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A few months ago I set a monthly intention of getting back into circuit workouts. We get a lot of regular exercise living in Denmark — we don’t have a car so we walk and bike everywhere, and ever since we moved I’d been really active and pretty good about working out at home, but I wanted to find a way to make it a more regular and enjoyable habit that was just part of my day.
Since setting this intention on August 1 I’ve completed 74 circuit workouts in 102 days, a few pilates workouts, a week of strenuous sea kayaking, and have hit my 10,000 step goal on 90 out of 102. I’m super happy that I’ve found something that I cannot only stick to, but I actually enjoy and look forward to. So what’s the trick been? I’m gonna tell ya.
My secret has been finding a short, at-home workout that I can do with minimal equipment, and combining that with my favorite life-hack: habit stacking. Want to learn more? Keep reading.
If you’re new to habit stacking I’d recommend checking out the blog post + podcast episode that I recorded about it. It goes into much more detail about how to successfully set it up, but in short: habit stacking is when you connect a new habit that you want to develop, onto a habit that is already really established in your daily routine. This places them on the same neuron path in your brain and helps you turn this new habit into a routine. For example, if you want to journal for 5 minutes every morning, you might set it up like this: “After I turn on the coffee maker in the morning I’ll sit by the window and journal until the coffee has finished brewing.” This connected the journaling to something you do every morning and will help you remember to do it.
So, using this method I worked circuit workouts into my morning routine. I have a well-established routine of getting up at 5 and going for a 30-60 minute walk with our dog, during which I listen to a podcast. I altered the routine to this using habit stacking:
I was already in the routine of getting up and putting on workout clothes for the walk, so it was easy to tell myself that I wouldn’t leave the house until I’d completed the ab circuit, which helped get the ball rolling every day. Two tips for motivating yourself:
Another trick I played with myself was to insert the Leg Circuit into the middle of the walk. Because listen, my dog’s gotta pee — so the walk isn’t optional — and by having the leg workout integrated into the walk it makes it hard to back-out on or skip. There’s a nice, fenced-in park at the half-way point of our regular morning walk, so I’m able to stop there, let Walter roam around off-leash, and do the 5-minute leg circuit before walking back home. When I get home I do the Arm Circuit before I start getting ready for the day.
It only took a couple of days for this to become a habit, and although I had only planned to do this 3-4 times a week, it has naturally become a daily routine and I really enjoy getting in those little movements every morning.
Now to tell you more about using Instagram for workouts! I’ve really been loving this because it’s free + easy and I can do it from anywhere (even in that park I mentioned earlier). But really, my phone is always with me so I don’t have an excuse not to get these 5-minute workouts in. I also find it to be a bit ironic, because it reminds me that I can easily waste 15-minutes scrolling Instagram each day so making time for these workouts should be a priority. (I also have a hunch that Instagram rewards business accounts for interacting on IGTV, because my engagement seemed to improve as soon as I started watching 15 minutes worth of workouts every day. Added bonus!)
In summary: I bookmark workouts that fitness gurus share on their Instagram accounts or IGTV channels, and organize them into a Saved Collection on my Instagram account that I have designated exclusively for workouts. This makes it fast and easy for me to open the app and pull up the workout from anywhere.
The Saved Collections feature on Instagram can be utilized a lot like Pinterest. I love organizing workouts there, but its also a great way to save recipes or places I want to travel. I know that some people aren’t familiar with using it, so I wanted to take a moment to walk you through the step-by-step process of using this feature. If you already know it then skip ahead!
When you’re scrolling Instagram and see a post you like (whether it’s a workout, recipe, or cute outfit) you can click on the little flag icon that appears below the image on the right side. When you tap it, it should change from white to black, indicating that it has been saved.
While there is an endless supply of free workouts on Instagram and I’m sure you will find your own (your best results will be finding exercises and routines that you actually enjoy!) I tend to really enjoy the content shared by Alexia Clark and wanted to share specifics about the ones I’ve been doing, because I think they are really great.
I already had a yoga mat, so the only thing I purchased in order to complete this was a light set of weights (they are 1.5 kg or 3.3 pounds each).
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I do the following workouts:
Alexia Clarks 5 Minute Shoulders (she uses a resistance band, but I just do the same moves with 3.3 lb weights)
On Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends I allow myself to do whatever I’m in the mood for. I have basically all of Alexia Clark’s 5-Minute Challenge videos bookmarked, so I’ll just select 3 at random, or I’ll use the Bit Timer App on my phone to time out my own 5-minute circuits. I did a blog post previously all about Bit Timer and how I use it for at-home workouts, and highly recommend it. If you want to learn more about it you can read this blog post.
I think these workouts are great if you’re just beginning, too, because you can easily modify them to make them easier. Do them without weights. Or instead of doing the exercise for 30 seconds with no rest, do it for 15 seconds with 15 seconds of rest, and keep increasing it until you can follow along. I had to give myself 10 seconds of rest between each move in the Shoulder Workout for a few weeks before I could do the full 5-minutes. Start somewhere and you’ll improve over time!
Anyways, this was a really long post, but I get asked frequently about my workout routine, and it’s always way too long of an answer for an Instagram Message so I’m happy to now have this post to direct people to and I hope you found it helpful, as well. Cheers!
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