Quick Circuit Workout – Exercises When You’re Short on Time


When you’re short on time but big on results, try a circuit workout! There are times when getting in a great workout or taking that awesome aerobics class just isn’t going to happen. Let’s face it, we all have so much going on that sometimes getting in your workout just isn’t working out. If you’ve ever had one of those days or weeks, if you’re on vacation, or you’re just not motivated to go to your local gym, try my 35 minute combo circuit workout!

Key Workout Notes:

  • This workout can be done at home, at the gym or even in the park. Minimum weights are required (5 lbs to 8 lbs, and if you’re new to working out then 3 lbs will also be fine). If you have resistance bands (green and red are perfect) this will work also as they are light weight and easy to use.
  • If you don’t have a jump rope, or step bench, it’s okay to mimic the movements for the appropriate amount of minutes, as long as you can get your heart rate up.
  • When squatting, make sure that your knees do not go over your toes and to sink back on your heels.
  • Pushups can be done on the floor, wall, countertop or wherever you choose to do them. It’s your workout!
  • Slow, strong and steady when lunging in ANY direction.
  • Always engage your core to support and protect your abs and back.
  • If any exercise causes discomfort, please discontinue that movement immediately!
  • Each exercise is only 60 seconds in duration so remember proper form and safety is more important than speed. As you progress you will be able to execute more repetitions but start slowly, pace yourself and have fun!

About The Exercises
Whether you’re new to exercise or a seasoned pro, here’s a little breakdown of the muscles that you will be using in your cardio combo workout:

Warm Up (4 minutes). Always take time to warm up your body as warm muscles respond to exercises better that cold ones. This can be anything such as marching, jogging, running in place, using a 4-6″ step bench or your stairs.

quick-circuit-workout-rowsSquats (wide or plie), lunges (whether forward, stationary, side or reverse) (1 minute). These are great lower body exercises targeting your thighs, hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves and depending on your angle (plie and side lunges), they will also target your inner thighs and increase your heart rate. Remember to always engage your core to protect your back, sink back on your heels, pushing your hips back (as if you’re sitting in a chair).

Cardio (2 minutes). Jumping jacks, jump roping, step ups (8-10+), marching or jogging in place are all part of your cardio phase to get your heart rate up. As you become stronger, your moves and speed will increase so pace yourself, and breathe!

Push ups (1 minute) utilize your chest, shoulders (anterior, front) and triceps, so stay strong and in form and you’ll get awesome results!

Bent-over Rows (1 minute) will work your back, shoulders (posterior, back) and biceps to help diminish and tone your entire back. Remember to keep your core engaged so that you don’t strain your lower back!

Plank alternating rows (1 minute). Trust me, 1 minute is more than enough initially! This movement will target your core and entire upper body. This exercise can be done full body or on your knees (if you’re new to this wonderful movement), and start with no weights just to get your form correctly, engage your core and breathe slowly through your movement. As you become stronger and more confident in the movement, you can also add a push-up to your movements (i.e. push-up, alternating row, push-up, etc)!

Tricep overhead extensions and dips (1 minute). This will isolate your triceps (back of your arms) to help you get those toned and sexy jiggle-free arms!

Burpees (1 minute). Ah, burpees.. Gotta love them! One of the most loved and disliked exercises there is, but once you get the movements and your form down, they are priceless! Burpees target your entire body, both upper and lower muscles as well as getting your heart rate up. Pace yourself since form and safety is more important than speed and you will succeed in this exercise!

Reverse lunges with bicep curls (1 minute) will target your lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves) and your biceps. Always maintain strict balance and form with this exercise and remember to keep your knees behind your toes.


  • Bicycles (2 minutes). Bicycles will hit your upper, lower, external and internal obliques (sides of the waist). Form and safety is very important so make sure that your lower back is protected. Keep your abs engaged, elbows back and breathe with your lift.
  • Ab crunches (2 minutes)
  • Cool down and stretch (4 minutes)

35-Minute Cardio Combo Program:

This program is a total body workout, but it can be “tailor made” to your personal needs. You will be doing the exercises in the order and time that they are listed below, but please be aware of your limitations and decrease the weight significantly in order to complete the exercise without stopping and with good form.

  • 4 minutes of cardio (warm-up)
  • 2 minutes of alternating squats with high knee lifts
  • 1 minute of lateral shoulder raises
  • 1 minute of alternating reverse lunges with bicep curls
  • 1 minute of tricep overhead extensions
  • 2 minutes of jumping jacks
  • 1 minute of wide stance squats
  • 1 minute of push-ups
  • 2 minutes of jump rope
  • 1 minute of bent-over rows
  • 1 minute of plie squats
  • 1 minute of step up (10+)
  • 2 minutes of skater-cross lunges
  • 1 minute of plank alternating rows
  • 1 minute of dips
  • 1 minute of alternating forward lunges
  • 2 minutes of march or run-in-place
  • 1 minute of alternating side lunges
  • 1 minute of dips
  • 2 minutes of bicycles
  • 2 minutes of AB crunches
  • 4 minutes of cool-down and stretch

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About Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor

I’ve been in the fitness, health and nutrition field for over 18 years and have been certified for 18 years. I live in the beautiful city of Ocean Beach, California. My goal is to assist and reach people who are ready to make a positive change in their lives by providing various types of fitness programs. See my profile page for more information!

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