Circuit workouts are great for strength training, but they also keep your heart rate up, helping burn up calories while building muscle. This full-body circuit combines exercises to work your arms while toning your legs, plus your abs and back will all be challenged. And you can do this workout in the comfort of your living room!

Not only is an at-home workout excuse-proof, it is also recession-proof since it is free and will only cost you calories! It takes about 20 minutes to do, and for the workout all you need is a set of dumbbells between five and eight pounds. If you don’t have weights, you can still give it a go.

Instructions: After warming up with light cardio for five minutes, repeat each three-exercise circuit twice, resting for 60 seconds after completing one rep of an entire circuit.

Circuit One: Narrow Squat With Overhead Press

  • Begin standing with your legs together, arms raised to shoulder height with elbows bent, holding weights by your ears.
  • Squat toward the floor by bending your knees and reaching your bum back, as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your legs squeezing together. Focus your weight into your heels. While squatting, raise your arms overhead into a parallel position.
  • Return to starting position by pressing through your heels while bending your elbows to lower the weights back to shoulder level.

Do 15 reps

Circuit One: Plank With Reverse Row

  • Open your legs wider than hip distance apart; you will need this wide base of support.
  • Keep your abdominals lifting away from the ground. Pull your navel to your spine to activate your core!
  • Reach through your heels to activate your glutes. They should be engaged but not squeezed together.
  • Exhale and stabilize your torso as you lift your right elbow up. Place your right weight back on the ground, and lift your left elbow. This completes one set.

Do 10 sets

Circuit One: Side Lunge

  • Stand with your feet and knees together, hands on your hips.
  • Take a large step with your right foot to the right side and lunge toward the floor. Allow your upper body to bend forward, creasing at the hips, not rounding your spine.
  • Make sure your right knee does not extend past your toes and keep your left leg relatively straight.
  • Push off through your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat by stepping out to the left. This completes one set.

Do 12 sets

Circuit Two: Plié Squat With Side Arm Raises

  • Stand with legs wide and toes pointed outward slightly. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands with your arms straight and your palms facing down.
  • Bend your knees until your knees are over your ankles while raising arms to just below shoulder height. Arms should be in line with your legs — you should see the weights in your peripheral vision.
  • Straighten your legs and lower your arms simultaneously.

Do 15 reps

Circuit Two: Side Plank Push-Up

  • Start sitting on your left side with legs almost straight and right leg crossed in front of the left leg. Inhale to prepare.
  • Exhale, pull your abs to your spine and lift your pelvis off the floor, coming into a side plank. Really lift your bottom hip up. Pull your shoulder blade down your back so your shoulder stays away from your ear (this will work your lat too).
  • Hold for five seconds. Lower your pelvis back to floor slowly and with control. Repeat a total of 10 times on each side. Do two sets.

Do 10 on each side

Circuit Two: Backward Lunge With Bicep Curls

  • To begin, your feet should be shoulder width apart, torso erect, with arms hanging straight at your sides, palms facing in.
  • Take a slow, controlled lunge (or large step) backward with your left foot.
  • Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor. At this point your right knee should be positioned directly over your ankle and your right foot should be pointing straight ahead.
  • Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
  • After reaching the bottom of the movement (when your left knee is almost touching the floor), do a bicep curl.
  • As you lower your arms, press with your back foot to return to starting position. Switch legs and repeat on the other side. This completes one set.

Do 10 sets

Circuit Three: Seated Russian Twist

  • Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your heels about two feet from your bum.
  • Lean slightly back without rounding your spine at all. It is really important, and difficult, to keep your back straight, but don’t let it round.
  • Place your arms straight out in front of you with your hands one on top of the other. Your hands should be level with the bottom of your ribcage.
  • Pull your navel to your spine and twist slowly to the left. The movement is not large and comes from the ribs rotating, not from your arms swinging. Inhale through center and rotate to the right. This completes one set.

Do 16 sets

Circuit Three: Scissor Abs

  • Lie flat on your back. You can extend your arms so they’re against the sides of your body with your palms pressing into the floor, or you can place your hands under your pelvis.
  • Now bend your knees and draw them into your ribs. This will make it easier to pull your navel in toward your spine and actively press your lower back flat on the ground.
  • Now lift both legs straight up toward the ceiling, continuing to engage your abs and press your lower back into the ground.
  • Keeping your abs engaged, slowly lower your right leg down toward the ground, until it is a few inches above. Then scissor your legs, so you lift your right leg back up as you lower your left leg down toward the ground. This completes one set. Don’t let your back come away from the floor.

Do 15 to 20 sets

Circuit Three: Superman

  • Lie face down on your stomach with arms and legs extended. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Keeping your arms and legs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form an elongated “u” shape with your body — back arched and arms and legs several inches off the floor.
  • Hold 30 seconds.

Repeat three times

(Source: fitsugar.com)

This post is posted on Wednesday 18 April 2012.
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