So you’ve decided you want to improve your overall athleticism, but you aren’t sure where to start. Below is one of my favorite circuit training routines geared towards increasing endurance, strength, and speed with minimal time spent in the gym. I will include three exercises (beginner [B], intermediate [I], and advanced [A]) so that something is included for all shapes, sizes, and gym experience.
How it works
Five exercises, one minute each geared towards a full body workout. Preform as many repetitions (reps) per exercise per minute as possible. There is no rest in between minutes, but you will allow yourself a three minute rest between your three, five minute “rounds”. Keep a running tally of how many reps you have preformed overall, ex. First minute I did thirty-five push-ups, second minute I did one hundred crunches, my total score so far would be one hundred and thirty-five. In between each five minute round write down your score. The objective here is to learn how hard you can push yourself WHILE learning to pace yourself as well. If you score 500+ in the first round, but second round you drop to 250, followed by a third round score of 100, you went too hard the first round. Each round score should be close to each other, with a slight increase in score, ex. 300 > 350 > 400. If you get to the end of the three rounds and feel like you could go again, you didn’t push yourself as hard as you could have. This routine should be preformed two to three times per week with a day of rest minimum in between.
- [B]Reverse push-up – Push up position, keeping your body flat lower yourself slowly until you are laying flat on the ground, return to the original starting position and lower yourself steadily again while bracing with your core. This is a great beginner exercise for those who can’t preform a full range of motion push-up. [I]Push-up – With hands shoulder width apart, brace your core and slowly lower yourself until your chest and core are both approx. two inches from the ground, and with an explosive and steady movement, extend your arms back to the starting position. [A]Burpee – Lower your butt to the ground in a squat position, place your hands directly in front of your feet and kick your legs out into a push-up position. Preform a push-up and explode with your feet back to your hands, returning to the squat position, jump up clapping your hands above your head. Repeat.
- Crunch/Sit-up – Regular sit-ups will suffice. If you feel you are more advanced raise your feet off the ground and crunch your knees to your chest without letting your feet touch the ground.
- [B]Body weight squat – Pick a high point on a wall to focus on in order to help keep your back straight. Place your feet shoulder width apart with toes slightly angled out. Slowly squat until your thighs are parallel with the floor, press your heels into the ground and stand back up. Do not lock your knees out at the top. [I]/[A]Box Jumps/Squat Jumps – Find a box about knee/mid thigh high off the ground. Squat low and explode jumping onto the box and landing in a squat position. Step down safely and repeat. If no box is available lower yourself into squat position, explode digging your heels into the ground and jump, raising your knees as high as you can trying to jump and touch them to your chest.
- [B/I/A]Barbell shoulder press – Using the appropriate weight, place your hands a little more than shoulder width apart on the bar. Rest the bar on your chest and step one leg back for balance. Brace your core and push the bar straight up above your head stopping right before your elbows lock out and immediately lower the bar back to starting position. Add weight as necessary.
- [B]Assisted reverse grip pull-ups – Most gyms have an assisted pull-up machine. If yours does not however, find a chair and place it under the pull up bar. Grab the bar with your palms facing back, and using your legs with the chair to assist you, maintain a tight grip and pull your elbows down to your stomach raising your chest to the bar. [I/A] Reverse grip pull up – Grab the pull up bar with a reverse grip, remember to pull with your arms and use your back along WITH your biceps. Rest as needed and maintain solid form.
Wrapping it all up
Your rest period should be no more than three minutes and no less than two. Preform this routine two to three times a week for a month. If you are an athlete your goal should be to increase your total over-all score each week. If you are just starting out set your own personal goals. Maybe you want to be able to preform a real push up, or a real pull up at the end of the month. Remember keep a journal, and take those before and after pictures! The great thing about this work out is it gives you an overall idea of the shape you are in, and helps you challenge yourself to increase your endurance and muscle strength. I’d love to hear from anyone who tries this and see some of the results or scores you get over the course of the month. Remember to stay dedicated to the routine and as always, stay strong, stay healthy, stay happy!