6 Short Full Body Circuit Options for Fast Fitness

Skipping a workout or rushing to fit in a quick gym session happens all too often when life gets busy. But even as work, family, or other obligations start to pile up, consider the following quick circuit.

This circuit is based on working the body’s muscle groups broken down by push-pull-legs-core-cardio. It’s up to you what exercises you want to do, but a short set of 1 to 2 minutes of each can be a quick 10 to 15 minute pump that makes you feel like you’ve at least done something fitness related that day .

You can do the following as rhythmic gymnastics on your own without using equipment or machines, or add dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, or hanging exercises (TRX).

Pushing Exercises: Push-ups, dips, military press, bench press, tricep curl, tricep push-up, kickback, skull crunch, and light shoulder training are all great choices for upper body pushers: chest, shoulders, and triceps. Choose a few of them and do a maximum number of repetitions or a specific set for 1 to 2 minutes.

Pulling Exercises: Pull-ups, dips, rows, bicep curls, rope climbs, and other upper-body stretching exercises work your grip, forearms, back, and biceps. Pick a few and do a maximum number of repetitions or a specific set for 1 to 2 minutes.

Leg Exercises: Squats, lunges, lunges, leg presses, leg extensions, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, split squats and other stepping or jumping exercises. Pick a few and do a maximum number of repetitions or a specific set for 1 to 2 minutes.

Core: Almost every movement works the “core” since the core starts at the neck and is everything between the hips. Check out this breakdown of the main system for multiple options. You can consider many of the exercises above as core activity. But if you want to focus on your abs and lower back, mix in plank poses, side planks, hanging knees, crunches, swimmers, and more. Pick a few and do a maximum number of repetitions or a timed set of 1 to 2 minutes.

Combined exercises (or Full Body) that will let you get a two-for-one deal: Consider the following for a hybrid exercise to save even more time: burpees, multi-joint Db exercises, bear crawls, thrusters, burpee pull-ups, jumping pull-ups, firefighter wear, sandbag run and many other options if you are creative enough. Pick a few and do a maximum number of repetitions or a specific set for 1 to 2 minutes.

Cardio: If you circuit the movement without rest from one exercise to the next, only resting muscle groups, you will find that this is a form of intense cardio. If you have a treadmill, bike, rower, or other cardio machine, you can mix in 1- to 2-minute sets between the exercise categories above as an active rest. Or you can just push yourself for 10 to 15 minutes if you prefer something fast and challenging.

Hopefully you don’t have to resort to short workouts too many times a week, but just know that you can do something in 10 to 15 minutes, even if it’s just a walk around the office parking lot, that will help you loosen up from the tension and come back more productive. Your body – and mind – will thank you.

— Stu Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his fitness e-book store if you want to start an exercise program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected].

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