Circuit workouts like this one (and this one) are quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to get a good sweat on. I've taught a bunch of workouts recently using this style and everyone seems to love it, particularly this leg workout that I taught Monday night. So why not share it with all of you! All you'll need is a set of heavier dumbbells (10-15lbs depending on your fitness level) and a timer. With a quick warm up and cool down, this workout will take you about an hour. Ready to have some fun?!
Dumbbell Quads & Glutes Circuit Workout
Equipment Needed: 10-15lb dumbbells, a timer, water bottle, sweat towel (you'll be dripping!), and an exercise mat if you want one.
What You'll Do: start with #1 and go through each pair three times, each exercise lasting 1 minute (or 30 seconds each side if concentrating on one leg), for a total of 6 minutes per pair. This workout will take about an hour after warm up, water breaks, and a cool down. Here we go!
Pair 1 (x 3):
Squat + Calf Raise - just like it sounds, you'll hold a dumbbell in each hand and squat down as low as you can keeping your chest up and spine aligned. As you come up, do a calf raise at the top (go up on your toes). Squeeze your glutes. Keep the squat + raise pattern going for 1 minute.
Jump Lunges - start in a lunge position on one leg. Propel yourself up into the air and switch legs mid-air to land back down in a lunge on the other side. Keep jumping for 1 minute. Trainer Tip: if the jumps are too high-impact for you, simply step your feet up and back into a lunge alternating legs as you go.
Pair 2 (x 3):
Hinged Abductor Raises - okay bear with me, I didn't have a better name for these. You're going to stand feet wider than hip width (kind of like a high straddle), hinge at the waist, bend your knees slightly, and bring your finger tips to the floor. Keeping your fingers on the floor the whole time, slide them over to one side, transferring your weight onto that leg. Lift your other leg directly up to the side. Put that leg back down and slide your fingers to the other side, transferring your weight to the leg you just placed on the floor. Lift the other leg to the side. Keep alternating that back and forth side lifting for 1 minute. Trainer Tip: the lifts don't have to be big. Keep them small with good form and make sure your feet don't start slowly creeping inward as you do these.
Skaters - think of these like what speed skaters do except instead of gliding on the ice, you're hopping side to side on the floor. Start standing and hop to one side bringing your other leg diagonally behind you. Touch that foot to the floor, and immediately hop to the other side. Keep alternating hops for 1 minute. Trainer Tip: if hopping is too much, just step out to the side instead.
Pair 3 (x 3):
Kneeling Rainbows - kneel in an all 4's position on the floor and extend one leg out to the side, toes lightly touching the ground. From here, raise the leg up and over to the other side making an arch (like a rainbow) in the air with your foot. Keep going back and forth on one leg for 30 seconds, then switch to the other leg for the next 30 seconds. Remember, make those arches high!
Plank Hops - I love these. Get into a plank either up on your hands or on your elbows. From here you're going to tuck your heels up to your butt as you jump side to side. Keep your hands on the floor the entire time, and your gaze should be forward with a neutral spine. Keep jumping for 1 minute. Trainer Tip: if the jumps are too much, simply step your feet one at a time side to side.
Pair 4 (x 3):
Reverse Lunges w/ Weight Chop - start standing with 1 dumbbell in your hands, holding it vertically by your chest. Step back into a lunge (reverse lunge) and "chop" the weight down to the side of whichever leg is in front (so if you stepped back with your left foot, you'll chop the weight to the right). Step back up, bringing the weight back to your chest, and do the same thing on the other side. Keep the motion going for 1 minute.
3-Point Hops - keep that single weight with you, this time holding it horizontally, elbows bent to 90˚ by your ribs and the weight slightly in front of you. Keeping your shoulders facing forward and the weight in that same position the entire time, quickly hop your feet to face the right, then to the middle, then to the left, back to the middle, back to the right, and so on. So really the only part of your body that should be moving is your lower half. Keep hopping for 1 minute.
Pair 5 (x 3):
Crouched Heel + Side Touches - like the runner stance heel touches except in addition to bringing your foot in to meet your heel, you'll also tap it out to the side. So you're crouched down with all the weight on one leg, other leg extended straight behind you, light on the finger tips. Bring the back leg up so your toes meet your stationary heel, then immediately tap your toes out to the side. Bring them back in, and extend them back again. So really all you're doing is tapping your toes back, to your heel, out to the side, back to your heel, and back again. Keep the pattern going for 30 seconds on each leg. You'll feel 'em!
Plank Jacks - just like they sound, you're in a plank position (on your hands or forearms), and your feet jump in and out like jumping jacks. Keep your abs engaged to keep the spine aligned and remember to keep your neck neutral (i.e. don't look down at your feet). Trainer Tip: if these are too high-impact for you, step your feet out-out, in-in, out-out, in-in.
Pair 6 (x 3):
Low-to-Mid Squats - crouch down so your knees are completely bent, butt touching your heels and your feet flat on the floor, holding a single dumbbell in your hands. From here raise your lower half up so your quads are parallel to the floor. Hold yourself there for 2 seconds, then lower back down to start. Keep going for 1 minute.
High Knees - you know these ones. Bring 'em up to waist level! Trainer Tip: lower impact = march in place with high knees.
Pair 7 (x 3):
Push Off Lunges - just like they sound here too - lunge forward (get low!) and push off that foot to return to standing. Alternate legs as you go for 1 minute. Feel free to add the dumbbells for some added resistance.
Tuck Jumps - start standing and jump up as high as you can, tucking your knees into your chest. Try do as many jumps as you can in 1 minute. Trainer Tip: too much? March in place with high knees or jog in place for a lower-impact cardio round.
Pair 8 (x 3):
Closed-Leg Glute Bridges - like a regular glute bridge, except your knees and feet stay together the entire time (i.e. your legs are closed). Add either 1 or both weights on your hips for extra resistance. Trainer Tip: really squeeze your legs together on this one. If you want even more of a challenge, lift your toes off the floor and push with your heels.
Stationary Marches - from standing, alternate lifting your legs up straight with your foot flexed, arms straight out. Try to touch the top of your toes to your hands. (These are similar to the Zombie Marches from my Fitness Friday Halloween Edition.) Alternate legs quickly for 1 minute.
WHEW! There you have it! How do your legs feel now? I hope this workout gives you the energy you need to start (or finish) your day strong and power you through the rest of this week!
Readers: chat with me! Do you work your legs often? What's your favorite leg exercise? In your workouts, do you ever alternate strength and cardio exercises like this? If not, are you going to try it?