveling up your life.

-Steve

PS: I couldn’t quite figure out how to use this gif, but it was too good not to include.

If someone creates the “Short Circuit Workout Circuit” you’ll be my best friend forever.

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All Photo credits can be found right here[1].



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