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Keep In Shape With This Kit-Free Bodyweight Circuit Workout

A guy completing a bodyweight circuit workout.

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You’ll be surprised by just how many health and fitness benefits you can bag from this bodyweight circuit. Fat loss to aerobic condition to muscle endurance and much more. But one of the main benefits of this workout has nothing to do with weight loss and improving fitness. The chief strength of this bodyweight circuit is that it can be completed almost anywhere. Because it requires no equipment other than a countdown timer, you’ll be able to keep in shape at home, the office, or, for those that are super-committed, on your holidays.

Why does this benefit outweigh the other though?

Let’s be honest, we all struggle to keep up our routine. Busy schedules and an abundance of commitments can get in the way of our workouts. Thankfully, missing the odd session is not the end of the world. But it is when it starts to become a habit. The health and fitness benefits of exercise are only awarded to those who remain consistent.

That’s where this bodyweight circuit workout comes in. By making exercise more accessible, you’ll be less likely to let your routine slip. On busy days, when the thought of trying to get to the gym makes you sweat, you’ll still be able to squeeze in this bodyweight circuit. And don’t worry if you can’t accommodate a full workout. Because the exercises are organised into 10-minute loops, you can tailor the circuit to suit any time constraint.

Now that we’ve considered how a bodyweight circuit workout can break down barriers to exercise, let’s look at those health and fitness benefits.

Bodyweight circuit workout benefits

In addition to supporting you in maintaining exercise consistency, kit-free bodyweight circuits can promote a wide range of health and fitness benefits. First on the long list is physical functionality. Exercise such as press-ups, pull-ups, and burpees improve our ability to support our bodyweight through complex movements.

This is sometimes referred to as ‘real-world’ fitness – the capacity to perform everyday tasks and activities with relative ease. Real-world fitness becomes more important as we get older. Studies have shown that maintaining our physicality as we age is one of the most effective methods for slowing senescence.

Body weight circuits improve muscle endurance

Resistances remain comparatively low when performing bodyweight exercises. This enables us to sustain output for longer durations which means we can get more done throughout a workout. Also referred to as high-volume training, this is beneficial for two reasons.

First, high-volume training is the most effective method for increasing muscular endurance. That’s the muscle's ability to 'contract repeatedly against a submaximal load in a given time period, or the ability to sustain a given submaximal load for an extended period of time,' (NSCA's Tactical Strength and Conditioning).

Enhanced aerobic fitness

The second benefit of high-volume training is that it engages the aerobic energy system. A common misunderstanding is the only way to train cardio is to spend hours on a treadmill. While this method certainly will improve cardio conditioning, there are other less time-intensity ways to elicit the same training outcome.

For example, performing bodyweight exercises in a circuit will sufficiently elevate your heart rate. If done frequently enough, the strength of your heart and the efficiency of your vascular system will progressively improve.

Burn fat and tone up

Another positive of high-volume resistance training is the improvement in body composition. Completing hundreds of reps across a workout with little rest helps to burn fat and build lean muscle.

This is arguably the best possible combination for sculpting a chiselled physique. So, if aesthetic appeal is on your list of desirable training outcomes, start including this bodyweight circuit workout in your routine.

Related: Try this 5 Day Workout Routine >

Bodyweight circuit workout

The first priority is to warm up in preparedness for the demands of the bodyweight circuit workout. As we are reminded in the NSCA’s Guide To Fitness Assessments, warming up improves training performance while reducing injury risk. Another, less-often-mentioned reason for warming up is that it helps boost training motivation. On days when you’re feeling a little icy about exercising, a good warm-up is a sure way to kindle your enthusiasm.

You’ll notice that the stations are structured in an upper-body/lower-body sequence. This is a time-honoured strategy for facilitating training output. While one muscle group (or area of the body) is working the opposite is resting. Thus (in theory) you should be able to sustain constant output for the duration of the workout.

To offer a greater degree of variation and appeal to a wider audience, I have created three separate circuits. The exercise order remains the same, but the training methodology differs.

Body weight circuit #1: Classic

Stations are positioned in a loop. For the duration of either 30, 45 or 60 seconds per station, you will be circumnavigating the loop of exercises. Working at a pace comfortable for you, the objective is to complete one full circuit before resting.

Bodyweight circuit workout training plan #1.

Bodyweight circuit #2: Repetition Ladder

Our second bodyweight circuit workout consists of climbing a repetition ladder. With this training method, the objective is to reach the highest rung of the ladder in the allotted duration. You’ll have 30 minutes of climbing time. For the first round, you will be performing just one rep at each station. Then two reps for the second round and so until there are no more minutes remaining on the clock.

Body weight circuit workout training plan #2.

Body weight circuit #3: CrossFit

The final bodyweight circuit workout is comprised of a series of short-duration AMRAPs. After selecting the level of difficulty, the challenge is to amass as many reps as possible at each station. AMRAPs are followed by a brief rest period (50% of the time selected). It’s good practice during the rest to make a note of your rep score. That way, you’ll have a benchmark to compete against in the next round.

CrossFti bodyweight circuit workout training plan #3.

Bodyweight circuit workout hints and tips

Many of the exercises can be adapted to suit your current level of fitness ability. Lots of trainers struggle with press-ups and pull-ups. But both exercises can be easily modified without sacrificing their respective effectiveness. For example, performing press-ups on your knees, as opposed to your legs positioned out straight, reduces the resistance while still engaging the same muscle groups. A similar tactic can be applied to pull-ups. Inverting the body by hanging underneath a waist-height bar, your feet planted on the floor offsets about half your body weight.

Start the day the right way with this Morning Routine >

In the introduction, I mentioned the option of tailoring the circuits to fit time constraints. I’ll briefly explore a couple of ways that you can do this. The first circuit consists of a 10-minute loop. If you have half an hour to train, aim for three laps. But let’s say that you’ve only got, say, 15 or 25 minutes in which to shoehorn some exercise. To make a round circuit fit square timings, you could complete one or two full laps and then reduce the station duration from one minute to 30 seconds. This would reduce the loop length to 5 minutes thus enabling you to maximise the full time.

The second (and, to a lesser degree, the third) circuit is even more accommodating. Though 30 minutes has been stipulated, you can alter this time to align with however long you have available to train (or just use this 7 minute workout). Remember, the objective of bodyweight circuit workout #2 is to climb as high up the repetition ladder as possible. So, even if you’ve only got as few as five minutes on the clock, you can attempt an ascent.


Enjoyed these circuits?

Get your hands on 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.

Bodyweight circuit workout concludes with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Workouts.


About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or

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