Sample Class: Cardio–Strength Circuit

by Fred Hoffman, MEd on Nov 22, 2017

Circuit training remains popular—not surprisingly, since it provides an integrated and accessible full-body workout. This 10-station circuit alternates bouts of moderate-intensity cardio activities with strength training moves that target all the major muscle groups. The class incorporates five pieces of equipment; however, be as creative as you wish: Use whatever small studio equipment is available, or design the class with body-weight exercises only.

Cardio–Strength Circuit Details

FORMAT: a multistation cardio/strength training circuit, intermediate level

TIME: 20–50 minutes (45–60 seconds per station; 2–3 cycles)

MUSIC: 128–132 beats per minute. Choose music that motivates! Working on the beat is an option, not an obligation.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: This class incorporates step platforms, BOSU® Balance Trainers, Body Bars®, stability balls and Gliding™ discs, but you can use whatever is available! The instructor needs a whistle and a stopwatch or timer app.


  • Create signs with abbreviated explanations of the exercises, and place the signs on the floor in front of the corresponding stations, or tape them to the wall. Use large text for easy reading, and provide several copies to accommodate large numbers of participants.
  • Before class, quickly review proper use of the equipment and demonstrate each move.
  • Ensure that all participants understand the importance of maintaining good body alignment and core engagement.
  • Emphasize proper body mechanics and technique during class with verbal and visual cues.
  • Encourage participants to work at their own pace.
  • Throughout the workout, call out duration cues such as “You’re at 40 seconds” or “15 seconds left to go.”
  • Most important: Have fun!

Warmup (4–6 minutes)

Use movements that prepare the joints and muscles for the forces and mechanics of the selected exercises. Suggestions: knee lifts, basic squats, reverse lunges, arm circles, small hops side to side, hamstring curls, gentle torso rotations and overhead arm reaches.

Cardio-Strength Circuit (20–50 minutes)

STRENGTH: Mountain Climber on Stability Ball

Start position: on knees, forearms on ball

How-to: From hands and knees, forearms on ball, roll out until legs are extended in plank position. Do mountain climber 8x, then lower knees to floor. Return to start and repeat.

CARDIO: Curtsy Lunges With Gliding Discs

Start position: standing on discs, knees bent, torso flexed slightly forward

How-to: Perform alternating dynamic backward lunges, crossing behind diagonally (curtsy lunge). Push arms out in front to same side as leg that’s crossing back (for example, arms push right as R foot crosses back).

STRENGTH: Hip Abduction/Adduction With Gliding Discs

Start position: from pushup, arms and legs extended, discs under toes

How-to: Slide R leg out to side, return to start, and repeat L, in alternating hip abduction and adduction, 8x. Follow with bilateral movement, 8x (both legs abduct and adduct simultaneously, like a plank jack).

CARDIO: Alternating Knee-Up With Propulsion on Step

Start position: standing in straddle position, with step lengthwise between feet

How-to: Step up, lift opposite knee and hop on step, down, down, repeat, other foot, 4x. Follow with squat jump on step platform, walk down 4x (bend knees, jump onto platform, walk down to start).

STRENGTH: Dynamic Bridge on Stability Ball

Start position: supine bridge position on floor, hips lifted, knees bent, both feet on top of ball (relatively close to buttocks)

How-to: Keeping hips lifted, make small circular motion with feet and legs R, 6x; then L, 6x. Extend knees, straighten legs and move ball away from buttocks. Flex knees, return to start, 6x. Repeat all.

CARDIO: Sliding Jumping Jacks on Discs

Start position: standing, feet on gliding discs

How to: Slide feet apart and together laterally with small rebound, arms lifting overhead, 16x. Follow with cross-country skiing, 16x (one foot slides forward and the other back, arms moving naturally in opposition to feet).

For more strength and cardio stations, please see “Sample Class: Cardio-Strength Circuit ” in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2017 print edition of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Fred Hoffman, MEd

Fred Hoffman, MEd IDEA Author/Presenter

Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., is the owner of Fitness Resources Consulting Services and the author of Going Global: An Expert’s Guide to Working Abroad in the International Fitness Industry. The recipient of the 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Award, Fred holds a Master’s Degree in Health Education from Boston University and has over thirty years of experience in the fitness and health industry. Fred is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and from 2013 to 2016 he served as a member of the ACE Industry Advisory Panel. Fred’s expertise has taken him to nearly 50 countries on six continents to speak at more than 200 conferences and conventions. In 2001 he was elected to the International Who's Who of Professionals. Certifications: ACE and ACSM Education provider for: ACE