Building a circuit workout you can live with

I HATE circuit workouts.

Remember this? This is the only exercise video I ever learned to do all the way through.

Remember this? This is the only exercise video I ever learned to do all the way through.

I’m not one of those people who can “sight read” an exercise video, so it takes me a while to learn one well enough to follow along. Usually I run out of patience long before that happens. In fact, the only workout video I ever actually “learned” was a Jane Fonda step aerobics video back in the 1980s.

But my Mondays are super busy, so one of those 20-minute high-intensity circuit workouts that work a bunch of muscles is a good fit on those days – especially during Janathon, when I’m trying to do something every single day.

The workout I’ve been doing this month might be the one that gets me over the hump, though, because I’m building it myself, using simple moves I already know.

I’ve written before about Dr. Temple Grandin’s philosophy of improving oneself  by “building from the ground up” (improving on past successes) rather than “from the top down” (struggling to emulate others). This really works for me, in all areas of my life where I’ve applied it. So when it came to building a circuit workout from the ground up, I started with what I already had in my fitness repertoire.

My primary concern was getting my heart rate up. For that, I went with 5-minute chunks of step aerobics. Then I added two simple moves that nonetheless are challenging, at least to me: Planks and kettle bell squats.

The first couple of times, that was it – just wash, rinse, repeat for four sets.

Because I knew what to do – and knew I could do it – I attacked this workout with confidence. Then the fun part began: adding moves that sounded fun or ramped up the intensity (or both).

So far the keepers are kettlebell windmills and skipping while dribbling a basketball. (The floor in our rec room is concrete). I’ve also tinkered with the planks, switching from forearms on-the-ground to more of a pushup style because that made it more like a yoga position. And that was a huge morale boost, because instead of straining through the planks I began to take slow, deep yoga breaths that made them much more workable.

I don’t recommend this circuit workout to anyone else. Build your own. You’ll like it better and do it more often.

Janathon update:

Day 19 – circuit workout

Day 20 – 20-minute treadmill ladder run, followed by basketball drills and a game of one-on-one with Colleen at the Y.


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2 Responses to Building a circuit workout you can live with

  1. Martha B says:

    I definitely agree that when it comes to short efficient workouts you have to do what you physically CAN do. That’s why I never got into Zumba. I wasn’t interested enough to learn routines well enough to get a good workout out of it. On the other hand, my struggle with building my own workout is not pushing myself hard enough – I know there are things that I am not great at that I SHOULD improve on (pull ups, push ups, overhead squats), but I try and save those for a day when I’m not trying to get in as quick of a workout as possible. Great post, and good job with your Janathon compliance! Have a great week!

  2. tischcaylor says:

    I’m just trying to picture what the heck an overhead squat is… Never mind, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know!

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