If you are trying to start your exercise regime or are just looking for a no frills workout, here is a Bodyweight Circuit Training workout that you can perform with minimal to no equipment at all.
Circuit training might be the exercise of choice for busy people who also want to train both their aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Circuit training is also a good way to boost your metabolism, which in turn leads to more calories burnt compared to typical resistance training. However, to reap the full benefits of a High Intensity Interval Training workout (which includes circuit training), the total volume should be high, which makes it somewhat reserved for the elite exerciser or professional athlete. But don’t despair! Circuit training can be adapted for the novice exerciser who can still gain the benefits of an effective workout in less time.
For this circuit exercise, you may want to use an exercise mat, especially if you don’t like hurting your knees or tailbone while doing exercises on the floor. If you don’t have one, you can use a big towel for exercises on the floor. For additional resistance, try filling two regular 500ml/1L water bottles, as long as you can hold on to them while doing the exercises.
Remember to warm-up properly by doing slow head rotations, arm circles (forward and back), arm cross overs, alternating leg/foot reach while standing, lunges, and jumping jacks. Try for around 10 to 12 repetitions of each movement. The warm up is important to make sure that your body is ready for more work and so that your heart is prepared for the stress from the exercises. If you are new to exercise, add a few more repetitions to warm-up for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you’re warmed up and ready, here’s the body weight circuit workout that you can do at home:
Start by performing 12 repetitions or 12 counts for each exercise for your first set. If you feel 12 reps is too easy, you can do 15 to 20 reps for each exercise on your next sets. If you feel that it’s too hard or you can’t finish up to 12 repetitions of each while maintaining proper form, try doing 8 to 10 repetitions of each for your next sets.
• Jumping Jacks for a metabolic start. Hold one water bottle for each hand and perform moderate to fast jumping jacks.
• Wall Squats. Lean with your back against the wall and squat down until your legs are bent to about 90 degrees. Hold the squat position for 12 slow counts. You can hold on to your water bottles for this one, but for additional intensity, you can alternate lifting your heels.
• Stand from your squat position and perform bicep curls using your water bottles. Try this with either one arm at a time or both arms at the same time.
• Next, move to alternating front and lateral arm raises with your water bottles. With both arms straight, lift them up sideways to shoulder level and bring them down, then lift both arms again to shoulder level but this time bring them in front of you and return them to your sides. That counts as one repetition. Do 12 to 15 repetitions for bicep curls and arm raises.
• Crawl Leg Extension. Drop to your hands and knees to a crawl to work the back of your legs and your buttocks. Do a minimum of 12 repetitions, one leg at a time. This exercise also works your core muscles – abdominal and back – if you maintain proper form while kicking by not letting your tummy or your chest sag.
• Lie on your side and perform Side-lying Leg Lifts. Lying on one side with your shoulders on top of each other and the bottom arm supporting your head, align your spine by making a straight line from your bottom foot to your hips and to your shoulders and head. Lift the top leg up and slowly lower it down. Do a minimum of 12 repetitions for each leg.
• If you have access to stairs, quickly run to perform the Stair Climb with Overhead Raise. Yes, this includes an arm exercise so if you forgot your water bottles, go back and grab them! Holding on to your equipment, reach both arms straight up and overhead, reaching towards the ceiling without arching your back. Keep your arms up as you do moderate to fast stair climbing. Start with your right foot. After a minimum of 12 steps, continue performing the exercise but this time start with your left foot. Your core muscles are also challenged in this exercise as you keep your arms up and your spine stable throughout the exercise. This exercise is great for your posture!
• Catch your breath and then lie down on your back to do the Hip Bridge also known as the Glute bridge. As the name implies, this mainly works your glutes, but this exercise has been included to this circuit for another purpose. If you have been sitting all day or haven’t been stretching regularly, then you might be having chronic lower back pain. Lower back pain sometimes arises from tightness on your hip flexors – the muscles opposite your lower back (i.e., in front of you), which connects from your pelvis to your spine. The hip bridge alleviates the tightness by placing a good stretch on the hip flexors. It also challenges your core muscles to stabilize the position of the exercise. Make sure that your knees are aligned with your hips when you push your hips up to the bridge position. You can intensify this exercise by reaching your arms overhead and placing them on the mat. This adds a stretch to your upper back and shoulders. When you reach this position, lower your hips without touching the mat and then push your hips up again to a bridge position. Do this for a minimum of 12 repetitions.
• Straighten your legs then roll over onto your belly to perform Dry Swimming. This is a great Pilates exercise that you can add to your circuit to work out your back muscles and shoulders. Hold on to your water bottles and straighten both arms and legs. Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles engaged by ‘sucking in‘ your belly button all throughout the exercise. Keep your gaze down on your mat as you reach both arms and legs up. And as the name implies, alternately lift and lower opposing arms and legs, as if you’re swimming on land. Count at least to 12 seconds for this exercise.
• End the circuit with a nice Front Plank. If you’re starting and haven’t done a plank before, hold it for at least 15 to 20 seconds. If you’re more experienced, hold the plank for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
• Rest and stretch by dropping into the prayer position, kneeling with your feet relaxed and your hips almost touching your heels. Curl your spine down and reach your arms straight and forward. Relax your shoulders every time you exhale on slow breaths for 15 counts.
That concludes one set of 10 easy body weight exercises for your home circuit workout. Rest for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute before performing another set. Try 3 sets of this routine to reap maximum results. You can do this 2 to 3 times a week for around 2 weeks, gradually increasing the intensity, then you will be ready for a more intense circuit.