woman smiling while doing a plank on the beach

Spice Up Your Home Strength Training Workouts With This Fun Alternative

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!

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.

Pile of workout equipment including shoes, weights, and a exercise ball

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.

Lady smiling doing a plank on the beach

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.


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

Work out mat and dumbbell

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.

Your Turn!

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!

Woman doing bicycle crunches on a mat

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.

Share the knowledge!

Author: clarissa.cabbage

Clarissa is a health coach, autoimmune warrior, and avid adventurer. And she is on a mission to help women escape the diet-culture mentality so they can build healthy habits they actually WANT to stick to - without all the guilt, deprivation and FOMO! When she's not coaching amazing women like yourself, you'll find her outside - hiking, paddling, and hunting for hidden waterfalls on the island of Kauai where she lives with her partner and furry side-kick, Ipo!

16 Replies to “Spice Up Your Home Strength Training Workouts With This Fun Alternative

    1. You’re very welcome Maddie! I don’t know what it is about this particular workout set-up, but I find myself competing against the clock and pushing myself a lot more than I would with just regular sets. Hope you enjoy!

  1. This is such a great post. I’ve been looking for some more home workout ideas since I have a lot more time on my hands now. Thanks for sharing all this!

    1. You’re very welcome Charity! That’s a great use of the extra time. I love at home workouts – I’ll try to keep posting ideas for them periodically. Enjoy!

  2. Ladder circuits sound great if you’re a little short on time! I’ve been struggling a little to find a rhythm with my workout routine since being away from the gym but I’ve still been trying to do my best at home so I might incorporate this style next week! x


    1. Sounds like a plan Sophie! You’re right, this is a great workout for those days when you’re busy and might not able to make it to the gym (once they open again). It’s also a fun little curve ball to mix things up. Have fun!

      1. I know, easier said than done! I hope this is a little more tempting than the usual though!

  3. I used to love doing stuff like this at the gym. I’ve been gradually working on increasing my workout times. Right now I’m doing some squats, plank, then walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes each morning. It’s a start I guess.

    1. It’s a great start Jennifer! Something is always better than nothing, and I’m a big proponent of starting slow when getting back into things. Stick with it, you’ll get there again!

  4. All these terminologies are really new to me. I had been a couch potato for most of my life. Luckily i took to yoga just a month before the lockdown and I must say it has been one of my greatest stress buster in this lockdown. Workouts are so essential. I am sure your ideas would be greatly beneficial to everyone looking to workout at home.

    1. That’s awesome timing Manju! Exercise is probably the number one way I deal with stress. I am so glad that you found a way to cope with the stress of this lockdown that works for you!

  5. Thanks for this. Some really good suggestions here. I’ll be giving some of them a go soon, I’m sure.

  6. I love circuit training because I get bored and tired easily when a workout repeats one move forever. I like the idea of using ladder circuit training to increase reps and challenge myself. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You and me both Eliza! I get bored very easily with repetitive workouts. I hope this makes things a little more exciting for you!

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