Thirty Minutes to Fitness

September 5, 2020

Use this 9-step circuit to get in shape for your favorite winter sports.

It’s no secret that strength and stamina are the keys to successful winter sports season, and this simple circuit program will give you both. By moving through 10 exercises (called stations) in a short period of time, you’ll maintain an elevated heart rate while performing a sequence of anaerobic and aerobic drills. An added benefit is improved balance and coordination. Here’s how to get it done.

After a five-minute warmup fast walk or jog, begin the exercise in order. For each one, perform the exercise slowly and continuously for one minute. These are strength drills. Every third exercise is a cardiovascular drill that you’ll perform for three minutes, followed by a 30-second active cool down (just walk it out and keep your legs moving). If you haven’t been exercising steadily for the last six months, start your program with one circuit, cutting the time recommendations in half, i.e., 30 seconds per strength / 90 seconds per cardio station(s). As your fitness improves, work up to two circuits for a total of 40 minutes. When you can finish two circuits easily, add time to the exercises at 30-second intervals.

1. Squats (Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes)
1 minute
Look straight ahead and stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Keep your weight distributed evenly over both feet with heels flat. Inhale slowly as you lower your hips and weight your heels to mid-foot. Lower until your knees for a 90-degree angle. Slowly exhale as you press back up through your heels, contracting your glutes at the top of the move.

Easier: Squat until knees bend only to 45 degrees.
Advanced: Hold a rock or hand weights in each hand.

2. Calf Raises (Gastrocnemius, balance)
1 minute
Stand with your feet hip-width apart on the edge of a flat rock or a step. Keep your hands on your hips and balance on the balls of your feet. Focus on a spot at least 10 feet in front of you and exhale while you slowly push your heels up a few inches, then inhale as you gradually lower your heels over the edge. Focus on the contraction of your calf muscles during the lifting phase, then lower and release the muscles to stretch them fully.

Easier: Do the calf raises on flat ground.
Advanced: Keep your hands behind your head.

3. Lateral Shuffle (Cardio)
3 minutes
Hold your arms straight out on each side at shoulder height. Flex your knees and skip or shuffle you’re your feet sideways ten-to-twenty times before reversing direction. Emphasize your speed.

4. Triceps Dip (Triceps, deltoids)
Rest your palms on the edges of a bench or a log behind you and walk your feet out until your legs are extended out in front of your body (keep a slight bend to your knees). Keep your back close to the bench and inhale as you lower your body, bending your elbows to about 45-degrees. Press back up to the starting position as you exhale, making sure to avoid locking your elbows at the top of the move.

Easier: Move feet in knees are near a 90-degree bend.

5. Push-ups (Pectorals, anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, triceps, core)
1 minute
Place your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart against a fallen tree or stump. With a straight back, inhale slowly as you lower your chest and exhale steadily as you press back up to the start position.

Easier: Do vertical push-ups with feet about a yard from a wall or tree.
Advanced: Place feet on an object 12-24 inches above level of the hands.

6. Stair Hops (Cardio)
3 minutes
With your hands in front and feet apart, hop up a set of stairs or a hill. Keep your shoulders square and “turn” your feet to the right and then the left with each hop. Emphasize a quiet upper body. Shift weight from one foot to the other on the return trip down.

7. Single-Leg Lunges (Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps)
1 minute
Stand with your back to the incline of a hill or curb. Bend your right leg behind you and rest your toes at a point about 12 inches higher than your left foot. Keep your left knee aligned over your ankle to avoid strain and with a straight back, inhale as you drop your rear knee until your front knee reaches a 45-90-degree angle. Keep your left heel on the ground and return to the starting position as you exhale. Repeat for one minute on each leg.

Easier: Dip rear knee only halfway.
Advanced: Hold a rock or hand weights in each hand at your sides.

8. Hip Raises (Hip flexors, abs)
Lie with your back flat against the ground and tuck your hands under your tailbone. Keep your knees bent, tighten your abs and lift your hips a few inches off the ground. Inhale as you lower your hips slowly back to the starting position.

9. Hill Running (Cardio)
Take off up a hill or incline. Emphasize speed by using your elbows to set the tempo. For an agility exercise, run on an imaginary slalom course on the way back down.

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