Olympic Cardio and Strength Circuit Workout

Most of us don't have the time, energy, or inclination to train like Olympians, but there's something we can do to be more like them. Many Olympic athletes share some things in common: They have strength, power, endurance, and discipline.

The good news is, you don't have to be an Olympian to cultivate all of those qualities. All you need is a workout that challenges those areas and more.

This advanced calorie-burning workout does just that with a mixture of strength and cardio exercises. Not only will you build power with plyometric exercises, but you'll also keep your heart rate elevated to build endurance, and lift weights for strength.

Each circuit includes 5 exercises: 2 high-intensity cardio exercises and 3 strength exercises. Most moves are performed for about a minute, but feel free to modify each exercise to fit your schedule.

Following the workout with short rests between exercises will take 60 to 65 minutes. If you take longer breaks or do additional reps, the workout may take longer. Make adjustments as needed.

How to Do the Advanced Cardio and Strength Circuit

Complete a 10-minute warm-up by walking up and down stairs or jogging. You can also walk briskly, march in place, or cycle on a stationary bike. Or, you may wish to do some active stretching and mobility work for a more thorough warm-up. Then:

  • Perform each exercise in the circuit, one after the other, resting between exercises as needed.
  • For a longer workout, do each circuit twice. You can also do one circuit of each for a shorter workout.
  • Go through each exercise once slowly to learn the exercises if this is your first time through.

Precautions

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other medical conditions that affect your ability to exercise.

Be sure to monitor your intensity throughout the workout and back off if your heart rate gets too high. Modify the workout as needed and avoid any exercises that cause pain or that are confusing.

Equipment Needed

Various weighted dumbbells, an exercise ball, a step or staircase, a band, and medicine ball (substitute a weight if needed).

1

Circuit 1: Jumping Jacks to Step

Jumping Jacks to Step
Ben Goldstein
  1. Stand in front of a 4- to 8-inch step and jump onto the step with both feet.
  2. Jump down to the floor (or step down to modify) and do a jumping jack.
  3. After jumping the feet back together, jump back onto the step.
  4. Continue alternating a jump on the step with a jack on the floor for 24 reps.
2

Front and Rear Weighted Lunges

  1. Hold medium weights and lunge forward with right leg.
  2. Push into the heel to come back, lift the knee for a balance challenge and take the right leg back into a reverse lunge.
  3. Complete 12 reps on each side. If you're only doing one circuit, do both sides now. If you're doing two circuits, do 12 reps on the right leg in the first circuit, then repeat this move on the left leg on the second circuit.
3

Wall Sit With Leg Lifts

  1. With an exercise ball supporting the back, lower into a wall sit until thighs are parallel to the floor.
  2. Lift the right foot off the floor a few inches, lower, then lift the left foot off the floor.
  3. Keep the body low and avoid bouncing up and down.
  4. Continue alternating sides for 1 minute. 
4

Squats

  1. Hold heavy weights just over the shoulders or at your sides and squat until the knees are about 90 degrees.
  2. Lift halfway up and lower back down before standing all the way up.
  3. That's one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. 
5

Long Jumps

  1. Jump forward as far as you can with both feet together, landing with the knees soft.
  2. Continue for a total of 3 jumps (or as much room as you have), jump to turn around, and take 3 jumps back.
  3. Repeat for 1 minute.

That's the end of Circuit 1. If you're doing two circuits, repeat exercises 1 to 5 now.

6

Circuit 2: Burpees With Mountain Climbers

  1. Squat and place your hands on the floor. In an explosive movement, jump feet back into a push-up position. This is the burpee.
  2. Bring the right foot in, touch the toe to the floor and switch the feet in the air, bringing the right foot back and the left foot forward. This is the mountain climber.
  3. Jump the left foot back, jump feet back between hands and stand up.
  4. Complete 12 reps. 
7

Step-Ups

  1. To do a step-up, stand behind a 15-inch platform and hold heavy weights.
  2. Place the right foot on the step, transfer the weight to the heel and push into the heel to come onto the step.
  3. Slowly step back down.
  4. Repeat for 15 reps before switching sides.
8

Tiptoe Squats

  1. Stand with feet about hip distance apart and squat, placing hands on the floor.
  2. Raise up onto your tiptoes while lifting the hips up towards the ceiling and straightening the knees as much as you can.
  3. Squat back down, staying on your toes.
  4. Repeat for 20 reps.
9

Deadlift Lunges

  1. Get into a lunge position with the back foot resting on a step or platform. Hold light-medium weights and lower into a lunge, taking the torso to the thigh and the weights down (back flat).
  2. From there, straighten the front knee in a deadlift.
  3. Bend the knee and push back to start, repeating for 12 reps on the right leg.
  4. During the 2nd circuit, repeat this move on the left leg (if you're only doing one circuit, do 12 reps on the right and then 12 on the left).
10

Prisoner Squat Jumps

  1. Place the hands behind the head, elbows out.
  2. Bend the knees into a squat, knees behind the toes and torso leaning slightly forward.
  3. Jump as high as you can, landing with soft knees into a squat.
  4. Repeat for 60 seconds.

That's the end of Circuit 2. If you're doing two circuits, repeat exercises 6 to 10 now.

11

Circuit 3: Froggy Jumps

  1. Squat to the floor and, in an explosive movement, push up from the floor, jumping up in the air and tapping your heels together.
  2. Land with bent knees and go back into your squat to prepare for the next jump.
  3. Repeat for 10 reps, rest for a few seconds and repeat.
12

Squat Curl and Presses

  1. Hold medium weights and stand with feet about hip-distance apart.
  2. Squat down, touching the weights to the floor (back flat).
  3. Curl the weights up in a biceps curl, then press the weights overhead as you push to a standing position.
  4. Lower the weights and repeat for 12 reps.
  5. On the 2nd circuit, repeat the move on the left leg. 
13

Staggered Push-Ups

  1. In a push-up position, on the knees or toes, walk the left hand forward (keep the right hand in place) and do a push-up.
  2. For the next push-up, take the right hand forward and the left hand back.
  3. Continue alternating sides, completing 16 reps.
14

Dumbbell Rows

  1. For a dumbbell row, Bend over until your torso is parallel to the floor and hold heavy weights in both hands.
  2. Bend the elbows and pull the weights up until the elbows are level with the torso.
  3. Lower and repeat for 8 regular reps, followed by 8 small, slow pulses.
15

Toe Taps to Step and Jumping Jacks

  1. Stand in front of a step or small platform.
  2. Tap the left toe to the step, quickly shift the feet in the air and tap the step with the right toe.
  3. Alternate fast feet for 16 reps and then do 16 jumping jacks.
  4. Repeat 2 more times.   

That's the end of Circuit 3. If you're doing two circuits, repeat exercises 11 to 15 now.

16

Circuit 4: Side to Side Jumping Lunges

  1. Take the right leg out to the side and bend the left knee into a runner's lunge, going as low as you can and touching the hand to the floor.
  2. Quickly shift the feet in the air to shift the lunge to the other side.
  3. Continue alternating sides for 1 minute. 
17

Rear Delt Squeezes

  1. Hold a resistance band in the middle, arms straight out in front of you.
  2. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and pull the band so that arms are out to the sides like an airplane (palms face the ceiling).
  3. Return to start and repeat for 10 reps followed by 10 slow, controlled pulsing reps.
18

Chest Presses

Dumbbell chest press

Ben Goldstein

  1. Hold heavy weights over the chest, arms straight.
  2. Bend the elbows in a chest press.
  3. Press the weight halfway up, lower back down and then press all the way up.
  4. Repeat for 12 reps. 
19

Arnold Presses

  1. For an Arnold press, Begin with the arms bent in front of the body, palms facing the chest.
  2. As you press the arms up over the head, rotate the palms out.
  3. Lower back down, rotating the hands back to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 12 reps.
20

Squat Jumps

  1. Lower into a squat, knees behind the toes, squatting as low as you can.
  2. Jump up into the air, taking the arms overhead.
  3. Land with soft knees and repeat for 1 minute.

That's the end of Circuit 4. If you're doing two circuits, repeat exercises 16 to 20 now.

21

Circuit 5: Plyo-Jacks

  1. Begin with feet together and jump up, taking feet out to the side, landing in a low squat.
  2. Jump up and bring feet back together (a very slow jumping jack).
  3. Swing your arms overhead to add intensity.
  4. Do this move for 30 seconds, rest for a few seconds.
  5. Repeat for another 30 seconds.
22

Kickbacks

  1. Hold a medium-heavy weight in both hands and bend over until your torso is parallel to the floor.
  2. Bend the arms and pull the elbows up to torso level.
  3. Holding that position, straighten the arms out behind you, squeezing the triceps muscles into a kickback.
  4. Repeat for 16 reps.
23

Biceps Curls

bicep curl

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Hold heavy weights and bend the elbows, bringing the weights up in a biceps curl.
  2. Lower the weight all the way down, lift halfway up, and then lower back down again. That's one rep.
  3. Repeat for 12 reps.
24

Dips

Tricep Dip

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Sit on a chair or bench and lift up, keeping the hips close to the bench.
  2. Bend the elbows and lower down until elbows are at 90-degree angles.
  3. Push back up to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 1 minute.
25

Hammer Curls

hammer curls

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

  1. Hold heavy weights with palms facing in (hammer grip).
  2. Bend the elbows and curl the weights toward the shoulders, keeping the palms facing one another.
  3. Lower back down and repeat for 15 reps.

That's the end of Circuit 5. If you're doing two circuits, repeat exercises 21 to 25 now.

26

Cool Down

Take 5 to 10 minutes to do a complete cooldown and stretch.

  1. Walk or do a very easy jog to bring your heart rate down and your breathing back to normal.
  2. Complete a few basic stretches to lengthen and relax the muscles that you just worked.
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2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Vernillo G, Coulmy N, Millet GP. Editorial: Recent evolutions and perspectives in Olympic winter sports performance: To PyeongChang and beyond. Front Physiol. 2019;10:481. doi:10.3389/fphys.2019.00481

  2. Davies G, Riemann BL, Manske R. Current concepts of plyometric exercise. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(6):760-86.