Get Your Cardio With Low-Impact Circuit Training

Traditional cardio workouts include running, biking, indoor machines, or high-impact exercises. Unless you’re training for a specific event, for general health and fat loss, circuits are safer and far more effective.

What is circuit training? It’s a series of resistance exercises performed one after another with minimal rest. A simple cardio circuit will not only give you the same cardio benefits of running but will:

  • Develop better muscle tone – with the use of resistance such as weights and bands

  • Increase your metabolic rate, so you burn more fat, even after your workout

  • Prevent overuse injuries – through a variety of low-impact exercises using all body parts

  • Take a fraction of the time – because it gives some parts of the body time to rest while you’re exercising other parts

  • Give you mobility and strength needed for daily life – with functional movements that utilize different muscle groups

Here’s a 20-minute resistance training cardio circuit you can do anywhere with just your body weight and a mini-band. Perform 12-20 reps of each exercise (6-10 each side) with no rest until the circuit is complete. Repeat for a total of two sets.

  1. Prisoner squat to lateral steps – start with your feet hip-width apart, a mini-band around your ankles, and hands behind your head. Sit back into a squat as if you were sitting into a chair, using your abs for stability. Rise back up almost to standing, squeezing your gluteal muscles, and take three steps to the left, keeping both hips level as you step. Repeat with squat and steps to the right.

  2. Pushup to side plank with leg raise – with a mini-band around your feet, start in a plank position and lower your chest to the floor with your upper arms at about 45 degrees from your body. Push up and shift your weight to your right hand, turning your body into a side plank. Lift your left leg off the ground, pulling on the mini-band. Lower your leg, return to a plank, and repeat on the other side.

  3. Superman with overhead pull-apart – lie on your stomach with your arms straight above your head, holding a mini-band. Tighten your stomach, push your shoulders away from your ears, and lift your arms, head and legs a few inches from the ground, keeping your eyes looking down. Pull the band apart. Release, lower and repeat.

  4. Step back lunge with pull-apart – stand with your legs hip-width apart and your arms straight ahead holding a mini-band. Step back with one leg into a lunge while pulling the band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Release, return to standing and repeat with your other leg.

  5. Floor bridge with abduction – lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the ground, and band around your legs just above your knees. Point your arms toward the sky with palms together. Engage your abdominals, squeeze your gluteal muscles and raise your hips off the ground, so they’re in line with your shoulder blades and knees. Keep your shoulder blades pressed into the ground and hips lifted as you repetitively pull your knees apart.

  6. Plank row – start in a plank position with your shoulders, hips and ankles all in line, body straight and feet slightly wider than your hips. Grip a mini-band with both hands. Engage your abdominals, shift your weight to your left hand, and row up and back with your right arm, bending at your elbow as you pull your shoulder back and down toward your hip. Lower your hand and repeat on the other side.

  7. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat the circuit.

Jennifer Slaboda