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How to Make a Circuit Workout...

Stew Smith, CSCS

Often people send me workouts that they created for my opinion. This week an email prompted me to write about many of the varieties of workouts that you can create using a circuit program.

Often people like to use the circuit workout as a form to quickly get through a workout routine yet still workout effectively. Here are some examples of a few of the varieties of the routines you can develop:

The Bodyweight Full-body Routine

I like to alternate an upper body and a lower body exercise into a challenging non-stop routine then follow it up with a moderate form of cardio exercise.

Warm-up / stretch
Pull-ups – max reps
Squats – 20-30 reps
Pushups – max reps 1 minute
Lunges – 10/leg
Sit-ups – max reps 1 minute
Lower back extensions – 1 minute
Repeat above 3-4 times

This workout will require no weights and will work the push and pull muscles of the upper body, the front and back of the torso, as well as the legs.

The Weights / Machine Full-body Workout

Similarly to the above workout, you can use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and weight machines to complete this routine:

Warm-up / Stretch
Pullups or Pulldowns – 10-15 reps
Bench Press – 10-15 reps
Leg Press – 10-15 reps
Rest with crunches – 30-50 reps
Dumbbell Mix – in one movement – squats, bicep curls, military press, tricep extensions 10-15 reps
Woodchopper Squats – 10-15
Bent over rows – 10-15 / arm
One Arm Snatch lifts – 10-15/arm
Push press – 10-15 reps
Repeat as necessary

This workout requires a gym or a variety of weight systems to use to complete, but will work the push / pull muscles of the upper-body, the legs, as well as the kinetic links of full-body movements.

The Classic Push / Pull Workout

This workout is for the quick upper body routine if you like to split your routines into upper body and lower body workouts on alternating days:

Warm-up / Stretch
Pullups – 50% max reps
Bench Press – 50% bodyweight – max reps
Bicep Curls – 10-20 reps
Pushups – 50% max reps
Abs of choice – 50 reps
Bent over rows – 10-20 reps
Dips – 10-20 reps
Pull-downs – 10,10,10 (wide, regular, reverse grip)
Reverse flies – 10-20
Pushups – max reps
Abs of choice – 50 reps
Repeat as many times as needed

These are just a few of the many ways you can mix in a variety of exercises to produce an effective routine that will quickly help you reach the results you are seeking. Once again, the circuit is designed so you do not have to rest during the workout, BUT you actually rest muscle groups while working opposing muscle groups.

Enjoy and please email me with any questions you want answered as I answer all my emails at

  • 0824071306a_max50


    about 6 years ago


  • Hpim0034_max50


    about 6 years ago


    I add in a mile to a two mile run to the work out and WOW

  • Delicate_arch_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Great article! Tis is similiar to the workouts we have at the academy.

  • Bbq_veh_ops_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Hey Stew,
    Your suggestions are always great. I am preparing to train a female LEO who is energetic but she has fallen off the fitness wagon for various reasons.
    She is ready to get back on the wagon and I believe this type of a program will be great for her.
    Keep up the great work and giving great suggestions .

  • Img00015-20101105-1530_max50


    over 6 years ago


    Stew thanks for helping me stay in check

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago


    Circuit training is a great change up from the run of the mill 25 minute run or elyptical machine. I do it twice a week and feel my stamina improved greatly. Best of all is you can do some of these circuits right in your home.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago


    what kind of circuit do you reccomend for people who are getting back into weight lifting to get into better shape?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 6 years ago

    Great article. I enjoy Circuit Workouts.

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