February is all about hearts—and we’re not talking the candy kind or the cute Valentines you’ll soon be handing out to your sweetie. We’re talking American Heart Month, an entire month dedicated to raising awareness about cardiovascular health. Nearly one-third of deaths in the United States are caused by heart disease and other cardiovascular-related conditions—according to the American Heart Association—but fortunately, there are several factors that can dramatically improve your heart health, with exercise being just one of them.
So in celebration of American Heart Month, we’ve designed a quick-but-high-intensity exercise circuit that helps improve your heart health, work up a sweat, and get in shape all at the same time. The best part: It takes less than 10 minutes (30 minutes if you do the circuit 3 times) and can be done at pretty much any gym with just a few pieces of equipment. Check out our how-to video below—featuring Wantable’s Fitness Buyer and Certified Personal Trainer, Susan Ricchio—then follow the simple instructions for executing each exercise. (Hint: Do the entire exercise in a circuit, performing each step for a full 45 seconds-1 minute before resting briefly and moving on to the next one.)
What you’ll need:
Exercise 1: Battle Ropes-Squatting with Alternate Waves
1. Standing with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, bend and squat as if you’re sitting in a chair. Make sure your knees are in line with your toes to avoid putting any strain on your knees.
2. Grab a battle rope in each hand, then lift the ropes one hand at a time, alternating the ropes as quickly as you can in a wave motion.
Susan’s tip: Battle ropes are one of the most effective, full-body exercises you can do, torching calories and fat all while getting yourself stronger. The more intense you are at “thrashing” the ropes, the higher your rate will ge and therefore will burn more calories, not to mention will build your core, arms, shoulders, back, and lower half.
Exercise 2: Speed Jump Roping
1. Holding one end of the jump rope in each hand, begin jump roping as quickly as possible, moving from one foot to the other instead of lifting both feet at once.
Susan’s tip: My go-to for jump roping is good music on my headset! All kidding aside, it really does help in getting you through a long jump roping session. As you become more advanced in jump roping, the footwork becomes key in helping to burn more calories. For example, jump rope with high knees or side-to-side motion to increase your heart rate even more. There are also speciality weighted jump ropes for those who want to add a whole new level of intensity.
Exercise 3: Kettlebell Two-Arm Swings with Squats
1. Standing with legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, grab the kettle bell (5-20 lbs. depending on your level) in both hands. Swing kettlebell in front of you, so that your arms are parallel with the floor.
2. Bending into a squat position, bring the kettle bell down and through your legs. Return to the start position and repeat.
Susan’s tip: Be sure to keep your back in perfect alignment throughout the movement to prevent injury. Your core should be engaged throughout entire movement to help increase core stability.
Exercise 4: Bosu Ball Side Lunges
1. Start by placing your left leg on your bosu ball, with your right leg bent and out to the side in a forward-facing lunge/squat position.
2. Switch legs so that the right leg hops on the bosu ball and your left leg steps out onto the floor. Repeat, switching sides continuously as you go.
Susan’s tip: Don’t go too fast that you lose your form. Use your arms like you would for a running motion to help with your balance and form. This is a great exercise for helping build your core so be sure you keep your core tight throughout the movement. Constant tension on your core will help keep your form in check.
Exercise 5: Side-to-Side Burpees
1. This move begins like the basic burpee: lower into a squat position and place your hands on the ground about a foot in front of your feet. Next, instead of jumping your feet back directly behind you, shoot them out diagonally to the right so you’re balanced on your hands and toes, with your shoulders directly over your hands.
2. Jump your feet back under your body so you’re in a low squat. Jump straight up and bring your hands above your head
3. Repeat on the other side. Continue burpees, alternating sides.
Susan’s tip: Another great all over body exercise that utilizes all the core muscles. To prevent poor form and injury, be sure your core is tight throughout the entire movement. Yes, it’s important to do these as fast as you can to get the heart rate up, but never sacrifice your form for speed.
Exercise 6: Side-to-Side Skater Lunges
1. Start by facing forward, with your feet together, in a slight squat position. Jump sideways to the left, landing on your left leg. Bring your right leg behind your left leg, slightly touching the floor.
2. Reverse direction and repeat. Continue alternating sides, swing arms naturally as you go.
Susan’s tip: As you become more advanced, don’t touch your foot to the floor, but instead have your foot inches above the floor. This will help increase the intensity and keep the core even more engaged. The perfect exercise for toning the glutes, hamstrings, thighs, and core all at once.
Exercise 7: Plank Jacks
1. Start in a plank position, making sure your body is in a straight line from head to toe, feet together, your shoulders over your wrists, and your core engaged.
2. Like the motion of a jumping jack, jump your legs wide apart then back together, and repeat continuously. Jump as quickly as you want, but keep your pelvis steady and don’t let your body rise towards the ceiling.
Susan’s tip: To prevent injury, always be sure to keep your body in a straight line throughout the entire movement, this includes not raising your head (bending your neck). Keep constant tension in your core to get the full benefit of the exercise.