I love research that makes exercise more accessible to everyone. A recent article published by the American College of Sports Medicine does just that. Researchers reviewed the literature on high intensity circuit training and designed a circuit of bodyweight exercises that can be performed anywhere in a little less than eight minutes.


The exercises in the circuit are performed continuously at high intensity for 30 seconds each, with 10 seconds of rest and transition between exercises. The 12 exercises in the circuit are:


  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Wall Sit
  3. Pushups
  4. Crunches
  5. Step-ups onto a chair
  6. Squats
  7. Dips
  8. Planks
  9. Running in place
  10. Lunges
  11. Pushups with rotation
  12. Side plank
Breaking Muscle Shop


While this short circuit isn’t going to turn anyone into an elite athlete, it could help break down barriers to exercise for those who won’t make time to get into the gym. It could also be a great option for athletes who travel. Athletes needing even more of a challenge can repeat the circuit multiple times.


High intensity circuits also depend on the athlete working at high intensity. This is tough for people who are deconditioned or new to exercise. I often read mainstream new articles, like this one from the New York Times, that trumpet the fact you can get a complete workout in just a handful of minutes. I do not believe most of these authors truly understand the demands of working at very high intensity for 4-7 minutes. It is neither comfortable nor enjoyable, yet they act like a few minutes of high intensity work is far preferable to 20 minutes on a treadmill. I am reminded of a quote from The Princess Bride applied to the phrase 'high intensity': “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”


But for the right audience at the right time, this could be a useful circuit for maintaining your fitness while on vacation or getting started exercising with limited time and budget. Try it out and let us know what you think!



1. Brett Klika and Chris Jordan. High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results with Minimal Investment. ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal: May/June 2013 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p 8–13. doi: 10.1249/FIT.0b013e31828cb1e8


Photo courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.

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