Gyms and hiking trails are still closed in many parts of the country and world. If you’re stuck at home but still want to keep your muscles strong and toned, check out ladder circuit training!
For those already strength training, this fun, fast-paced workout is guaranteed to spice up your usual routine. If you’re new to strength training, it’s a more exciting alternative to what can be (let’s be honest here) a rather repetitive type of training.
This post will cover what a ladder circuit is, why you should care, how to make your own, and give you a workout that you can try today!
Table of Contents
What The Heck Is A Ladder Circuit?
Circuit Training is where you take several exercises that work different muscle groups and you perform them in a row without taking much rest in between. Then after completing all of the exercises once, you can repeat them for a second round, third round, and so on.
For example, If you do push-ups x10, squats x10, and crunches x10 all in a row without rest, and then repeat it again for a few rounds, that would be circuit training.
A ladder circuit has the same set-up, the repetitions just increase with each round. I like to start the first round with 3 reps, then go to 4 reps the second round, five reps on the third round etc.
Benefits of Ladder Circuits
The idea behind circuit training is that you can squeeze a lot of work into a short amount of time. Your muscle groups get to rest, because each exercise works a different part of the body. But because you are constantly moving, your heart rate stays high burning more calories.
Ladder Circuits Are Really Versatile
Pretty much any kind of equipment works for this type of workout. Dumbbells, kettle bells, and resistance bands are all great options. Or, my favorite, you could just use body weight which makes it perfect for quarantine.
Keep in mind though, that circuit training like this is typically a high volume (lots of reps) type of workout. So if you are going to use weights or resistance, use a weight that is light enough for you to do lots of reps while still keeping good form.
If you are going to do bodyweight exercises be sure to pick ones you can modify to make easier as the reps go up towards the end of the workout if you need to.
If you are looking for a little more cardio mixed in with your strength try adding some exercises that will get the heart rate up. For example, Burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, lunge jumps, jumping jacks etc. would be good options.
Ladder Circuits Are Great For All Fitness Levels
If you are just starting out, use easier exercises, do the reps slower, rest longer between exercises, or pick a lower total workout time, as needed.
If you are a more advanced exerciser, you can choose more difficult exercises, use added resistance, do the reps faster, take less rest between exercises, or go for a longer total workout time.
Ladder circuits allow people to go at their own speed and focus on form which is of course important for safety! If your form starts getting sloppy, just slow down a little.
5 Steps To Build Your Own Ladder Circuit Workout
- Step 1: Decide What you want to get out of your workout.
- Is it just strength? Strength and cardio?
- Do you want it to be full-body? Just lower or upper body?
- Step 2: Decide what kind of equipment you’d like to use, if any.
- Step 3: Pick exercises that meet the goals you listed in step 1 & 2.
- 4-5 exercises is typically a good number for me, but you could do more or less.
- Remember that the exercises need to alternate muscle groups.
- Step 4: Choose a starting number of reps for round one.
- I usually recommend 3 reps, but you could make it simple, and start with 1 rep for round 1!
- Step 5: Choose how long you want your workout to be. (How long determines how many rounds you will be able to get done.)
- 10 minutes might be a good place to start for beginners
- 20 minutes is pretty good for advanced exercisers.
- Remember – only rest as much as is necessary to keep good form. Once form starts suffering, slow down or take more rest in between exercises.
Example Ladder Circuit Workout
Here is an example of a full-body, bodyweight only workout, that works on both strength and cardio. This would be a good example of a beginner level workout.
- Modified push-ups – from knees or with hands elevated.
- Jumping jacks
- Hip bridge
- Modified chair dips
Start with one rep per exercise in round one, and add one rep per round for 15 minutes. Rest and modify exercises as needed to maintain form.
(Notice the exercises alternate muscle groups. Squats = lower body, push-ups = upper body, jumping jacks = cardio, hip bridge = lower body, dips = upper body.)
When performing the workout, it would look like this:
- R1 – 1 rep of: Squats, modified push-ups, jumping jacks, hip bridge, modified dips.
- R2 – 2 reps of: Squats, modified push-ups, jumping jacks, hip bridge, modified dips.
- R3 – 3 reps of: Squats, modified push-ups, jumping jacks, hip bridge, modified dips.
- Continue adding one rep per round for as many rounds as you can fit into 15 minutes.
Get Your Workout On
Make sure you have enough space around you to perform the exercises without things getting in the way. If some of your exercises are on the ground you may want to grab a towel or yoga mat.
Now get your water, blast your favorite playlist, start your timer, and get your sweat on. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
Track Your Progress
Once you complete your workout the first time, write down how many rounds you were able to complete in the given time. For example, 5 rounds in 15 minutes.
Now try the same workout a couple times over the next few weeks. You should start to notice that you are getting more rounds in as time goes on. As you get in better shape, you will be able to do the exercises faster and need less rest.
Each time you complete the workout, try to challenge yourself to beat the number of rounds you got last time. You don’t have to blow it out of the water, we’re just looking for steady improvement.
Plus, I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve got a mean competitive streak! Especially when it comes to beating my last performance.
Feel free to try my example workout, or make your own!
As you are working towards becoming more active, I would love for you to start feeling more confident about designing your own workouts. If you are going to build healthy habits and make fitness a part of your lifestyle long-term, this is a really important skill.
I know it can be tricky at first, but like anything, it just takes practice. Be creative, and have fun with it!
If you do decide to make your own workout, I’d love for you to share it in the comments and let us know how it went! Don’t forget to include your exercises, how many reps you started the first round with, and the total time of the workout.
If you’ve got any questions at all, please please put them here in the comments or feel free to reach out to me on any of my social media sites. I LOVE helping people on their journey. 🙂
Oh, and if you’re looking for some fun, non-running, cardio workouts you can do at home with no equipment, check out these.