The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Creative Cardio Circuit Strategies for Youth - Part 1

Posted in
Fit Tips

Monday, Jun 05, 2017


In April, we introduced you to circuit training strategies designed to improve FitnessGram® scores. The circuit training session should alternate one minute of cardio exercise with 1 minute of strength exercise. As mentioned previously, the strength training routine should target all major muscle groups. However, creating fun and innovative ways to include cardio can be a challenge. Incorporate fit tip cardio strategies to make your next circuit training workout a fun activity for kids of all ages. 

Beginner Soccer Jacks:

This cardio activity consists of two movements/phases, and can be quite helpful for the development of coordination. Begin this exercise by utilizing the original jumping jack movement. Once the students establish a rhythm, incorporate the first phase of the beginner soccer jacks.

Phase 1: Instruct the students to take one hand and touch the inner sole of the opposite foot to the front of the body while maintaining the jumping jack movement. Repeat this pattern 10-15 times. Upon completion, switch to the opposite arm/foot and perform and additional 10-15 repetitions.

Phase 2: The second portion of the beginner jumping jack involves the hand tapping the opposite heel to the back of the body while maintaining the jumping jack movement. This pattern should be repeated 10-15 times. As in phase 1, perform the same movement with the opposite hand.    

Soccer Jacks

To further drive coordination strategies, the beginner soccer jack can be amplified into the full soccer jack movement. This exercise involves two regular jumping jacks followed by two foot touches to the front (right hand taps left foot and left hand taps right foot)  and two heel touches to the back of the body (right hand taps left heel and left hand taps right heel).

Lateral Step and Touch/Jump

The focus of this cardio activity is two-fold: 1) the often underutilized lateral movement and 2) reaction time. Begin with three long, lateral shuffles to the right and touch the ground. Then, take 3 long, lateral shuffles to the left and touch the ground again. Perform this movement back and forth a few times. Once the students are adapted to the touch, switch into a high jump at the end of the third shuffle. Incorporate the high jumps for a few repetitions. To amplify this exercise, call out “touch” or “jump” during the shuffle to challenge the reaction time of your students.

* Safety tip for all cardio activities: Encourage students to maintain an upright posture throughout the activity and always utilize a soft landing during jumping movements.

The circuit training cardio strategies presented above can be effectively utilized for students and athletes alike.  The teacher/coach can modify or amplify the activity based on the students’ current fitness level. If a modification is necessary, tell the students to avoid jumping and instead focus on stepping side to side. On the other end of the spectrum, if the teacher desires to amplify the exercise jump height and speed can be increased.