We have all had weeks where we’ve gotten sick, had to go on business trips, vacations with the family or just life got in the way of having a spectacular fitness week. I know I would love to make all fifty-two weeks of the year, six days per week gym weeks, but that’s never going to happen in my life. Short gym weeks happen, and it really isn’t the end of the world, just more of a nuisance. To maximize my workouts on the few days, or only day, that I can lift weights during those weeks, I circuit train multiple body parts. Although I love my usual weekly muscle isolation split, workouts like these can be a fun change of pace and help work the total body while cutting short the days in the gym.
The Body Pump Workout
The weights should be about fifty to sixty percent of your one rep max – this workout is to get a pump and get moving from a week that will have few, if any more, gym days. Keep a quick pace with no rest between exercises and about thirty to forty-five seconds between rounds.
Phase #1 - Three Rounds
Walk the floor to pushups – x10
Walking lunges with a twist – x10/leg
Med ball woodchoppers – 8x/each direction
• To properly perform ‘walk the floor to pushup,’ start by standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Next, place your hands on the floor in front of your feet and walk your hands across the floor, away from your feet, until you are in a plank position. Do a pushup, then walk hands across the floor back towards your feet. That is one complete rep.
• When doing the twist to ‘walking lunges with a twist,’ use a med ball! Carry the med ball in front of you with your elbows bent while getting down into the lunge position – the leg bent behind you should have the knee touching the floor or as close to the floor as you can. While in that position, rotate your torso as far to the left and as far to the right as you can manage – try to twist ninety degrees to the left and right or as close as possible.
• I usually grab about a ten-pound med ball to do woodchoppers; the weight does not have to be heavy for this exercise to be effective. Make sure to keep the arms slightly bent and to swing the med ball from high to low. To warm up the glutes, make sure to squat as low as possible on the low portion of the woodchoppers.
Phase #2 - Three Rounds:
Barbell overhead press – x10
Barbell sumo squat to upright row – x10
Barbell overhand bent over row – x10
• Be sure to not add too much weight to the barbell for the overhead press or you’ll run out of gas for the rest of the circuit – remember, this workout isn’t about hitting a PR, but just getting active for the week.
• Sumo squats are some of my favorite leg exercises, adding a high-pull gives it a little something extra for the shoulders. Position your hands on the barbell as if you were doing an upright row, fairly close together. To make your life much easier, when getting towards the finish of the squat, quickly snap up into the standing position to add momentum to get the barbell up for the upright row from the sumo squat. Make sure to keep those elbows high and even when doing the row!
Phase #3 - Three Rounds:
Barbell power cleans – x10
Bodyweight triceps dips – x15
Hyperextensions – x20
• Because the power cleans are paired with two body weight exercises for this circuit, feel free to challenge yourself and add a bit more weight to the barbell – probably around sixty to seventy percent of your one rep max. If you want to add even more of a challenge to this circuit, hold a 10lb or 25lb weight for hyperextensions and lower the reps.
Phase #4 - Three Rounds:
Cable rope underhand squat to row – x10
Cable rope bicep curl – x10
Pushups – x10
• For the last circuit, set the cable as low on the machine as possible. For a cable squat to row, start by holding the rope with an underhand grip, with no bend in the elbow, in a squat position. As you are standing up out of the squat, simultaneously pull the rope into the row position while keeping the underhand grip. You should have completed the row by the time that you are fully standing. Release your arms out of the row at the same time as you start bending back down into the squat position. Your arms should be fully extended back out in front of you in the underhand grip while you are in a low squat stance again. That is one rep!
• To keep my quick pace, I drop the rope and adjust the weights to immediately go into cable rope biceps curls. By the time I get to the pushups, I’m pretty spent! Do as many regular pushups as possible, but when you’re too tired, drop your knees and make them easier to complete all the reps.
• This workout typically takes around an hour to complete. If you have some extra time, do cardio! Steady-state cardio on an elliptical or interval sprints (thirty second sprint, thirty second rest) on a Stair Mill or Stair Master. Another option is to do some extra ab work – try three sets of twenty hanging leg-lifts or three sets of twenty-five med ball sit-ups on a decline bench.
Although this workout is meant to be quick, don’t rush through the whole thing. Make each set count, give a good effort and add weight where you feel you can. Most importantly, have fun with it! If you can make it to the gym for two additional days of the week, try more circuit training for the whole body with exercises that target multiple body parts. Be creative and make the time you do get in the gym count!
Written by: Samantha Meinrod