10 Indoor Circuit Exercises to Crosstrain After Dark

You’ve arrived home from work but have yet to work out. Outside, the pitch-black darkness and freezing temps call you forth; it is time to go on a run or drive to the gym. Inside your home, however, you are now comfortable and warm. The thoughts of venturing off into the dark frigid air to get your endorphin rush are not even remotely appealing (though if you change your mind, definitely read my last month’s post “8 Safety Tips for Running After Dark”). No matter! You can easily complete a workout from the comfort of your own home with a little creativity and very few props: glider discs (or a homemade substitute), a medicine ball, a light set of hand weights, or nothing at all. Read on for 10 indoor circuit exercises to do after dark.

Try combining the exercises below into a circuit by:

  • Doing all exercises in order 2-3 times
  • Completing just the odd or even numbered exercises today; save the other half for tomorrow.
  • Complete all odd numbered exercises, then all even numbered exercises, THEN repeat again.
  • For a leg and ab workout, complete Exercises 1-4, 6-7.
  • For an arm and ab workout, complete Exercises 3-10.
  • Or try any combination of exercises that you like!

1.  Glider Disc Lunges

Equipment needed: Ideally, glider discs which come in varieties for various floor types, from hardwood to carpet. If you don’t have gliders, substitute a worn-out dish cloth or small rag or t-shirt that will slide easily on the floor. If using your own homemade discs, you also need to find a smooth floor.

Stand with your hands on your hips and one foot on a glider. Smoothly extend your glider behind you to come into a lunge, then bring the glider-foot back in to come back to start. Repeat 15-20 times, then switch sides. Be sure to keep your non-glider foot firmly planted on the ground.

2.  Glider Single Leg Squats

You can also try single-leg squats using the glider; this is a great variation on this movement because it works the same muscles while providing a little extra support to your legs and ensuring you maintain good form. Single-leg squats are notoriously difficult; gliders make them easier to perform. Again, stand with one foot on a glider. Your non-glider leg is the one actually doing the squat! Send your glider foot directly out to the side, while you keep weight in your standing foot and sink your bum back into a squat. Use your arms to help drive the motion of your legs. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch sides.

3.  Medicine Ball Squat and Press.

Equipment needed: medicine ball.

Stand just wider than hip-width. Hold the ball close to your chest. As you come into a squat, keeping weight in your heels, extend your arms to press the med ball away from you. Come back up to standing, and again bring the ball back into your body. Repeat 10-15 times.

4.  Medicine Ball Wood Chop.

Again, stand wider than hip-width. Moving smoothly, bring the ball towards the outside of your right foot, then drive it up in the air to the left. (Think of making a motion as if you were chopping wood.) Continue this motion, twisting down to the right and up to the left for 10-15 rounds, then switch sides.

5.  Medicine Ball Tricep Extension.

From standing, bring the medicine ball over your head. Pivot from your elbows and exhale to let the med ball drop behind your head (and don’t bump yourself in the head!). Inhale to bring the ball back up.

6.  Medicine Ball Ab Twist.

Sit on the floor with your knees bent so feet are just a few inches off the floor. Holding your med ball, twist smoothly side to side, bringing the ball from the left to the right and back again. Note that you don’t need to actually tap the floor with the ball; you might find you engage your core more by hovering the ball just above the floor as you move. Repeat 20-30 rounds.

7.  Plank.

Support yourself on either your palms or your forearms. Be sure your hips are in line with the rest of your body. For an added challenge, try picking up one leg then the other behind you. This doesn’t need to be a big movement; just aim for a couple inches or so. Stay here 30-60 seconds.


8.  Triangle Pushups.

From a normal push-up position, connect the ends of your thumbs and first fingers to form a triangle shape. Only do as many as you can with maintaining great form and feel free to do these from your knees if you need to! Aim for 15 or :30 worth of push-ups, whichever comes first.


9.  Front, Side, and Back Dumbbell Raises.

Equipment needed: light set of hand weights in the 5-10lb. range.

From standing, lift your weights straight in front of you until they hit shoulder height, then smoothly lower. Repeat 10-15 times. Then lift your weights straight to their respective sides, then lower. Repeat 10-15 times. Now, lift your weights straight back—here you will likely only raise the weights to about a 45 degree angle. Again lower, then repeat 10-15 times.

10.  Bent-Over Dumbbell Row.

Stand with knees bent and upper body slightly forward. Be sure to keep your back flat, rather than rounded or arched. Let arms drop to full extension with weights, then bend elbows to bring weights to your chest. Throughout the movement, keep elbows pointing behind you, rather than letting them go to the sides. Repeat 10-15 rounds.

No need to skip a workout just because it's dark, or you're too tired to drive to the gym; try just five minutes of your own indoor circuit workout and feel your energy levels go on an upswing.