Working out at home and performing the same exercise routine everyday can lose its appeal. Fortunately, initiating modest changes in the way you exercise can enhance motivation. Why not liven up your workouts with a homemade circuit?
Circuit training involves visiting a series of stations, each intended to target different muscles and exercises. Circuits are a cinch to organize and require only a few pieces of key equipment. And a circuit format can facilitate cross training by allowing you to easily incorporate a variety of new moves.
You can organize a circuit with existing home gym equipment by creating a resistance circuit using inexpensive tubing, hand-held weights, a stability ball and a SitFit pad. If you have one or more cardio machines, consider a combination muscular endurance and cardio circuit. Alternate between several stations of muscular endurance and longer cardio sessions. Or, complete your cardio and then carry out a resistance training circuit.
You can also achieve a total body workout using only a stability ball and your own body weight. Exercises like push-ups, squats, abdominal curls and calf raises are simple and effective with a ball.
Or, transform common household items into fitness equipment. Plastic bottles and jugs filled with water, or cans of beans work as light hand weights for the upper body. Holding these make-shift dumbbells during lower body movements also adds more resistance. Be imaginative, but exercise caution. Obviously, avoid breakable bottles, sharp objects or unstable furniture.
Creating a circuit at home requires special attention to safety measures. Avoid propulsive movements like ski jumps or skipping on a slippery carpet, floor or concrete surface. Make sure you have a clear, open space to assemble stations. Be prepared to temporarily move furniture aside. If you have limited space, consider a fixed circuit that doesn't require movement from station to station. If you opt for a stationary set-up, remember to clear unnecessary equipment out of the way before each new drill.
Choosing an appropriate time to spend at each station will depend on your fitness goals and the circuit's focus. Plan for most drills to last anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, or even longer for cardio segments. You may find that a 30-second period is too short for some exercises, but several minutes is too long for others. Play with the timing until you find a time span that is appropriate for your needs and level. Allow 10-15 seconds for travel between stations.
Amanda Vogel, MA