Circuit: 4 moves adapted by fitness level

Circuit: 4 moves adapted by fitness level

Pushup variation:

  • Beginner: Modified pushup- From a kneeling position, extend the hips to make a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Align the hands so that the arms are in a straight line down from the shoulders. Keep the hands closer towards the body to work more triceps, and out further to strengthen the shoulders, along with the chest. As you go down into the pushup, your forearms should stay in a straight line, and go down until the tops of the arms are parallel to the floor, using your knees as the pivot point.
  • Intermediate: Pushup- Start in a plank position on the toes and with the arms in a straight line down from the shoulders. Align the hands so that the arms are in a straight line down from the shoulders. Keep the hands closer towards the body to work more triceps, and out further to strengthen the shoulders more, along with the chest. As you go down into the pushup, your forearms should stay in a straight line, and go down until the tops of the arms are parallel to the floor.
  • Advanced: Side to side pushup- Begin in the same position as a regular pushup, but have the hands spread out wide. Transfer your weight onto mostly one arm by shifting your body to one side. From here, go down into a pushup keeping the body close to the one arm, only using the other arm for as much support as you need. Once you come up, alternate sides.

*As you advance from a modified to a regular pushup, there are 2 key moves to work on to make the transition. The first is the advanced side to side pushup on the knees, as this will strengthen your arms more than doing the regular modified pushups. Once you can do 20 side to side pushups (10/side), then you can move on to trying pushup negatives. So start in the up pushup position, and lower yourself as slowly as possible, keeping the core tight. Then push yourself back up using the knees. Once you can do about 10 negatives, each rep taking 3-5 seconds, you should be more than capable of doing a full pushup with good form.

Squat variation:

  • Beginner: Wall sit- Begin leaning against a wall with your feet a foot or so away from the wall. Slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and hold this position keeping the core tight and upper body against the wall the entire time. Arms can rest at the sides, or you can hold them out in front of you to challenge the shoulders as well. Hold this position for a designated time- work up to 1 minute 30 seconds before moving on to the intermediate variation.
  • Intermediate: Jump squat- Begin with your feet in a squat stance- usually about shoulder width apart. Begin by sitting back with the hips slightly, then bend at the knees until your thighs are about parallel with the floor, keeping the chest up and the spine in a straight line. From here, explosively jump up, and as you land, absorb the shock by sitting back using the same form as for the first one, then jump back up.
  • Advanced: Box pistol squat- Begin standing facing away from a chair, bed, bench, anything you have that is around knee level. Stand on one leg, letting the other leg hover straight in front of you just off the ground. Slowly lower yourself down with the same form as the jump squat, bending at the hips first then the knee. Hold the arms out in front of you to help counterbalance. Sit down fully on whatever you have available, then stand back up, trying to limit any rocking and use of momentum.

Bridge variation:

  • Beginner: Table top- begin sitting on the floor, knees bent, resting your weight on your hands behind you. Turn the hands out so the fingers are facing away from your body, and raise your hips up until your stomach makes a straight line from your knees to shoulders. Allow the head to relax back as you go up.
  • Advanced: Bridge press- Begin laying on the ground with your knees bent, grabbing the ankles with your hands. Bridge your hips up, and place your hands so they are to the side of your head. From here, press through the heels and hands, coming into a full bridge. Once you can hold this position comfortably for about 10 seconds, bend at the elbows, slowly lowering your head to the ground. Once contact is made, extend the elbows again and press back up into the full bridge. Feel free to place a towel under your head if you do not have a carpeted surface or to use as a safety precaution until you are comfortable with the movement.

Prone Cobra:
Begin lying face down, with the arms and legs fully extended. Position your hands in a thumbs up position, and balance yourself on your hips and toes. Flex the lower back to allow the upper body to come up, and as you do so, open up the arms until they can’t go back any further, and squeeze the back muscles. Return to the starting position, and repeat.

For a quick and effective circuit that will challenge your cardiovascular system and muscle endurance, do 10 reps of each exercise without any rest, then take a 30-60s break, and repeat it up to 4 times.

— Chase, Northern Illinois University