Plyometrics are total-body cardio exercises that are designed to push your muscles to their full potential in a short amount of time.
Plyometrics cardio exercises:
- are quick and effective
- build endurance, speed, and strength
- work on agility, balance, and coordination
- help improve cardiovascular fitness
- promote weight loss and improving athletic performance
In general, plyometric cardio circuits are aimed at people who are already physically fit, but there are modifications to suit all levels.
Plyometric cardio exercises are simple but intense. They can be done as a circuit routine made up of a set period of exercise followed by rest.
Doing these physically demanding exercises consistently will help you to develop strength and power that will get you in shape. They can be done as the core part of your fitness routine or in addition to other activities.
Conveniently, a plyometric cardio circuit can be done at home or the gym.
The following nine cardio exercises can be done as a mini circuit. It’s a good idea to master a few exercises before adding in new ones.
How to do it
- Start by doing a 30-minute session 2-4 times per week and build up the duration and frequency as you build strength and endurance.
- Do each exercise for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rest for 30 seconds in between.
- You can do each exercise twice before moving on to the next move.
It’s your practice, so feel free to modify to suit your needs. Work hard, push yourself, and aim for improvement if you want to gain the most benefits.
Start by warming up for 5-10 minutes.
1. Standing mountain climbers
- Run with high knees.
- Alternate your arms up and down as though you’re reaching for ladder rungs.
Here’s a video example.
2. Ski jumpers
- Jump from side to side with bent knees and feet together.
- Swing your arms as though you’re skiing.
Watch a video on how to do this move with pointers on position.
3. Football wide sprints
- Run on the spot with a wide stance.
- Extend your arms out in front of you.
- Drop to the ground, then get up and run again.
4. Ski abs
- Start in plank position with your feet together.
- Keeping your feet together, jump them out to the side and toward your left shoulder.
- Jump back to the starting plank position.
- Then do the opposite side.
In this move, you also twist at the waist when you jump your feet out to one side. Your feet should land farther out than your elbow.
Watch a video on how to do this move with a modification for beginners.
5. Squat thrust
- Start in plank position.
- Jump your feet forward to come into a wide squat.
- Raise your arms overhead.
- Drop your hands back down to the floor.
- Jump back into the plank position.
Here are more ways to perform and vary squat thrusts.
6. Jump squats
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips with your toes facing forward or slightly outward.
- Lower down into a squat, bringing your thighs parallel to the floor.
- Jump up explosively.
- Upon landing, lower back down into a squat and continue the movement.
7. Single-leg hops
- Stand with both knees slightly bent.
- Lift your right foot off the floor, yielding your weight onto your left foot. Stay standing on your left foot.
- Jump to the left, landing on your left foot.
- Then jump to the right, landing on your left foot.
- Continue this movement.
- Then do the opposite side.
For more focus, tape or use a line on the ground as a point of reference to jump toward and away from.
8. In-out abs
- Start in a plank position.
- Keeping your hands planted on the ground, jump your feet forward, landing in a wide stance.
- Jump back to the starting position.
9. Power squats with arms
- Start in a low squat position with your hands on the floor.
- Jump up as though you’re shooting a basketball.
- Upon landing, squat back down and repeat.
Finish with a 5-10 minute cooldown that includes full-body stretches.
When you’re ready, try a guided routine or in-person workout with a trainer. And always feel free to make modifications as needed.
You can increase or decrease the difficulty of the exercises. If you’re a beginner, start by learning some plank variations to strengthen your body and prepare it for some of the moves.
Easing into circuit training
- To make your workout easier, choose exercises that are low impact and require a smaller range of motion.
- Do the exercises slowly so you can learn proper form.
- Take longer breaks in between intervals.
Gradually you can increase the difficulty, intensity, and duration of your workouts.
Ready for more challenge?
- Increase the duration of your intervals and sessions.
- Go deeper into the positions and use a full range of motion.
- Change the exercises often so your body doesn’t get used to certain ones.
- Try reducing the amount of resting time in between interval.
Burning out and quitting is common with this type of demanding workout. If you think you have a better chance of sticking to the workout by lessening its intensity, create an easier circuit routine that works for you.
The Insanity workout is a two-month program created by personal trainer Shaun Thompson. It’s a set routine that’s based on the MAX interval training method, which is where you do intense activity for 3-5 minutes and then rest for 30 seconds. Sessions are 40-60 minutes long and are meant to be done 6 days per week.
The plyometric cardio circuit is one of the 10 high-intensity workouts in the program, which is designed to be done at home by following along with the video series. Some fitness centers have Insanity classes with instructors who have been certified through Shaun Thompson.
While a plyometric cardio circuit can bring immense benefits, the high intensity of this workout can lead to injury or overexertion.
It’s not recommended for people who are new to fitness or who have joint, orthopedic, or cardiovascular concerns. It’s especially hard on the knees, hips, and ankles.
Consider working with a fitness expert if you want to do a plyometric cardio workout and would benefit from one-on-one instruction.
Make sure you have the strength, stability, and fitness level to do the exercises safely and correctly. You should have a strong awareness of body positioning so you can be sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. Listen to your body and always work within your limits.
Plyometric circuit training is an intense workout that can be done at home. If you’re new to plyometrics, start with short intervals with more rest in between each, and work up to a more demanding routine.
Talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness regimen, especially if you have any medical concerns or take any medications.