Beginner circuit workout – simple 8 exercise routine

If you want to start working out at home, then give this beginner circuit workout a try. It’s a 20 minute, equipment-free full body routine with no mat work. There are 8 exercises – 4 cardio and 4 strength, to be done for 30 seconds each circuit. 

Notes on doing the beginner circuit workout

Beginner circuit workout with PDF

Beg-int 20min

  1. Before you do the workout, please read these general exercise guidelines.
  2. Jogging and side leaps are high impact exercises. They may not be suitable if you have problems with your hips, knees or ankles, if you are overweight, or if you find them uncomfortable for any other reason. If this applies to you, then see the end of the post for some suggested low impact circuits.
  3. Complete 30 seconds of each exercise. If it is a single leg exercise, do 15 seconds on one leg and then swap. When you’ve done all 8 exercises, start again for the second circuit. Continue like this until you’ve done 4 circuits.
  4. You should do a warm up for this workout – see here for a suitable one and read more about why warm ups are important here.
  5. When you’ve finished the final circuit, march in place until your heart rate returns to normal.

The exercises

#1 squats


  1. Have your feet a little more than hip distance apart, parallel or slightly turned out.
  2. Bend at your knees and hips as you lower into squat position. Aim to get your thighs parallel with the floor.
  3. Come back up gently, making sure you don’t jerk your knees backwards.
  4. Avoid arching your back or rounding your shoulders and keep your neck in line with your spine.

#2 Jog

Beginner circuit workout - jog

  1. Keep your shoulders back and abdominal muscles engaged.
  2. Focus on jogging in a controlled way, don’t land heavily on your feet.

#3 Lunge behind

Lunges behind

  1. Stand with your feet about hip distance apart.
  2. Take one leg out behind you and touch your toes to the floor.
  3. Now bend at both knees, so that you lower your body towards the floor. At the end of the movement, your thighs should be parallel with the floor.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat on your other leg.

#4 Knee lift

Knee lift

  1. Raise your arms overhead.
  2. Lower your arms as you lift one knee.
  3. Raise your arms as you lower the knee.
  4. Lower your arms as you lift the other knee.

#5 leg lift behind

Beginner circuit workout hip extension

  1. Have both hands on the wall for support.
  2. Make sure that you stand straight and don’t arch your low back.
  3. Take one leg out behind you, and flex your foot, so that only your toes are touching the floor.
  4. Lift your leg as high as you can without arching your back.
  5. Lower your leg back down, until your toes touch the floor behind you. Then repeat.

#6 Wall press up

Wall press up

  1. Stand at arms length from the wall, feet hip distance apart.
  2. Place your palms on the wall at chest height, a bit wider than shoulder distance.
  3. Allow your arms to bend at your elbows as you lean towards the wall, keeping your body in a straight line.
  4. Push yourself away from the wall back to your starting position.

#7 Side leg lift

Beginner circuit workout side leg raise

  1. Stand sideways to the wall and put one hand on it for support.
  2. Make sure you are standing straight (not bending forward), with your butt pulled under your body.
  3. Lift your leg out to the side, making sure it is in line with your body – as if you were standing in a very narrow space between 2 walls. Take your leg as high as you can without leaning over. Lower and repeat.

#8 side leaps

Beginner circuit workout side leaps

  1. Start by standing with your feet close together.
  2. Raise your right knee, then jump sideways to the right, leading with your right leg.
  3. Follow through with your left leg, bringing your left foot close to your right.
  4. Now lift your left knee and repeat to the left.

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