Upper Body Cardio Circuit Workout for Fun and Calorie-Blasting

This upper body circuit challenge has a little bit of everything. There are a variety of strength exercises targeting the chest, back, shoulders and arms and, interspersed with each series of exercises are short, high-intensity cardio segments to get your heart rate up and keep the calories burning. By doing everything in a circuit format, the workout moves quickly and keeps the heart rate going so you burn bonus calories.


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

Equipment Needed

Various weighted dumbbells, a barbell, a resistance band, a med ball, and a step or platform.

How To

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes with light to moderate cardio.
  • Perform the exercises in each circuit, one after the other with little or no rest in between.  
  • Do 1 circuit for a shorter workout, or do 2 or more circuits for a longer, more intense workout.
  • Use enough weight or resistance so that you can only complete the suggested number of reps.

Chest Circuit - Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers
Ben Goldstein

In a pushup position, run the knees in and out as quickly as you can, alternating sides. Touch the toes to the floor with each run or keep them in the air. Repeat for 60 seconds.


Pushups With Med Ball Rolls

Ben Goldstein

Get into pushup position on the knees (easier) or the toes (more difficult) and place one hand on a medicine ball with the other on the floor. Lower into a pushup, push back up and roll the ball across the floor to the other hand for a pushup. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds.


Band Chest Press With a Front Lunge

One Arm Band Chest Press
Paige Waehner

With the band secured at chest level from behind, step forward into a lunge as you press one arm forward in a chest press. Step back to start and repeat for 16 reps on each side.


Back Circuit - Jumping Jacks With Resistance Band Lat Pulls

Jumping Jacks with Resistance Bands
Paige Waehner

Hold a resistance band in both hands overhead. As you jump the feet out, bring the arms down to either side, squeezing through the back. Jump the feet back together, taking the arms overhead. Repeat for 60 seconds.


Rear Lunge With Double Arm Row

Lunge Row
Paige Waehner

Hold medium-heavy weights and step back with the right leg into a straight-leg lunge. Tip forward from the hips, back flat, and pull the elbows up in a double arm row. Lower, step back to start and repeat for 16 reps on each leg. For intensity, lift the back leg at the same time you pull the weights up.


Barbell High Row

Barbell High Row
Paige Waehner

Hold a barbell with hands wide and tip forward until the back is parallel to the floor, abs engaged and back flat.  Squeeze the upper back to pull the weight towards the chest.  Lower and repeat for 15 reps. Keep the abs tight and bend the knees as needed to support the lower back.   


Side Lunge With One Arm Row

Side Lunge with Row
Paige Waehner

With the weight in the left hand, step out to the right into a lunge, taking the weight towards the floor. Pull the weight into a row as you lift the right leg into a side leg lift. Repeat for 15 reps and switch sides.


Knee With Side Kick

Side Knee with Kick
Paige Waehner

Lift the left knee up and out to the side as you bring the left elbow down, squeezing the obliques. Step down with the left foot and kick out with the right, being careful not to hyperextend the knee. Repeat for 30 seconds and switch sides.


Side Squat With an Arnold Press

Side Squat with Arnold Press
Paige Waehner

Holding the weights at chest level with palms facing in, take a wide step out to the right into a squat. As you step the right foot back to center, press the arms overhead and rotate the weights out. Lower the weights as you step out to the left, alternating sides. You can also add a jump instead of a step for more intensity. Repeat for 16 reps.


Weighted Snatch and Swing

Weighted Swing
Paige Waehner

Stand in a staggered stance and hold a heavy weight in the right hand. Swing the weight back and then straight up over the shoulder. Pause at the top and slowly lower the weight down for 4 counts. Repeat for 12 reps on each side.


Squat With Iron Cross

Squat with Iron Cross
Paige Waehner

Holding the weights in front of the thighs, squat as you lift the weights up into a front raise. Take the arms out to the sides as you stand up and then lower them down. Repeat for 12 reps.


Biceps Circuit - Over the Top on the Step

Over the Top on Step
Paige Waehner

Hold a weight in both hands and stand sideways to a step or platform with the right foot resting on top. Step onto the stop, pressing the weight overhead and then step off the other side, leaving the left foot on top of the step and lower the weight. Continue going over the top, adding a jump for more intensity if desired. Repeat for 60 seconds.


Barbell Curls - Crazy 8's

Barbell Biceps Curl
Paige Waehner

Hold a barbell with hands shoulder-width apart and lift the weight halfway up. Lower and repeat for 8 reps and then take the weight all the way up, only bringing it halfway down for 8. Finish up with 8 full reps.


Hammer Curl With Power Squat

Paige Waehner

Hold heavy weights in both hands. Swing the weights back slightly as you squat, powering the weights forward into a hammer curl while squatting as low as you can.  Stand up as you lower the weights and repeat for 12 reps.


Triceps Circuit - Ice Breakers

Ice Breakers
Paige Waehner

Begin in a squat position and jump in the air, circling the right arm around and down into a chop as you land. Jump in the air again, this time chopping down with the left arm. Continue alternating sides for 60 seconds.


Dips With Leg Extensions

Dip with Leg Extension. Paige Waehner

Sit on a step or chair, hands next to thighs, knees bent. Push off the step and bend the elbows into a dip. As you press up, extend the right leg, reaching for the toe with your left hand. Lower and repeat on the other side, alternating sides for 30-60 seconds.


Lying Triceps Extensions

Triceps Extensions
Paige Waehner

Lie on a bench or floor and hold weights straight up over the shoulders, palms facing each other. Bend the elbows and lower the weights towards the ears. Press back up and repeat for 16 reps.

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