What better way to commemorate a holiday – Hallmark or National – than to use a fitness tip that will help to break a sweat while exercising?  Don’t waste your time going to a gym or lifting indoors – and you don’t always need a personal trainer to get a great workout – take your traditional and non-traditional equipment and head outside to work out under the clouds, or even the stars.

For circuit training on July 4th  I brought out 2 pairs of dumbbells, a 50-pound bag of water softener salt, a kettlebell and my trusty sledgehammer. The bag of salt was just lying around my basement minding its own business when I decided to include it in my Independence Day shenanigans; I’m always looking for new implements to include into routines.  The bag of salt is perfect for lifting, pressing, swinging and press-throwing.

For this workout, I decided to enlist the aid of my pickup truck – and used the bag of salt – for something called the “platform lift.”  The platform lift is done by picking up an object from the ground and placing it on an object that’s at least 3 feet off of the ground, taking it off the object and placing it back on the ground.  And repeat.  In this case, the bag of salt served as the object, and the open lift gate of my pickup truck was the platform. In this case, the platform lift is more for muscular endurance, as the 50-pound bag of salt is more of a low-weight/mid-to-higher-rep implement.

Here’s how I set up the circuit training routine; 2-hand kettlebell swings for 25 reps, dumbbell military press for 12 reps (the lighter of the two pairs of dbs), 30 sledgehammer swings, dumbbell front squats for 12 reps (the heavier pair of dbs) and 20 platform lifts. When setting up a circuit training routine, alternate endurance-based movements with strength movements and alternate upper and lower-body movements as well.  Also, place a “finisher” movement at the end of the circuit.  The platform lift is a great example of a “finisher,” a movement that is so tough that it will “finish” you and the workout.  In the case of my circuit, the platform lift is done at an easier level than if you would do one, massive set to end a workout.

Traditionally, a finisher at the end of a workout leaves you with nothing left in your fuel tank. Time yourself to see how long it takes to get through the circuit one time so you can determine your rest period between circuits.  Usually I never rest any longer than it takes me to complete the circuit – or a 1:1 work/rest ratio – and the first time through the circuit, I usually rest for half the time.  Minimize the rest between exercises to the time it takes to take a breath or two while moving from one station to the next. If it takes 5 minutes to get through this circuit, my first rest period is 2 and a-half minutes and then 5 minutes between subsequent circuits.

Three times thorough these circuits is quite a challenge, and will be about as much work as anyone can do in 30 minutes. And my musical accompaniment for this workout was something a little off the board, the latest release from a relaxing brand of club music.  If you aren’t familiar with the artist or this style of music, I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of old-school disco and dance music.   Hey, variety is the spice of life for both exercising and music!


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