TOTAL TIME: 23–25 min
45 seconds on, 15 seconds active recovery, repeat 4x, first round warm-up
1. Biceps Sway
If you regularly lift heavy objects, including kids, the best way to decrease the load on your abdominals or pelvic floor is by strengthening your arms.
- Stand on your resistance band with both feet, as wide as necessary to create tension. You want to challenge your biceps, so don’t make it too easy.
- Breathe in.
- Breathe out and perform a biceps curl with palms facing upward.
- Breathe in and lower your arms. Simultaneously, shift your weight to one side, slightly bending your knee.
- Breathe out and do a biceps curl.
- Breathe in and shift your weight to the other side.
- Then breathe out and do a biceps curl. And so on.
2. Triceps Knee Drive
This combo works your triceps, shoulders, abdominals, and glutes. Focus on balance and a neutral posture.
- Stand with your right foot anchoring your resistance band and your left leg lifted behind you (toes pointed). Hold one end of the band in your right hand with your arm fairly straight, palm facing forward. Step off-center on the band to make sure you can get it over your head.
- Drive your left knee toward your chest. Simultaneously, lower your forearm (forearm parallel to ground, and palm facing upward).
- Return your left leg to starting and raise your right forearm, keeping your elbow stable and in line with your head. Because your palm is facing up, your elbow might flare out a little, which is fine, as long as you keep it stable throughout the movement.
- If you have trouble with balance, hold on to a wall or chair for support. Try to keep your left foot off the ground for the entire round.
Complete one round on the right side and then switch to the left side for the next round, and so on. Also, don’t overarch your back or thrust your ribs upward.
3. Cool Curtsy
This is a low-impact full body exercise that will get your heart rate up while also testing your balance (sometimes we overlook the muscular control that is required for good balance). Go as fast as you can without toppling over, which is way harder than it looks. Hold on to a wall if you need more stability.
- Stand with feet hip distance apart. Perform a curtsy squat.
- As you stand up, lift your right leg into a modified grand battement (i.e. lift your leg to the side with toes pointed).
- Here is the tricky part. After the side kick, balance on your left leg and hold your right leg with knee bent. Take a beat to steady yourself if needed, then perform a front kick with foot flexed. Don’t tilt your pelvis.
- Return to starting. Keep going for the 45 seconds.
4. Cardio Side Bend
Level 1: Both legs bent
Level 2: Straighten legs on the lift
This is a basic Pilates exercise, and a surprisingly good way to get your heart rate up during a CIRCUIT. However, don’t sacrifice form for speed. This is why I routinely do Level 1 more quickly than I do Level 2 (you must have good balance). You can alternate rounds between Levels 1 and 2.
- Sit on your right hip with your left leg bent and left foot on the floor. Bend your right leg as well, but rest the foot slightly behind your left foot.
- Position an extended right arm in line with your hip. Rest your left arm on your left knee (palm facing up).
- Lift your left hip toward the ceiling by flexing your torso. For Level 1, keep your right knee on the mat and your left foot on the floor. If performing Level 2, extend both knees and press the inner thighs together. To prevent toppling over, play around with the distance between your torso and your arm and your torso and your legs. It’s okay to move them farther away to give yourself a more stable base of support.
- At the same time, lift your left arm overhead toward the floor.
- Lower the hip and arm and return to starting.
Complete one round on the right side before switching to the left side for the next round, and so on.
Be very careful to keep your torso in neutral by not jutting your chest or pushing your hips forward. As always, make sure your pelvic floor and TvA stay engaged.
If your wrists hurt, try resting on your forearm instead.
5. Brazilian Burpee
Level 1: On knees and squat to stand
Level 2: On feet and lunge to stand
I love the burpee. But I always slow it down to make sure my hips and abdomen aren’t going every which way. I call this the Brazilian Burpee because it combines some movements typical of a burpee, but ends with a brazilian lunge, a type of lunge that really works your inner thighs. Level 2 is an advanced exercise, so please do not progress until you are ready.
- Get into a plank position (on knees or feet).
- Keeping your elbows close to your side, perform two small triceps pushups. You won’t need to go down very far for them to be effective.
- Then, pull one leg forward so that you are in a lunge position.
- Next, stand up from this position by either moving the other leg forward, which puts you in a squat (level 1), or by grounding yourself with your front leg and pulling yourself up (level 2), which is often called a Brazilian lunge. In this level, make sure your weight is in your front leg! Lift your arms overhead as you stand up.
- Return to the low lunge position, then get back into your plank and start over, this time squatting or lunging with the other leg.
Standing up from the low lunge can put a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor if you don’t have enough strength in your inner thighs or if you don’t have your weight in the front leg. If this happens, absolutely regress the exercise by doing Level 1, which means keeping your front leg bent, stepping forward with your back leg to meet your front leg, and then standing up.
1. Side Reach
Stand with feet hip width apart. Side lunge to the right, keeping your left foot straight ahead and your right foot slightly turned out. Lift and stretch your arms to the right. Return. Repeat on the left.
2. Shoulder Roll and Neck Stretch
This circuit worked your upper body, so you’ll want to move your shoulders and neck. The shoulder roll is one of the simplest, but most satisfying stretches. Roll your shoulders towards the front a few times, then reverse. Alternate with a neck stretch. Let your neck fall forward. Roll your head to your right shoulder, then to the center, then to the left.
3. Triceps and Lunge
Lunge one foot forward, back leg straight. Lift one arm over your head, bend your elbow, and touch your fingertips to the back of your neck or upper back. Grab your bent elbow with your other hand and gently pull it. Switch sides.
4. Stair Stepper
Stand with feet together. Hold on to a chair in front of you. Bend forward slightly at the waist. Bend one leg and straighten the other, pushing the straight-legged hip outward. Alternate back and forth.
5. Pelvic Floor Lift and Lower
Perform the hip hinge, rest against a chair, or lie on the floor in child’s pose. Feel free to play around with different positions. Lift your pelvic floor in and up to perform a Kegel, then relax is completely, letting it melt away. Repeat.
Watch the Video
That’s it for CIRCUIT 4!