Since you are an athlete and you’ve been given a cardio program to perform over the summer, I’m assuming that you’re currently off-season from your sport. Therefore, an interval-style circuit training program could be an excellent addition to your cardio training to help keep you fit while you’re waiting to get into your in-season training again.
Circuit training is a form of muscle conditioning in which the participant performs a series of exercises with little or active rest between exercise stations. An allotted amount of time (such as 60 seconds) or a desired number of repetitions is given to complete the exercises at each station.
The following workout example is a circuit a program that offers upper body exercises alternated with lower body exercises. This arrangement allows you to rest the upper body muscles while performing lower body movements and vice versa. Alternating upper and lower body exercises in this fashion prevents excessive localized muscle fatigue and allows you to focus your effort more effectively during each exercise station.
Equipment: Dumbbells, exercise mat, and chair or bench
1. Squat holding dumbbells
2. Overhead shoulder press
3. Lunge holding dumbbells
5. Glute bridge
6. 2-arm bent-over back row
7. Bicycle abdominal crunch
8. Seated bench/chair triceps dip
Start out by performing one round of 10–15 repetitions of this circuit. After a week or two, progress to 2 or 3 rounds. You can even consider adding a cardio element (such as jumping rope for 60 seconds) to this circuit in between each of the muscle-conditioning exercises.
Don’t forget to incorporate both a warm-up and cool-down. A few minutes of progressive warm-up exercise that includes dynamic stretching for the major muscle groups prepares you for higher levels of effort. After the circuit, performing a low-intensity cool-down for several minutes will allow the blood to return from the extremities toward the heart and help the participant’s heart rate to return toward resting level. Static stretching exercises are recommended at the conclusion of the cool-down period. For examples and illustrations of warm-up, cool-down, and circuit-training exercises, visit ACE's Exercise Library.