4 Innovative Circuit Workouts to Show Your Heart Some Love

Get your heart pumping with a new workout this month.

You know exercise is good for your heart. But which workout is going to pay off with the most heart-healthy benefits? One that keeps your body and heart guessing.

Some days you might go for a long run gets your heart beating at around 50 to 65 percent of its maximum heart rate (220 minus your age), while other days you might do a HIIT workout that has you at around 80 percent of your max heart rate. Simply put, mix it up!

If you’re a fitness enthusiast who easily gets caught in the steady-state cardio rut, it’s time to shake up your routine. Try adding these cardio-focused body-weight circuits to your program and embrace the feeling of your heart really pumping. Each circuit contains a lower-body body-weight strength move, a plyometric exercise that complements the strength exercise, a simple cardio drill and a core exercise.

Before you begin, be sure to warm up. Take a brisk walk or light jog for five to 10 minutes, or jump rope for five minutes. Jumping rope is a wonderful way to ensure your heart rate is reaching a challenging level. A minute of jumping rope where you clear the rope 80 times a minute is like running close to an eight-minute mile.

If you want to take the program up a notch, do all of these in a row, jumping rope for three to five minutes after you’ve completed each circuit. Another option is to use these circuits to spice up your steady-state cardio. If you’re an elliptical lover or participate in a form of cardio that does not truly leave you feeling challenged, throw these circuits in every eight to 10 minutes to ensure you’re getting the most out of your sweat time.

Whip your booty into shape.

1. Booty-Kicking Circuit

  • 15 squats
  • 30 seconds of jump squats
  • 20 seconds of butt kicks
  • 20 seconds of mountain climbers
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Do five rounds total

Focus on just one side at a time.

2. Single-Side Circuit

  • 15 reverse lunges: step back on the right leg
  • 20 seconds of lunge jumps: keep the right leg in front; don’t switch legs
  • 20 seconds of high knees
  • 15 reverse lunges: step back on the left leg
  • 20 seconds of lunge jumps: keep the left leg in front; don’t switch legs
  • 20 seconds of high knees
  • 30 seconds of plank up-downs: start in a high plank, lower down to a forearm plank one arm at a time, and then come back up, alternating which arm goes down first
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat five times total

Back and forth and back and forth.

3. Side-to-Side Circuit

  • 15 alternating lateral lunges
  • 30 seconds of plyometric alternating lateral lunges: step out to the right in a side lunge, then sweep the left leg toward the right and land in a left side lunge
  • 30 seconds of lateral shuffle
  • 60 seconds of lateral plank walk to squat thrust: start in a high plank, take two “steps” to the right, hop your feet to your hands, jump up, land back in a squat, and then push back to a plank again. Start over, taking two “steps” back to the left.
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat five times total

Keep it up and finish strong!

4. The Sumo-Jack Circuit

  • 15 sumo squats
  • 20 seconds of sumo squat jump with heel touch: as you jump up, click your heels together
  • 20 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 30 seconds of four plank shoulder taps and two plank jacks: from a plank, touch your right hand to left shoulder, switch and repeat. Hop your feet in and out twice.
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat five times total

More Hearth-Healthy Tips

In addition to a solid cardio program, it’s important to incorporate heart-healthy foods into your everyday life. A few things to remember: Limit unhealthy fats (trans fats) and salt, and fill your plate with high-fiber vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.

Some suggested snacks include:

  • Oatmeal, barley, beans: rich in soluble fiber, which may lower your risk of heart disease
  • Salmon/tuna: contain omega-3 fats, which can help lower blood pressure
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, hazelnuts, pine nuts and peanuts): contain vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fats and low levels of saturated fats
  • Tomatoes: excellent source of vitamins C and A, potassium, fiber and lycopene, which helps in cardiovascular disease prevention
  • Apples: contain antioxidant flavonoid compounds and pectin, which is a soluble fiber known to help lower cholesterol

Taking control of your heart health requires a solid commitment to both exercise and diet. And you’ve taken the first step by reading this. Now go out there and embrace the challenge and take your fitness up a notch. Remember: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!

About the Author

Kira Stokes is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and fitness ambassador for Lycored with more than 18 years of experience. Her clientele ranges from A-list celebrities to professional and everyday athletes. Kira’s focus is on innovative, progressive training, concentrating on transforming the body and mind. She has developed a signature training style, the Stoked Method, along with her popular Stoked Series group training classes, which combine highly effective, results-driven functional and traditional methods of working the body.