Creating an all-encompassing workout — one that gets your heart rate up while strengthening every major muscle group — takes some fancy fit work. But it’s something Steve Uria, founder of Switch Playground in New York City (original location: South Africa), does with gusto. If you’ve never been to the playground, imagine recess for adults but with more structure and sculpting goals.
Each class at Switch includes 20 stations, with two exercises per station. You’ll work every body part — big and small — and because you only do each exercise for 30 seconds (two minutes total per station), you’ll break a serious sweat to boot. (The party vibe with a live DJ and neon lights will help you turn up the intensity, too.)
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“Circuit workouts promote a functional training environment to condition the whole body,” Uria explains. “You’re maximizing benefit in minimal time, and creating a cardiovascular experience within a strength training arena.” In other words, you simultaneously pump up the volume on fat burning and muscle building.
Of course, we couldn’t leave Uria’s fun and games at the playground, so we had him design a sequence you could do right at home. All you need is a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell and med ball, and a killer workout playlist (like this one). Crank the volume, and you’re ready to blast through these circuits.
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4 Mini Circuit Workouts, 1 Killer Total-Body Routine
Get ready for one mini circuit for every section of the body, plus a total-body scorcher. Each circuit features just three moves — but packs plenty of targeted body benefits. Do 12 to 15 reps of each move and two to three rounds of each circuit before moving on to the next. If you still have some drive by that final exercise, push it into high gear and repeat everything from the top, Uria says. Sweaty, sculpted and oh-so-energized… here you come!
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Lower Body Circuit Workout
Fire up some of the biggest muscles in the body: your quads, hamstrings, and even more so, your glutes. Hello, booty burn.
1. Side Step Squat
How to: With a dumbbell in each hand and your arms down by your sides, stand with feet hip-width apart (a). Step out to the left side, push your hips back and drop your butt down to sit into a squat (b). Stand up straight, then step your feet back to the starting position (c). Next, step out to the right side and sit into a squat (d). Stand up, return to the starting position, and continue alternating.
2. Back Lunge with Knee Raise
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart (a). Step your left foot back into a low lunge, both knees bent at 90 degrees and your left knee hovering just off the floor. At the same time, bring your arms straight up at a 45-degree angle (b). Step forward, bringing your left knee up toward your chest, as you bring your arms back down to your sides (c). Repeat, then switch sides.
3. Glute Cross Overs
How to: Start on all fours with your shoulders over wrists and your knees in line with hips (a). Bring your right knee in toward your chest, then shoot it straight out behind you, raising it straight up toward the ceiling (b). Then move your right leg over your left leg, and tap the floor lightly with your right foot, just outside of your left foot (c). Shoot it back up to the ceiling and repeat, then switch sides.
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Upper Body Circuit Workout
You’ll work your entire upper body — shoulders, chest, back, triceps and biceps — with this muscle-burning trifecta. Remember to keep your shoulders rolled down and away from your ears for each exercise.
1. Lateral Dumbbell Raise into Curl Press
How to: Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms down in front of you (a). Raise your arms straight out to the sides to shoulder height, palms facing down (b). Bring your arms back down to your sides and then, circle your hands inward and upward for a bicep curl (c). When the dumbbells reach shoulder height, swiftly switch your palms to face front. Then push your hands straight up for an overhead press (d). Bring your arms back down, flipping your palms to face you at chest height and return to the starting position (e). Repeat.
2. Push-Up Rotation
How to: Start in a high plank position with your hands holding dumbbells, shoulders over wrists and your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles (a). Perform a push-up (b). Then, pull the weight in your left hand straight up to your chest, as you pivot on your feet. Straighten your arm to a T as you hit your side plank (c). Return back to the high plank and repeat on the other side (d). Continue alternating, with a push-up between each rotation.
3. Bent Over Fly to Row to Tricep Kickback
How to: Start with your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in the knees. Hinge forward at the hips about 45 degrees. Maintain a flat back (a). Holding two dumbbells down by your sides, palms facing each other, lift your arms out to the sides (slight bend in the elbows) and squeeze your shoulder blades together to complete a fly (b). Bring your arms back down to your sides, then pull the weight toward your chest and bend your elbows. Keeping your elbows elevated, straighten your arms behind you to complete the tricep kickback. You should raise the weights above your hips (c). Return to the start and repeat.
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Core Circuit Workout
Strengthen every section of your abs with these exercises. You’ll hit the obliques (side stabilizing muscles), rectus abdominis (the coveted six-pack group) and your transverse abdominis (the deep muscles that wrap around your middle).
1. Plank Hip Dips
How to: Start in a forearm plank position, shoulders over elbows, pelvis in a neutral position and hips in line with shoulders and knees (a). Without moving your upper body or your feet, drop your hips to the left (b). Then, moving back through the center, drop them to the right (c). Continue alternating.
2. Cross Over Jacknives
How to: Lie on your back with your right knee bent at a tabletop position, and your left ankle resting on your right knee (a). With your hands behind your head, lift your chest up and shoulders off the ground as you bring your right knee in toward you (b). Lower your shoulders back to the ground and your right knee back over your hip, then repeat (c). Switch sides.
3. Hip Thrusters
How to: Lie on your back with your feet planted on the floor. Your heels should be close enough to your butt that you can touch them with your hands (a). Plant your hands on the ground by your sides, and squeeze your glutes and abs to lift your hips up (b). Lower your hips back to the floor and repeat.
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Total-Body Circuit Workout
This is where you’ll feel the burn all over. Swap the kettlebell and med ball for a dumbbell if you need to, and remember to keep you core engaged through each movement.
1. Burpee Over Unders
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on the ground in front of you (a). Jump your feet back to a plank, then drop to the ground (b). Perform a superman by lifting your arms and legs off the ground. Squeeze your glutes and engage your back, keeping only your waist on the ground (c). Lower back down, then quickly jump your feet back up to meet your hands (d). Explode off the ground and perform a tuck jump, bringing your knees toward your chest (e). Repeat.
How to: Stand holding a med ball or dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest, feet hip-width apart (a). Push the weight down toward the floor on your left side as your pivot both feet to the left and bend your knees (b). Then push the weight across your body and up and over to the right side. Extend your arms on a diagonal and pivot on your left foot, pointing your toe (c). Chop across your body to the left again and repeat. Then switch sides.
3. Clean Jerk Press Back Lunge
How to: Start standing with feet hip-width apart and a kettlebell in your right hand (a). Lower the kettlebell down to the ground as you push your hips back and lower into a squat (b). As you stand back up, pull the kettlebell in front of your body and toward your right shoulder, as you let it slide over your hand to your wrist and push it straight overhead (c). Step your right foot back into a low lunge, knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep the kettlebell overhead (d). Step forward and repeat (e). Then switch sides.