I’m always on the lookout for ways to pair exercises together into circuits to get more exercises done in less time to increase intensity, get cardiovascular benefits, and improve results.
The leg strength circuit below, which combines Step Ups with Jump Step Ups will help you make improvements to your cardiovascular health without going for a long, boring jog. The best part is that this circuit only takes around 10 minutes if you do 5 rounds as a workout, yet it’s brutally effective.
10 Minute Cardio Instructions
You will complete 20 step ups on a platform that challenges you, then with no rest complete 20 jump step ups for a total of 40 reps. I have below more information on how to complete each exercise to match your specific fitness level. Complete 3-5 rounds as a workout, or during a longer workout.
Leg Circuit Exercise #1: Step Ups
Step Ups are a functional exercise that I encourage you to incorporate into your routine if you do not use them already. Step ups improve your balance and coordination, while activating your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
In the video and photo above, I’m using a bench that’s about 18 inches from the ground. The higher the platform, the more difficult the exercise becomes and the more glute and hamstring activation. The shorter the platform, the easier the exercise becomes and the less overall strength benefits.
There are 2 primary variations with the step ups you can use: (1) stepping up with one leg, then standing on the bench, or (2) kicking up the opposite leg as you step up. Variations #2 requires more balance and coordination and I strongly prefer this method if you can do it. You also incorporate your abs complex into the equation to a greater degree.
Finally, you can add weight by holding dumbbells in your hands, which is what I prefer and instead of alternating legs as you step up every rep, you can use the same leg for several repetitions, then switch legs.
Step Ups Exercise Instructions:
- Stand 6 inches in front of a bench, or raised platform
- Step onto the bench with your right leg, while making sure your foot is flat against the bench.
- Lean forward slightly and push yourself upwards through the heel of your right foot, so your left leg is able to come up to the bench.
- Step down with the right leg under control.
- Repeat the same sequence with the left leg.
Leg Circuit Exercise #2: Jump Step Ups
Jump steps ups are a fantastic plyometric exercise that can help improve your stamina, explosiveness, and cardiovascular capacity.
Because jump steps ups are more challenging then bench step ups, you may consider using weight for the bench step ups, but no weight with the jump step ups. Using weight with jump steps ups can get your heart rate up very fast and is an advanced exercise.
Jump Step Ups Instructions:
- Stand 6 inches in front of a bench, or raised platform.
- Step up onto the bench with your right leg, while making sure your foot is flat against the bench.
- Lean forward slightly and forcefully jump upwards using your right leg.
- Smoothly catch your weight with your left leg on the bench, and then with your right leg on the floor.
- Repeat the same sequence continuously alternating left and right.
When should you do this leg circuit?
- Complete 5 rounds of this circuit for an intense and effective 10 minute workout
- Incorporate this leg circuit into a longer circuit of 4 to 5 exercises
- Do it at the end of your workout as a finishing exercise
At the end of the day, you can use this circuit any way you want to, but the preceding is how I have used it.
If you try it, let me know what you think!