Circuit workout

Grab some basic gym equipment and try this circuit workout.
Published 16 November 2015

Circuit workout


Why do a circuit?
All you need is 20 minutes and some simple gym equipment to get a total-body workout. Investing in a few pieces of versatile equipment also means there’s no excuse not to squeeze in a quick session! Don’t have access to gym equipment? We’ve explained some variations.

What you'll need
Adjustable barbell and dumbbells or weighted objects; an exercise ball or bench; a towel.

The plan
Find space to set up your equipment, do each exercise for 30-60 seconds, then do the circuit twice through. As you get fitter, do as many rounds as you like!


1. Squat jumps

Works: Glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves

How-to: Squat jumps take your regular squats to the next level. Adding a jump into the move gets your heart rate up. How-to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides. Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, then swing your arms up above your head, jumping as high as possible at the same time. Return to the squat position, making sure you land with your knees directly over your toes.

Squat jumps

2. Mountain climbers

Works: Abs, legs, glutes & arms

How-to: As well as working your core muscles, legs and glutes, this exercise also builds up your arm strength and is a good cardio workout. How-to: Start in the plank position, making sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your body is in a straight line. Without changing your body position, bend your right knee, bringing it in as close to your chest as possible, and keeping your left toes on the ground. Return to the plank position and switch leg

Mountain climbers

3. Back raises

Works: Shoulders, triceps & back

How-to: This exercise targets your arms, back and shoulders, and also engages your abdominals, which help you maintain your balance on the exercise ball as you lift the weights. How-to: Lie with your chest and stomach against an exercise ball with your legs wide and toes on the ground. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing upwards, keeping your head and neck in a straight line. Raise your arms and shoulders towards the ceiling. Lower back down.

Variation: You can do this laying on a bench or on the ground with weighted objects in your hands.

Back raises

4. Chest press

Works: Arms, chest, core, glutes and hamstrings

How-to: Chest presses are an effective way to target your chest and core muscles, and doing them while balancing your upper back on an exercise ball means you’ll also be giving your butt and hamstrings a workout. How-to: Lie on an exercise ball positioned under your upper back and shoulders with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at a right angle. Lift your hips so your body is parallel to the ground. Hold the barbell with your hands either side of your chest. Press the barbell towards the ceiling for one count and slowly lower back down.

Variation: You can do this laying on a bench or on the ground with weighted objects in your hands.

Chest press

5. Ski jumps

Works: Quads, hamstrings, abs, glutes & calves

How-to: Work out like an Olympic skier and get the legs to prove it with ski jumps that strengthen your muscles and give you a cardio workout, too. How-to: Place a rolled-up towel or exercise mat on the floor. Stand with your feet and knees together to one side of the towel. Bend your knees, then jump over the towel, swinging your arms backwards as though you’re holding ski poles as you land.

Ski jumps