Olympic Cardio and Strength Circuit Workout

You've watched the Olympics and you've seen those strong, fit bodies... how do they get that way? Hours and hours of training for days, weeks, years, of course.

Most of us don't have the time, energy or inclination to train like that, but there's something we can do to be more like athletes. Many Olympic athletes share something 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 things. All you need is a workout that challenges all of those areas and more.

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

This workout has everything you need to train like an athlete, as you move from one exercise to another with little or no rest to keep your heart rate up.

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


See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed

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

How to Do the Advanced Cardio and Strength Circuit

  • Perform each exercise in the circuit , one after the other, resting between exercises as needed
  • For a long workout, do each circuit twice (as suggested). You can also do one circuit of each for a shorter workout.
  • If this is your first time doing this workout, go through each exercise once slowly to learn the exercises. 
  • 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.

Warm Up

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.


Circuit 1: Jumping Jacks to Step

jumping jacks boxing warmup

dolgachov/Getty Images

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


Front and Rear Lunges

Hold medium weights and lunge forward with right leg. Push into the heel to come back, lift the knee for a balance challenge and take the right leg back into a reverse lunge. Repeat for 12 reps on the right leg. On the second circuit, repeat this move on the left leg for 12 reps. If you're only doing one circuit, do both sides. 


Wall Sit With Leg Lifts

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



Hold heavy weights just over the shoulders or at your sides and squat until the knees are at about 90 degrees. Lift halfway up and lower back down before standing all the way up.

That's one rep. Repeat for 15 reps. 


Long Jumps

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

REPEAT Circuit 1, Exercises 1-5.


Circuit 2: Burpees With Mountain Climbers

Squat and place your hands on the floor. In an explosive movement, jump feet back into a push-up position. 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. Jump the left foot back, jump feet back between hands and stand up. Complete 12 reps. 


Step Ups

Stand behind a 15-inch platform and hold heavy weights. Place the right foot on the step, transfer the weight to the heel and push into the heel to come onto the step. Slowly step back down and repeat for 15 reps before switching sides.


Tiptoe Squats

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


Deadlift Lunge

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). From there, straighten the front knee in a deadlift. Bend the knee and push back to start, repeating for 12 reps on the right leg. During the 2nd circuit, repeat this move on the left leg.


Prisoner Squat Jumps

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

REPEAT Circuit 2, Exercises 1-5.


Circuit 3: Froggy jumps

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


Squat, Curl and Press

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


Staggered Pushups

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


Dumbbell Rows

Bend over until torso is parallel to floor and hold heavy weights in both hands. Bend the elbows and pull the weights up until the elbows are level with the torso. Lower and repeat for 8 regular reps, followed by 8 small, slow pulses.


Toe Taps to Step and Jumping Jacks

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

REPEAT Circuit 3, Exercises 1-5.


Circuit 4: Side to Side Jumping Lunge

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. Quickly shift the feet in the air to shift the lunge to the other side. Continue alternating sides for 1 minute. 


Rear Delt Squeezes

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


Chest Presses

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


Arnold Press

Begin with the arms bent in front of the body, palms facing the chest. As you press the arms up over the head, rotate the palms out. Lower back down, rotating the hands back to starting position and repeat for 12 reps.


Squat Jumps

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

REPEAT Circuit 4, Exercises 1-5.


Circuit 5: Plyo-Jacks

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



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


Biceps Curls

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



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


Hammer Curls

Hold heavy weights with palms facing in. Bend the elbows and curl the weights toward the shoulders, keeping the palms facing one another. Lower back down and repeat for 15 reps.

REPEAT Circuit 5, Exercises 1-5.


Cool Down

Take a 5-10 minutes to do a complete cool down and stretch. Walk or do a very easy jog to bring your heart rate down and breathing back to normal. Complete a few basic stretches to lengthen and relax the muscles that you just worked.

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Article Sources
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