Body weight circuits are strength exercises that work your upper body, lower body and core. They also incorporate cardiovascular movements to speed up your heart rate. To perform a circuit, you combine multiple exercises executed one after another with no rest between movements. Your body weight acts as the only source of resistance for this kind of workout -- no equipment needed.
Upper Body Exercises
Inchworms target the arms and chest while simultaneously engaging your core. From a standing position, tighten your abs and hinge forward at the hips reaching your hands toward the floor. Walk your hands forward on the floor until your body reaches a full plank position. Reverse the movement by walking your hands back toward your feet and return to standing. Triceps dips are another upper body exercise. Sit on the floor with knees bent at 90 degrees and heels pressed into the floor. With bent elbows, place your hands on the floor behind you slightly wider than hip distance with your fingers pointed toward your glutes. Straighten your arms without locking your elbows, then return to the starting position with elbows bent at 90 degrees.
Lower Body Exercises
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Squats target your glutes and quads while activating your core. Stand with feet slightly turned out and hip-width apart. While emphasizing weight in your heels and a tight core, hinge your hips back and bend carefully at your knees. Return to standing by pushing through your heels and squeezing your gluteus muscles. Alternating forward lunges work your glutes and hamstrings. From a standing position, step one foot forward while dropping the hips toward the floor and bending both knees to 90 degrees. Push off the front foot and return to standing before completing the movement on the alternate side.
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Side planks train your obliques and transverse abdominals. Lie on your side with with all joints stacked. Tighten your core and lift your hips off the floor while supporting your body weight on your forearm and feet. Drop your hips to the floor to complete the movement and repeat the exercise on the alternate side. Supine reverse crunches target your rectus abdominus. Lie face-up on the floor with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees and your arms directly out to your sides. Squeeze your lower abdominals to lift your hips off the floor while maintaining the angle in your knees.
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The exercise called mountain climbers elevates the heart rate. With both hands and knees on the floor, step one foot forward using your core to pull your knee toward your chest and step one foot back. With abdominals contracted to protect your spine, quickly jump to switch foot positions. Continue to jump and alternate feet for the duration of the movement. Jumping jacks also increase heart rate. From a parallel standing foot position, jump, expanding your feet and arms out laterally from the body, then jump, pulling them back to the starting position.
Combinations and Considerations
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Create a variety of circuits by combining these exercises in different patterns. One sample pattern is upper body, lower body, core and cardio. A second pattern may be cardio, upper body, cardio, lower body, cardio and core. Before starting your circuit workout, sufficiently warm up for five to 10 minutes to prepare the body for exercise. Complete your circuit with a five-minute cool down to return the body to pre-exercise conditions. If you have any illnesses or injuries exclude movements that aggravate your condition.
Amanda McVey has been teaching fitness and personal training since 2008 in the San Francisco, New York City and Seattle markets. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer, AFAA certified group fitness instructor and UGI master trainer. McVey has many credits to her education including indoor cycling, pre- and postnatal, TRX, rip training, and trigger point therapy.