Thursday, October 14, 2010

Throw it Down Thursday - Circuit Style

Welcome to the first Throw it Down Thursday - Exercise Edition.  I'm excited to be writing about weight loss stuff, again, and feeling more motivated to start trying some new things and sharing it with you all.

This week, I've decided to talk about Cardio Circuits. When I had to quit boot camp my second time through, I was really upset.  Boot camp was the one thing that kept my butt in line - literally and figuratively - in regards to my exercise.  No matter what we did while I was there, I knew that I was going to walk away getting an AMAZING work-out.  I know the boot camp made a difference in my life because I'm now able to do push-ups, I can jump over things, I can sprint, and that's only the physical stuff.  My body is stronger, I am stronger.  While in boot camp, I always dreaded circuits...they were so hard.  Going from exercise to exercise over and over...I would be exhausted - but every week, I noticed I could do more and more.  It's crazy but after I left boot camp - the circuits were what I missed the most.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover that there were a couple of ladies at the school I'm interning in that were doing Cardio Circuits twice a week.  No, they're not as intense as the circuits I did at boot camp - but I still walk away knowing I got a great work-out.  Even though I haven't been able to go twice a week most weeks, I love going - and have decided to start doing my own circuits at home.

What are cardio circuits, you ask? Great question!  Let me explain.  Cardio Circuits are just a set of cardio type exercises.  They could be jumping jacks, high knee lifts, push-ups, sprints, sit-ups, jumping rope, etc.  You pick 5 or 6 exercises.  You perform each exercise for an allotted amount of time, then switch to the next exercise.  Once you've completed the circuit, you repeat. 

Want some ideas to get started?  Okie dokie, then.  Here's a cardio circuit rotation you can do at home, out in the yard - anywhere really.  When I do circuits, I do each exercise for a minute and then rotate around the entire circuit three times.  If you're new to exercise, you can opt to start out with doing 30 seconds at each circuit and try and rotate twice.  The key is not to do what your body can handle, but to get to a place where you  feel like you can't do anymore - and then push yourself a little harder.  I've found that I can do 1 min on each circuit pretty easy - but when rotating three times - the last rotation I really have to push myself to get through it.  Once I've gotten to a place where I can comfortably do the third rotation - I will push my time up to 1 1/2 minutes.  So, here's an example.  These are not the only exercises you can do (especially if you plan on doing everything inside) - there are little hundreds of variations.

Exercise 1:  Jumping Jacks - JJ are a great way to get your heart rate up with not much impact.

Exercise 2:  Sprints - Measure out a space (I opt for about 25 yards) and just sprint up and back.  Indoor alternative:  Run in place, and bring your legs back far enough to kick your butt with your feet.

Exercise 3:  High Knee Lifts - You can do this in place, or walk up the sprint track doing it.  Be sure to lift your knee to waist height.  If you want to add some pressure, try jogging while doing it.

Exercise 4:  Straight Arms - Hold your arms out straight out to the side.  You can rotate them, dance, pump - the key is to not let them fall to your must hold them straight out for the entire minute.

Exercise 5:  Jump Rope - Self explanatory, you just jump rope the entire time.  Indoor Alternative:  jog in place and act like you have a mini-punch bag in front of you.  Punch out, quickly, rotating each arm.

Exercise 6:  Side lunges - Stand in place, lunge out to the left, lunge out to the right.  Twist your body slightly to get the ability to really get your leg out for a deep lunge.


Cool Down - after finishing your rotations, be sure that you spend some time cooling down. Take a slow walk until your heart rate comes down, stretch out your arms and legs....don't just stop.  That will cause your body to tense up - leading to unnecessary muscle pain.

Remember, you can change any or all of the exercises.  Try using alternatives such as push-ups, jumping on a mini trampoline, side kicks, front kicks, find a ball and do ab crunches keeping the ball between your knees... the possibilities are endless.

The best part about Cardio Circuits is the fact that you get a great work-out, but don't spend a lot of time doing it.  If you have six exercises, stay at each exercise for a minute, and rotate three times, then it will take a little over 18 minutes to do the entire work-out.  If a minute is too long, and you can only do thirty seconds - then you're working out for 9 minutes...but still getting a good work-out.  Try doing them a few times a week, and changing the exercises up.  You work different parts of your body, burn lots of calories...and you can control the intensity.

If you have any questions, you know I'm always here to help any way that I can.

"Showing commitment isn't about how much time I dedicate, it's finding ways to pushing myself to the limit regardless of how little time I really have to spare."
Till next time.  ;)

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