Some people have limited time in their busy days to exercise. Others think that working out for 60 minutes is tiresome. In either scenario, finding the time or energy to take an entire fitness class can be a challenge. Providing efficient workouts that take less time can encourage these folks to get to the gym. Another big benefit: shorter workouts can also yield many of the same psychological and physiological benefits as longer ones. The goal of an “express” workout is to provide an intense, challenging, yet safe class that is simple to follow and requires minimal setup and equipment.
Circuit routines, which combine timed blocks of cardiovascular and strength training in one class, are time-
efficient, fun and safe for both novice and more advanced participants.
Format: This is a stationary circuit, which means all exercises are executed
simultaneously—as a group—with the
instructor leading (no stations). Following a 3- to 5-minute warm-up, the main workout comprises three blocks of time-based cardio segments and repetition-based strength exercises for both upper and lower body. The class concludes with 2–3 minutes of core training and 2–3 minutes of cool-down and static stretches.
Total Time: 30 minutes
Music: 124–140 beats per minute
Equipment (per person): one set of resistance tubing that can be held in hands for the duration of the workout
Warm-Up (3–5 minutes)
This segment mimics lower-intensity versions of exercises in the main workout. You can choose to perform these either rhythmically or athletically. Hold tubing in both hands, pulling it to create constant resistance.
- Stationary squat: squat, and push tubing onto thighs, engaging middle-back and rear deltoid muscles. Extend arms overhead on way up (shoulder extension).
- Moving squats: perform 2 frontal squats with feet hip width apart, then 2 squats moving right (R) and 2 squats moving left (L).
- Hip hinge with rear deltoid flye: bend or fold at hip, with soft knees. Reach arms toward ceiling.
- Slow squat = 32 counts.
- 8 tempo squats = 32 counts.
- 2 moving tempo squats R and 2 moving tempo squats L, 4x = 32 counts.
- Tubing push-down and pull-back into legs combined with moving tempo squats, 4x = 32 counts.
- 2 slow hip hinges = 16 counts (see warm-up exercises above for explanation of movements).
- 2 hip hinges: hold down 3 counts, up on 4 = 16 counts.
- 2 moving tempo squats R, then 1 slow hip hinge—down on 1, hold 6 counts, up on 8 (repeat L) = 32 counts.
Layer in rear deltoid flye on counts 3 and 4 of hip hinge.
- Perform final warm-up combination, alternating sides 2–4 times.
For all strength moves, which alternate between lower and upper body, complete 16 repetitions (4 slow, 8 tempo, 4 slow). Hold tubing in hands while performing cardio drills for 1 minute.
- Stationary lunge, R leg: secure tubing under right foot, bend elbows and pull toward waist to create resistance.
- Shoulder lateral raise: secure tubing under feet, hold handles and raise arms out to sides.
- Cardio drill: shuffle 4 counts, R and L.
- Stationary lunge, L leg: secure tubing under L foot.
- Bent-over shoulder extension: secure tubing under feet, hinge at hip, press extended arms up and back to engage middle-back muscles.
- Cardio drill: shuffle and touch floor 4 counts, R and L.
- Single-leg hip hinge, R leg: double-wrap tubing around R foot, bend and pull elbows to waist to create resistance. Start with bilateral hip hinge, then shift weight to R leg by lifting L heel first, then L foot. Progress movement by executing movement on single leg, with entire L foot lifted.
- Biceps curl: secure tubing under feet, palms up, elbows bent.
- Cardio drill: bound up 4x, jog back 8x = 16 counts.
- Single-leg hip hinge, L leg: repeat as above on opposite leg.
- Alternating shoulder press: secure tubing under one foot, and complete 16 presses with each arm (32 reps total).
- Cardio drills: bound up 4x, double jogs back = 16 counts.
- Single-leg squat, R leg: double-wrap tubing around R foot, shift weight to R leg by lifting heel of L foot.
- Shoulder front raise: secure tubing under foot, and raise extended arms to front.
- Cardio drill: fast feet/V-step, R foot lead: start with slow out-out, in-in, and progressively increase speed.
- Single-leg squat, L leg: repeat as above, on opposite leg.
- Rear deltoid flye: secure tubing under feet, hinge at hip, and raise arms out to sides to work middle-back muscles.
- Cardio drill: fast feet/V-step, L foot lead.
Cool-Down (2–6 minutes)
March in place and step-touch for 30 seconds or more to lower intensity and heart rate; then recover.
- Prone elbow plank: hold 15–30 seconds (2 sets).
- Side elbow plank: hold 15–30 seconds (2 sets).
- Ab crunches, if time permits.
Hold stretches for 10–20 seconds, and be sure to include the following areas:
- hamstrings, calves, glutes and lower back
- chest, biceps, triceps and anterior
- quadriceps and hip flexors
- back extensors
- To increase intensity, keep recovery between exercises short.
- To shorten cool-down, briefly and statically stretch muscles between exercises.
- To increase resistance for lower-body strength exercises, double-wrap tubing around foot.
- Start by holding tubing with both hands and wrap it over shoe laces, then loop under instep and around foot.
- Note that all single-leg exercises can be modified by executing movements on both legs.
- To retain the time-efficient aspect of class, keep equipment setup and exercise complexity to a minimum.