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Sample Class: Quick Conditioning Circuits

Eliminate the lack-of-time excuse with this 30-minute blast.

Circuit class

A lack of time is a common excuse people give for not consistently working out. Truthfully, it can be hard to carve out a full hour for exercise, even for the most devoted among us. If this is an obstacle to your students’ success, why not add an express workout to your movement menu?

This quick conditioning circuit class includes all the ingredients necessary to help people reach their fitness goals. Cycle between strength and cardiovascular conditioning sets, with a focus on core stabilization and compound movements. All you need is 30 minutes!

Quick Conditioning Circuit Details

Goal: full-body workout

Format: muscular strength, cardiovascular conditioning and core stabilization

Total Time: 30 minutes

Equipment: dumbbells and Gliding discs

Music: high-energy tunes, 125–130 beats per minute

Additional details:

  • Set up three workout stations in the back of the room, side by side, in a linear format. Participants will come forward to do the moves, and when they reach the front, they’ll travel back to the starting position. This will continue until you call time. Then they’ll move to the next station.
  • Plan to rotate through the stations twice.
  • Cue people to spend the same amount of time at each station (45 seconds) in every block, but increase recovery time between stations as blocks progress (10 seconds, then 20, then 30).
  • Let the group rest for 1–2 minutes between blocks. Use this time to introduce the next exercise series.
  • Offer progressions and regressions to accommodate participants of different fitness levels.
  • Use a timer to track circuits.

Warmup (5 minutes)

Lead participants through a series of exercises done in a line. Have people start the first move as they go from the back of the room to the front, then cue a new move as they return. All options begin standing with feet hip-width apart. Repeat until participants have completed all exercises.

  • Knee pull: Walk forward while hugging knee to chest (alternate).
  • Dynamic hamstring stretch: Step left leg forward and lift straightened right leg to chest level. Repeat, leading with R leg.
  • Step and squat: Step R foot forward, then L foot. Lower into squat, return to starting position and repeat, leading with L leg.
  • Walking lunge: Step R leg forward and lower into lunge, bending both knees about 90 degrees. Step forward with rear foot to return to starting position. Repeat, L.
  • Bear crawl: Bring hands to floor and flex about 90 degrees at knees and hips. Crawl forward starting with R hand and L foot, keeping hips low. Repeat, leading with L hand and R foot.

Work Phase (20 minutes)

Weave the following blocks into one seamless, efficient exercise experience.

Block One

45 seconds;
10 seconds to transition

Station #1

Equipment: dumbbells

Walking lunge:

  • Begin standing, feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbell in each hand.
  • Step R leg forward into lunge, bending both knees about 90 degrees.
  • Step forward with rear foot to return to starting position; repeat, L.
  • Maintain upright posture.

Progression: Increase resistance.

Regression: Do movement without weights.

Station #2

Equipment: Gliding discs

Disc push:

  • Begin in quadruped position, hands on discs.
  • Lift knees off floor about 1 inch and slide discs along floor while stepping forward, alternating lead leg.
  • Keep hips as low as possible.

Progression: Increase speed of movement.

Regression: Decrease range of motion.

Station #3

Equipment: none

Forward bound:

  • Begin in half-squat position, feet hip-width apart.
  • Extend at hips and knees and jump forward, landing in half-squat position.
  • Maintain extended spine during squat.

Progression: Begin and end movement in deeper squat position.

Regression: Reduce ROM.

See also: Sample Class: Circuit Progressions

Block Two

45 seconds;
15 seconds to transition

Station #1

Equipment: dumbbells

Walking lunge with biceps curl:

  • Do walking lunges as des-cribed previously, adding biceps curls when returning to starting position.
  • Stay in control of movement when lowering dumbbells to avoid using momentum.

Progression: Do biceps curl when lowering into lunge position.

Regression: Decrease resistance.

Station #2

Equipment: Gliding discs

Disc pull:

  • Begin in plank position, forefeet on discs.
  • “Walk” hands forward while sliding discs along floor.
  • Keep hips level throughout exercise.

Progression: Increase speed of movement.

Regression: Do exercise with knees on discs.

Station #3

Equipment: none

Forward bound/squat thrust:

  • Bound forward and bring hands to floor while jumping to plank position.
  • Jump feet back in and stand. Repeat.
  • Brace core when jumping to plank.

Progression: Increase ROM when bounding forward.

Regression: Step into squat thrust.

Block Three

45 seconds;
20 seconds to transition

Station #1

Equipment: dumbbells

Walking thruster:

  • Begin standing, feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbell in each hand in front rack position at shoulders.
  • Take two steps forward and return to starting position.
  • Lower into squat, flexing at knees and hips.
  • Return to standing position while pressing weights overhead.
  • Lower weights to front rack position.
  • Track knees in same direction as toes when squatting.

Progression: Increase resistance.

Regression: Do shoulder press without squatting.

Station #2

Equipment: Gliding discs

Inchworm/knee tuck:

  • Begin standing, forefeet on discs.
  • Hinge from hips and place hands on floor.
  • Walk hands forward until body is in plank position.
  • Slide discs on floor and bring knees in toward chest.
  • Shift weight to heels and stand.
  • Maintain extended spine when bringing hands to floor.

Progression: Do V-up (keep knees straight) instead of knee tuck.

Regression: Bend knees when bringing hands to floor.

Station #3

Equipment: none

Forward bound/burpee:

  • Bound/leap forward.
  • Bring hands to floor and jump back into tall plank position.
  • Lower body to floor.
  • Press up to plank and jump feet in.
  • Press up to plank and jump feet in; leap upward as you return to standing position..
  • Avoid hyperextending spine in plank position.

Progression: Release hands from floor before pressing up to plank position.

Regression: Place knees on floor when lowering to floor from plank position.

Cooldown and Stretch (5 minutes)

Have participants walk in a circle around the periphery of the room to cool down. Then lead them through a series of static stretches to target all muscles used in the workout.

See also: Sample Class: Cardio-Strength Circuit

Melissa Weigelt, MS

Melissa Weigelt is an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, NASM-certified personal trainer and vinyasa yoga instructor with 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. As an ACE- and AFAA-approved provider of continuing education for fitness instructors and a member of the BOSU® master trainer and development team, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and ideas with others.

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