This Circuit Workout Is the Perfect Way to Start 2020 Strong

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Circuit workouts can help you hit the cardio and strength training aspects of your fitness routine.
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Whether you bought a new gym membership as part of your New Years' resolution, let your gym membership lapse over the holidays or want a bit of reset on your workout routine, strength training is a great way to start off the new year.

You don't have to start pumping iron as soon as you hit the weight room, though. Those truly new to exercise should start with body-weight exercises to ease you into things (you don't want to be super sore before your second workout). You'll learn to master the proper form, which can help prevent injury and burnout.

Once you are ready to add weight, "start with low weights," says Jennifer Emge, a coach creating personalized exercise plans at Courage to Sweat. "If it's way too easy, increase the weight gradually until you have figured out what weight feels like enough of a challenge that you feel the muscles working hard, but not too much that form is sacrificed."

Read more: Everything You Need to Know to Make the Most of Your Gym Membership

Try This Strength-Training Circuit Workout at the Gym

While it can be all too easy as a newbie in the gym to retreat to the treadmill, getting out of your comfort zone a few times per week with this strength-training workout will help you create a well-rounded routine.

"If you want to go the body-weight route instead of a traditional cardio machine, here's an idea that can be executed just about anywhere," Emge says, giving the following circuit workout as a good starting point.

Warm-Up

Do: 15 reps of each and repeat 3 times.

  • Squats
  • Lunges (15 on left, 15 on right)
  • Push-ups
  • Russian twists

Move 1: Squats

  1. Stand up straight with your feet planted shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend at the knees and bring your butt back and down (as if you're sitting). Your upper body may lean forward slightly with your back flat.
  3. Should you need to balance, you can bend your arms at the elbows with your hands clasped at your chest or extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  4. Keep your weight in your heels, knees over ankles, as you drive back up to standing.

Move 2: Lunges

  1. Stand, then step your right leg forward.
  2. Bend your knees and lower your body until both knees are at 90-degree angles and your right knee is over your ankle. Your left knee should not touch the floor.
  3. Bring your right leg back to the starting position as you stand up.

Move 3: Push-Ups

  1. Start on all fours, then lift into a high plank, supporting yourself on your toes and palms, with your hands shoulder-width apart and shoulders over your wrists.
  2. Bend your elbows, lowering yourself down until you are just above the ground (without touching it). Your elbows will push outward and should be at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Keep your head facing down to avoid straining your neck. Engage your core engaged and maintain a flat back.
  4. Push your body back up by straightening your arms.

Move 4: Russian Twists

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted on the ground. Clasp your hands in front of you.
  2. With your head facing forward and shoulders relaxed, slowly lean back and engage your core, just far enough to pull your feet off the ground.
  3. Twist your torso right and left, moving your clasped hands to each side as you twist. Your legs and head should face forward and stay as still as possible as you rotate your torso and arms.

Read more: The 4 Pillars of Any Good Gym Routine

Circuit 1

Do: 15 reps of each exercise. Repeat the circuit 3 times through.

  • Criss-cross jumping squats
  • Single-leg elevated lunges (15 reps each side)
  • Plank with toe taps (15 reps each side)
  • Side plank hip dips (15 reps each side)

Move 1: Criss-Cross Jumping Squats

  1. Stand with your feet planted shoulder-width apart.
  2. Jump up in the air and cross your feet, landing with your right foot over your left (or left foot over right).
  3. Jump back up into the air, uncrossing your legs. As you land, bend at the knees and bring your butt back and down (as if you're sitting).
  4. Repeat, crossing the opposite foot in front this time.

Move 2: Single-Leg Elevated Lunges

  1. Stand and step your right leg forward with your back leg bent and your foot resting on an exercise bench or box.
  2. Bend your front knee and lower your body until that knee is at a 90-degree angle and positioned over your ankle. Your left knee should not touch the floor and your left foot should remain on the box the entire move.
  3. Stand up and straighten your right leg.
  4. Do all your reps on one side before switching legs.

Move 3: Plank With Toe Taps

  1. Start kneeling, then lift up into a plank, supporting yourself on your toes and palms, your hands shoulder-width apart and shoulders over your wrists.
  2. Take your right leg and move it slightly to the right, tapping your foot out.
  3. Bring it back to the starting plank position.
  4. Repeat with the left leg, alternating sides with each rep.

Move 4: Side Plank Hip Dips

  1. Lie on your left side and bring your body into a side plank by placing your elbow on the ground and elevating your upper body. Keep your body in a straight line.
  2. Slowly lower your hips but don't let them touch the ground.
  3. Lift them slightly over neutral.
  4. Repeat, only moving your hips as you lower and lift them.
  5. Do all reps on one side before switching to the other.

Circuit 2

Do: each exercise as listed, repeating the circuit 3 times.

  • 15 glute bridges
  • 20 plank up/downs
  • 15 hip thrusts
  • Plank hold (aim for at least 15 seconds)

Move 1: Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees so you can plant your feet on the ground, hip-distance apart. Keep your butt on the ground.
  2. Slowly raise up your hips until your upper body forms a straight line to your elevated knees. Your shoulders and head should remain on the ground.
  3. Lower your hips back down to the ground and repeat.

Move 2: Plank Up/Downs

  1. Start kneeling, then lift up into a plank, supporting yourself on your toes and palms, your hands shoulder-width apart and shoulders over your wrists.
  2. Lower to a forearm plank one arm at a time. So, lower from your right hand to your right forearm, then from your left hand to your left forearm.
  3. Once in a forearm plank, lift back up into a high plank one arm at a time.
  4. Repeat, leading with the opposite arm this time.

Move 3: Hip Thrusts

  1. Sit with your back resting against a weight bench, butt on the ground and knees bent with feet planted flat on the floor, roughly hip-width apart.
  2. Push up through the heels and lift your hips into the air, with the top of your shoulders and lower neck resting on the weight bench and your body forming a straight line to your knees.
  3. Achieve full hip extension and keep your knees straight, with knees pointed slightly outward.
  4. Lower your hips to the ground without touching it and repeat.

Move 4: Plank Hold

  1. Start kneeling, then lift up into a plank, supporting yourself on your toes and palms, your hands shoulder-width apart and shoulders over your wrists.
  2. Hold your body in this isometric position for as long as you can with good form, starting with 15 to 30 seconds. Add 5 to 10 seconds whenever it starts to feel easy.

Read more: AMRAP Workouts Are the Next HIIT — Here's Why You Should Try One

Cooldown

"Remember to stretch, drink water and adjust reps as needed depending on your current fitness level and strength," Emge says. "If you feel you cannot maintain form, either decrease the reps, or if you know of an alternative to the exercise, swap it out. If it's too easy, add weights where applicable."

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