At-Home Circuit Training Routine

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I’m not just a co-founder of Nexercise, I am a user too.  Like many of you, I too need the motivation.

With my busy life, sometimes I just flat out don’t have the time or energy to make it to the gym.  When I was younger, I had more time and energy than I appreciated.  My career was easily maintainable, I was single, I could sleep in on weekends, and I didn’t have any kids.  I would spend hours in the gym every week working to get buff and stronger as I tried to increase my max bench press and curl weights.  But as I got older, things slowly started to change.  It became more difficult to properly manage the weight I had intentionally gained.  I had injured myself a couple times trying to lift weights that were too heavy in an attempt to “max out.”  My professional demands were increasing exponentially and I was now married with two kids.  I realized that my life was no longer my own.

No longer could I count on making it to the gym four…three…two…or even one time per week.  It was always, “I’ll get to the gym tomorrow,” or, “my workout schedule got messed up this week, I’ll hit it next week.”  I found myself looking back and realizing that I hadn’t done anything in a month.  Also, my clothes were starting to shrink (wink, wink)!  I realized that my habits and goals had to evolve.  I had to come up with a strength-training plan that didn’t count on me getting to a gym several times a week.  I had to develop something adaptable that I could easily do in the evenings after the kids went to bed.  I used to spend time in the gym trying to look like an ‘80s action star who could bench press 300 lbs.  Now, however, I just wanted to be at a fit and sustainable weight and not let myself look like an athlete who let himself go after 10 years of retirement.  I never wanted to get to the point where people said, “he looks like he used to be in shape,” but I was quickly heading there.  Even my wife noticed.

I had to remove my #1 excuse; “I don’t have time to go to the gym.”  I had to find a workout I could do at home, at any time.  Like a lot of people, I tried P90X and Insanity.  Those workouts are great but I still fell into my same old trap.  The way my mind works, if I missed a day, I felt like my entire week was a waste and would let that single bad day derail the entire week.  So in addition to finding a workout I could do at home, I needed to find one that wasn’t tied to some sort of schedule.  Slowly, I put together my own routine.  As it evolved, my requirements evolved too.  By the time I got the workout where I wanted it to be, it had to fit the following criteria:

  • It had to be a complete upper body workout
  • I had to be able to finish it in 30-45 minutes
  • I had to be able to do it at home
  • It couldn’t require a lot of space or pricey equipment
  • It had to focus on body weight or manageable dumbbells so that I wouldn’t injure myself with too much weight
  • It couldn’t depend on what I had done earlier in the week
  • It had to be something that was at least partly compatible with a hotel gym
  • It had to keep me toned and strong without bulking me up

I experimented with different exercises and before long, had developed my own at-home circuit training routine.  It took some time but I finally got there.  I like it because it is as challenging as I want to make it and gives me the physical results I’m looking for.  I like it so much that I even use it when I do make it to the gym.  So now, I use this routine on my strength training days and then run or jump rope on the other days.  It works for me.

Now before I share this program with you, I have to tell you that I am not a doctor or even a fitness professional.  I don’t have any certifications and cannot professionally recommend any exercises to you.  I am merely telling you what works for me.  Also, regardless of what exercise you’re doing, you should always stop and seek medical attention if you feel pain, faintness, dizziness, nausea, or anything else that doesn’t just feel like your muscles working hard.

So now that I’ve got all of that out of the way, here is what I do and what equipment I use.

My At-Home, Upper Body Circuit Training Routine

The Equipment:

  • Pull-up bar (There are lots of options at any sporting good store)
  • Dip bar (I use The RackTM – Not a product endorsement, it just works for me because it is light and folds away nicely)
  • Dumbbells (The kind that have variable weight from 5-50 lbs)

The Exercises:

  • Stretching / Warm-up
  • Normal width push-ups: Enough so that the last five are difficult but not impossible
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Sit-ups:  Enough so that the last five are difficult but not impossible
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Pull-ups: Enough so that the last two are difficult (If you are a beginner, one pull-up assisted by a chair is a perfectly acceptable start)
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Dips: Enough so that the last two are difficult (Make sure you can support yourself so that you don’t fall)
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Dumbbell Curls: Enough so that the last two are difficult
  • 60 seconds rest
  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: Enough so that the last two are difficult (keep the weights lighter than you initially think they should be so you don’t injure your back – form is most important on this exercise)
  • 3 minutes rest

Repeat the circuit 1 or 2 times depending on your level of fitness.

  • Stretching / Cool Down


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