My workouts vary from longer sessions with a focus on 2 or 3 muscle groups and shorter, circuit training workouts. I train based on how I feel that day and based on what yoga classes I plan to take that week to balance it all out. This week’s YouTube video was a mashup of a lower body and upper body circuit. The clips were outtakes from the training video I posted on March 7th. I post a new video every week so if you haven’t subscribed, you can do so here!
Here’s a breakdown of the circuit –
*start and end each workout with a warm-up and cool down
Lower Body Circuit
This is a 4-part resistance and plyometric circuit with a focus on the glutes, hamstrings and quads. Here are a few ways you can incorporate this circuit into your next leg day workout –
- Complete the circuit as its own workout. Like my demo, you would complete 10 reps per leg of the single leg stiff legged deadlifts and the lateral lunges. Then do 5 to 10 of the double kettlebell swings and 10 walk-outs. That entire circuit is 1 complete set and you can repeat 3-4 rounds with minimal rest between sets.
- Use the circuit as active rest. Active rest is taking a break from the main exercise but continuing to move to keep your heart rate up. You can complete a round of these exercises between other weight lifting exercises as a period of active rest. For example, you might do a set of weighed squats and then a round of lateral lunges on each leg.
- Replace traditional cardio. Instead of hopping on the treadmill or elliptical, complete a few rounds of this circuit instead. You can start with the walk-outs and double kettlebell swings and end with the lateral lunges and stiff-leg deadlifts. Lots of ways to mix it up!
- Mix and match. Take the moves you like and mix them in with a workout of your choice. Training upper body? Use the walk-outs and kettlebell swing. Training legs? Do the lunges and stiff leg deadlifts as part of that workout.
The Moves –
1. Single leg stiff leg deadlifts – I like holding a weight in each hand to steady my balance but you might try 1 heavy kettlebell or dumbbell, or a barbell with a reverse grip (1 palm facing up and 1 palm facing down) to keep your shoulders level. Keep your neck long and your spine neutral by fixing your gaze slightly out in front of you throughout the move.
Muscles worked – glutes, low back and primarily the hamstrings of the stationary leg
2. Lateral lunges – Push off the heel of the working leg and challenge yourself to keep that leg lifted throughout the entire move. Land softly in a lunge with both toes aligned with your knees. Keep your chest upright and sit back onto your heels to protect your knees.
Muscles worked – glutes and primarily the quads of the working leg
3. Kettlebell swing with kettlebell front raise – 1 traditional kettlebell swing into a squat with kettlebell front raise using only the arms and shoulders. I’m doing a sort of double swing here because that helps me keep the momentum under control. Pick a weight that challenges you in the traditional swing but that you can easily lift in the arms-only swing. I’m using 15lbs.
4. Walk-outs to high plank with jump – Also known as inch worms, squat low and walk your hands out until you’re in a high plank. Hold the plank for a few seconds, walk your hands back until you can stand up and jump immediately. The lower you stay the easier it is to jump and get right back to the walk-out.
Muscles worked – shoulders and primarily core
Upper Body Circuit
Perfect for crowded gym days when you only have access to the cable tower. Sometimes that’s not so bad because you can set up each exercise ahead of time and move quickly between exercises without much adjusting. These exercises target your back and shoulders.
I love the cable machines because they provide constant resistance for the muscles unlike training with dumbbells where your muscles get a few seconds break in each rep. Muscles respond to tension.
- Complete 3 rounds with 10-12 reps per exercise.
1. Low cable rows – Bend slightly at your waist and keep your elbows close to your body as you squeeze your elbows back past your waist to engage your upper back muscles. I’m using the V-shaped handle in the video below. Wider handles like this allow you to pull the weight close to your body without hitting your stomach or chest with the handle.
2. Standing lat press (or push) downs – This move targets both your lats and your triceps. Using the straight bar and from shoulder height, keep your core tight and squeeze your triceps to engage your lats as you push the bar down toward your thighs. This can quickly become a tiring shoulder workout if you don’t engage (squeeze) your back muscles. Keep your wrists neutral (no bend/crease at your wrist) as you press the bar down.
3. Upright rows – This targets your shoulders and traps. Throughout the move, your elbows are higher than your wrists and your wrists are under your chin. Pause (squeeze) at the top. Similar to the low cable rows, I’m using an attachment with a wider opening so I don’t bump my stomach or chest.
4. Face pulls – Specifically targets the rear delts for well-rounded shoulder strength and definition. The name comes from the movement – pulling the center of the rope toward your face. I like a split stance here to balance the constant resistance of the cable with my bodyweight.
See it all in action in this video –
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Happy training 🙂