Fitness How To: Circuit training – for express fitness at home, at the gym or on travel

By Marina Aagaard, MFT

Circuit training is one of the most popular training methods; a series of exercises (almost) without rest-pauses, continuous activity as in a ‘circuit’.
The exercise series is repeated one or more times and the result is an intense workout, which strengthens, tones and burns fat.
However, there are more to circuit training, than meets the eye body.

Today my new American e-book ‘Circuit Training Programs and Posters’ was published and when searching the internet for some circuit information, I found that the Wikipedia page on ‘circuit training’ was a bit lacking. So here is some additional, interesting information on an old, but still trendy way of working out.

What is circuit training?
Circuit training is a series of exercises, at exercise stations, aimed at improving cardiovascular fitness, strength and strength-endurance. The exercise series is repeated one or more times.
The circuit stations is often set up in a circular or rectangular formation.

Circuit traing diagram Circuit training programs and posters Marina Aagaard

The present-day modern form of Circuit training was developed around 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson, of University of Leeds, England. Their model is based on 9-12 exercise at moderate intensity, 40-60 % of 1RM, in a given timeframe. After eah exercise you procede to the next exercise, station, with no or minimal rest-pause.

This and other circuit training studies has documented the advantages: The main advantage is timeefficient training of muscle-endurance, strength and stamina as well as increased energy consumption; great for fatburning, weight loss and weight maintenance.

The information on the Wikipedia Circuit training page, however, that “Studies at Baylor University and The Cooper Institute show that circuit training is the most time efficient way to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance” is imprecise.
There are more effective means of improving cardiovascular fitness. Because; circuit training is not the same as interval training, which focuses on a single capacity, often cardiom at high intensity followed by active rest-pauses.

Circuit training workouts can focus on 1) cardio, 2) strength or strength-endurance or 3) combined cardio and strength training.
The latter is most common option for fitness.

Circuit traing indoor Circuit training programs and posters Marina Aagaard

What equipment is needed?
Circuit training does not require any equipment and bodyweight circuit training yields sufficient strength gains. You can, however, to great advantage use different pieces of equipment, e.g. weights and suspension equipment.

Circuit training can also be performed in traditional fitness machines, even specialized circuit machines such as Pace, Technogym Easyline or Switching special machines.
E.g. the Loop fitness concept is based on circuit training.

Circuit traing Technogym Easyline Circuit training programs and posters Marina Aagaard

How do you train circuit training?
Circuit training is performed just as traditional strength and cardio training; you execute som specific exercise with proper – normal – technique.

The special characteristics of circuit training are:

1) training within a set time-frame, often but not always at high tempo, or:
2) training with a set number of repetitions
2) only 1 set of each exerciselse/station and then on to the next
3) no or short, < 10-15 sec., rest-pause between the exercises

There are numerous ways of designing circuit training programs for all-round fitness; your goal (and fitness status) determines exercise selection and sequence.

Circuit training is often classified as HIT, high-intensity training, and this is the case in e.g. CrossFit. However, just how intense the circuit is depends a lot on exercise selection, circuit format and your own exertion!

A typical program consists of 6-12 exercises with a balanced mix of upper and lower body exercise and cardio (full body) exercises.
Especially full body exercises with bodyweight or weights bring fast results.

Cardio exercises – full body or total body exercises (examples)

  • Jumping jacks
  • Scissor jumps, legs back/forth
  • Jogging, with high knees, or shuttle runs
  • Tuck jump, jump up, knees to chest
  • Burpees, jump down into a push-up and up Again

Strength exercises, lower body (examples)

  • Step-up (strength and cardio)
  • Squat (many variations, e.g. box squat)
  • Squat jump
  • Lunge / side lunge
  • Lunge jumps

Styrkeøvelser overkrop (eksempler)

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups / chin-ups
  • Throws, e.g. with medicine ball
  • Bench press / chest press
  • Lat pull / rowing

Strength, core (examples)

  • Back extension
  • Ab curl / sit-up, crunches
  • Hanging leg-raises
  • Planks, side planks (isometric exercies are not optimal)
  • Torso rotation, e.g. cables, wood chops etc.

Coordination and agility (eksempler)

  • Rope jumping (motor skill and cardio)
  • Hurdles and ladder runs and dot drills
  • Touch down (side chassé and floor touch)
  • Boxing drills (e.g. with partner/punching bag)
  • Reaction exercise, onto stomach, jump forward, onto, back, jump up

Note: Risk of injury is high with agility, take precautions.

Super simple circuit program (example)

6 exercises/stations of 20 sec. work (2 min.). No pause (just change).
3 rounds of 2 min.: Approx. 6 min. ex. warm-up and cool-down.

1. Squat jump
2. Push ups
3. Lunge jump
4. Back extension with back fly
5. Push-press; squat with shoulderpress with weights
6. Roll-down, ‘eccentric’ ab curl

How often and how long should you train circuit training?
Typical circuit training frequency is 2-3 times per week.
Total circuit duration is normally 15-30 minutes per workou ex. warm-up (group exercise circuit classes are normally longer, 55 min. total, and intensity may be lower).

Circuit training models (range) (examples):

4-20 stations, exercises, per round.
½-2 minutes per exercise (station), often 8-16 rep. with good technique.
No or short rest-pause < 10-15 seconds.
20-40 minutes total for the circuit rounds.
1-4 rounds depending on number of exercises and training intensity.

Where can you train circuit training?
Many fitness clubs offer group circuit training classes. Alternatively you can train on your own or with a partner in the gym.
You can also train at home, at the job, on a hotel – and train either indoors or outdoors.
As long as you have a little space, 2-3 sq.m., for exercising.

Circuit traing outdoor Circuit training programs and posters Marina Aagaard

Who can train circuit training?
Most exercisers could to advantage do some form of circuit training.
At high intensities, though, a healthy and fit physique and motivation is required.
You can do circuit træning as individual workouts or work in pairs or groups depending on the available equipment. Bodyweight? No, problem.

Special precautions should be taken by those, who are overweight, untrained, injured or ill, or elderly.
People with high blood pressure or any kind of cardiovascular disease should in general avoid isometric exercises such as planks a.o.

Circuit training advantages

+ Circuit training ensures variety in any training program
+ Circuit training is diverse and balanced and improves fitness and
+ Circuit training improves strength and cardiovascular fitness, 2-in-1-exercise
+ Circuit training is time efficient; can lead to increased compliance/adherence
+ Circuit training can increase fatburning compared to traditional fitness workouts

Circuit training disadvantages

÷ Circuit training is mostly for general fitness, not sports specific
÷ Circuit training is not for maximal strength og cardio fitness gains
÷ Circuit training gives no time for learning or perfecting technique
÷ Fast tempo during exercises or station changes may cause injuries

Training effect

♥ ♥  ♥ ♥     Cardiovascular; moderate effect; dep. on exercises + technique
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥     Coordination; limited effect; dep. on exercises (e.g. agility)
♥ ♥ ♥  ♥     Strength; moderate-large effect; demands specific exercises
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥     Flexibility; limited, dep. on exercises (normally not large ROM)

Read more (all about circuit training and 100 posters):

Circuit Training Programs and Posters (2014). Aagaard, Marina Aagaard.

Book Circuit training programs and posters Marina Aagaard

3 Excellent Exercises: For Ski Fitness or Slimming and Six-Pack

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On your way out of the door for a skiing holiday and have given up on getting in shape, because you think it is too late … or you are getting annoyed with your January fitness program, because your six-pack is nowhere in sight?
Either way, these three super exercises are for you. Know this: It is never too late and they will work (also for busy travellers).

The three bodyweight exercises are intermediate level – a dose of basic training beforehand is a good idea – and they can be progressed with weights.
Fantastic fitness exercises, that boost performance, fatburning and fun; a 3-in-1 workout:
1) strength and power, 2) stability and 3) mobility (flexibility and agility).

1. Jumps (squat jump)
 on the spot (with or without weight) and travelling in several directions. Take-off from entire foot. Use the arms. Land with soft knees.

2. Multi-lunges. Progress traditional lunges with movements in more directions.
Train with varied amplitude, small and large range of motion. Check, that the space around you is free of obstacles (especially behind you). Keep knees and feet aligned.

3. Planks with movement. Bored with planks? Make a move! Get more out of your workout by adding various movements; e.g. mountainclimber or plank lunge. Stabilize; contract your core, keep the torso and lower back stable. Body in a straight line.

Workout: 1-3 (4) sets of 8-16 repetitions. 1 minute rest-pause between sets.

Enjoy (below for inspiration; skiing holiday snapshots; Sauze d’Oulx/Sestriere, Italy).

Sestriere skiing holiday Marina Aagaard is high photo Henrik Elstrup

Sestriere skiing trip off-piste tracks photo Henrik Elstrup

Winter snow on trees around Sauze d'Oulx and Sestriere Photo Henrik Elstrup

Holiday on Snow Ski lift and mountains Sauze d'Oulx Sestriere Photo Henrik Elstrup

Sestriere skiing tour with light snow photo Henrik Elstrup

Holiday Fitness Circuit Tips: I Know What I Did This Summer

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You should live in the present; not in the past or in the future. However, I do like looking at photos, a.o. holiday photos, that brings out happy memories from days of the past, e.g. of the summer holiday with my family.
Right now autumn, read rain and storm, is starting to show its moody face here in Denmark, so it is nice with some sunshine, if only online.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia photo Marina AagaardPhoto above: Summertime in the National Park Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.
Beautiful landscape. Extraordinary colours. 
A must-see for waterfall-lovers.

A little about the holiday and a lot about circuit fitness (ideas and comments):

When my sister and I were younger, our family of four did not travel or go abroad during holidays. But for the past five years each year we, now a small group of eight, have spent a week at varying holiday destinations in south-eastern Europe; there is plenty of sun, beaches (beautiful nature) and reasonable prices.


My sister, a former-competitive-bodybuilder-turned-golfer-and marathoner, has two young teens, who are very active, so a resort catering for families, with seaside access, pools and all-inclusive sports, is required for summer holidays these years.
This year it was the Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar, Croatia. The resort had two areas; for those with campers and mobile homes … and those without, a.o. us; brand new spacey holiday flats (photo above).


No holiday resort without an entertainment team. This team did some straaaange aerobics with isometric holds (photo above), but also some super aqua aerobics with jumping and dancing. Apart from lots of aerobics and dancing, there were numerous other team-led (or self-organized) land and water sports activities.

Fitness wise? The ‘fitness centre’ was a small room with a very limited array of older fitness apparatus. Just outside, however, you had the option of hiring a personal trainer and working out with suspension equpiment, kettlebells and weights.

I opted out on that and decided to go for fitness in the forrest …

The Fitness Circuit at Zaton Holiday Resort

A brilliant feature of the camp was the Trim Staza (fitness station) track in the forrest. The track was used for walking, power walking, jogging and running of campers of all ages, a really nice experience because of the medium-soft surface cushioning your every step and the shade of the trees; outdoor fitness at its best.

Fitness tip for holidays and travelling
A circuit program of approx. 20-30 min. 2-4 times a week is a great activity: You keep (get?) fit, maintain weight, stay healthy and well in minimal time.

The Zaton resort track was about 1,5-2 km (~ 1 mile) long (yes, forgot my Polar GPS!) and had 18 fitness stations evenly distributed for approximately every 100 metres (ensuring a manageable running-distance). 

Some stations were great, some were not so great, however, at every station you could do your own thing, if you wanted or needed an alternative.

Note: The stations, bright red, were easy to spot and had fairly clear illustrations. Only one had text on technique; at closer inspection it appeared, that all stations had at some stage had text, but it had come of. In most cases, though, you could figure out what to do. 

For fitness buffs, holiday fitness enthusiasts and exercisers in general here is a short rundown of the fitness stations for information, inspiration and motivation.

Outdoor Fitness Circuit Trim Staza Style

Ready, set, go (I did several times, because it was great fun):

Zaton outdoor bane

Station 1: Arm swings. A warm-up exercise. Upper-body limbering movement.

Performed with care, these are good for shoulder mobility. But avoid big ballistic arm swings. Too fast, too big … no good for people with shoulder problems.


Station 2: Bend and extend. Warm-up exercise. Whole body (lower back) preparation.

Performed slowly and with control a good exercise for the back side.
Performed too fast without control: A lumbar back killer, be careful out there.


Station 3: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

Ahhh, what is this? Something for the shoulders; o.k. in small doses for mobility, but do not go overboard in this; also it will not tone the arms and shoulders …


Station 4: Upper body circles. Warm-up exercise. For the shoulders.

My interpretation of station as not 100 % clear from sign. Sidebends continuing in a circular motion and repeating the other way. Upper body (spine) mobilization.

If you have back problems, this is not recommended. Start with controlled small range of motion movements, e.g. easy sidebends with arms at sides.

IMG_6002 Station 5: Mill turns. Warm-up exercise. For the spine and shoulders.

A well-known gymnastics warm-up exercise, but it is very hard on the back. I avoid it myself and do not recommend it.
You lean forward, while carrying the weight of the head with a long lever (spine); then you twist, turn, in this bent-over position: There is considerable torque on your spinal discs/vertebrae.

Alternative: Stand upright and turn side to side with control, easy rotation for mobility.


Station 6: Pull-up (or chin-up shown here). Great back and arm strength exercise.

Grip bar and perform with a wide grip (pull-up) or a narrow grip (chin-up). Both will work the upper back muscle latissimus dorsi and the front of arm muscles biceps brachii. The width of the grip determines how (much) you involve the active muscles.

This is a hard bodyweight exercise, almost impossible for beginners, so a modified exercise could be 1) with partner assistance; have someone help you on the up-phase or 2) jump up/pull yourself as high as possible and lower yourself down or step up on something and step off and lower yourself down.
You could also just hang there for grip strength.


Station 7: Clean and press variation. A complex strength exercise for legs, lower back (back) and arms.

A great functional exercise. Picking up something from the ground and lifting it overhead. Many muscles at work. You bend down, use the legs, and extend legs and back lifting the (odd) object. The object lifted stays close to the body.
However on the sign it is difficult to see exact starting position; it look a bit like a straight leg movement, which requires extra attention and keeping the back straight. Not an exercise for people with lower back problems.


Station 8: Jump over Slide under. Agility (and cardio) exercise.

Sign is not 100 % clear on what the exercise is. However, you can create your own fun and challenging exercises. The beam is on an incline allowing for different options.
At the lower end jumping over from side to side is possible.
Stay on the spot or travel forward with different running, hopping, crawling moves.

IMG_6049 Station 9: Suspended core work. Upper body strength, endurance and mobility.

From the sign it looks as if you are supposed to hang from the hands with feet supported and make circular movements with the hips. Tried it, it seemed strange, even though diverse movements are a good thing … 

Option: inverse (reverse) pull-ups. Upper back, front of arm strength  (incline; easier).

Hang from hands feet support. Body at a slight (harder) og steep (easier) incline. Pull yourself up by bending the arms and pulling them back. Lower with control.


Station 10: Dynamic balance on beam (tree). Balancing exercise.

No illustration at all on this station, so it is up to your imagination. Walk, jog, hop, jump on the two different-sized wooden beams; hold, stick, keep the balance.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 11: Dynamic balance on tree stumps. Balancing exercise.

Illustration is somewhat hard to decipher, so it is up to your imagination. Walk or hop, maybe with a stick/hold, from stump to stump. Keep the balance.
For variety include moves to and from the ground.

Alternative: Step-up (buttock and leg exercise). Stay by one high stump: Step up and down with same leg (e.g. 8-16 times). Change leg and repeat.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 12: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward.
If it feels too hard, you can just sidestep over the beam.
For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

IMG_6150Station 13: Upper body exercise (of your choice).

Station illustration looks like the exercise muscle-up (first pull-up, then straight into the press position shown), however, this is not possible, as the beam is far too thick.
You have to find your own variation. Here (after a clumsy climb) I just do shoulder depression; hold the position with shoulders neutral/lowered.
Note: Station 13 was an ‘unlucky’ station; it was starting to disintegrate.


Station 14: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

A repeat of station 3. Circles with the arms (shoulders) again? This looks like a warm-up or mobility exercise (best performed at moderate pace). No real training effect or relevanse in circuit training like this.
I would perhaps do some circular push-ups instead.

If performing these shoulder circles, circle first one way, then the other way.


Station 15: Push-ups (upper-body strength (endurance) exercise. Super exercise.

Here incline push-up, which is easier, than the regular push-up. Hands on beam, bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

Variation: Decline push-up with more shoulder focus. Feet on beam. Hands on ground. Bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

IMG_6175Station 16: Squat jump (deep), forward and backward. Lower body power.

Illustration shows jump (arms pull back and forth for take-off, land with arms in front).
Variation: Instead of jumping forward and backward, you can just step backward and start again. Or do regular squat jumps up and down on the spot.


Station 17: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

A repeat of station 12? Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward. For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.


Station 18: Pendulum swing. Aerobic exercise.

This station is cardiovascular training. Similar to when you run or walk from station to station. So is it necessary? Well, as running is a sagittal (forward/backward) plane movement, while this a frontal plane movement, it can be fine for variety.


Even if I was not too keen on all the stations in this circuit, I think that outdoor circuit fitness in general – and also this particular set-up – is brilliant.

Circuit fitness is great for variety every once in a while.
Have a go, too.

Express Fitness # 1: Interval Training For Travel or Home

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay fit and healthy without wasting time. Even if you are travelling, on holiday or have a busy life with little time for exercising, you need to take care of your health, the foundation of fitness, wellness and performance. The good news is, that you can have great results with minimal time investment. The number one option is:

  • Interval training (yes, it’s for you, no, it’s not just for athletes)

Interval running for travel fitness or home fitness

Interval running on the Zaton Holiday Resort, Croatia, (soft) running track. Nice .

Interval training
As the saying goes: With interval training you will double your results in half the time!
Or something to that effect …
The definition: A series of repetitions of a work period (higher intensity) followed by a rest period (low intensity).

The (active) rest periods are crucial to succes; you need to recover in order to put just as much energy into the next work period: So no push-ups etc. during rest periods, that is not interval training. 

More and more recent research points to interval training for just 3-4 minutes per time/week as enough for becoming healthy and fit and even loose weight.
In reality, though, this is too little, as you need 1) a warm-up and cool-down and 2) to train at higher intensities, than most will be able to, to get the mentioned results.

Interval training is, however, the number one way to get fit fast for everybody. Interval training is not just very high intensity training. It is interval work at intensities higher than during continuus exercise. This means, that exercising just a little harder than you normally do will work!
Of course, if you are in shape, you should work at high intensity to get even better results.

There are numerous ways to do interval training and it can be tailor-made to meet specific needs. You can have short intervals or long intervals or fartlek, various speeds and intensities. All intervals, though, will improve your cardiovascular fitness and body composition.

If you are new to interval training try these super-easy sample programs:

  • 5 repetitions: 1 : 1 min., e.g. jog for 1 minute, walk for 1 min.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.
  • 10 repetitions: 30 : 30 sec., e.g. jog for 30 sec., walk 30 sec.: 10 min. ex. warm-up.


  • From lamppost/tree to lamppost/tree: Run/jog/powerwalk as fast as you can.
    Then walk, focus on breathing, to the next lamppost/tree. Repeat 5-20 times.

Try it. What do you think?

Travel Fitness and Cruise Ship Fitness: Improve Your Fitness (Program)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On a recent cruise I was at the ship’s fitness centre every day, because I needed to practice some training programs for workshops.
Day in and day out I witnessed a classical fitness scenario, lots of movement with little effect, and decided to do a tiny travel fitness tutorial, as it is possible to double your workout investment in half the time.

At sea fitness centre

The cruise ship fitness centre had lots of machines, some free weights and ample space for floorwork, but also the typical ‘fitness scene’ throughout the week:
Women at the cardio machines (not for hours, though, due to a 20 minute time limit) and on the floor doing 100’s of 80’s callanetics exercises, while the men where at the fitness machines working out.

Optimal travel fitness: It is time to move on. You want to trim and tone?
You must crank up exercise quality. You will get twice the effect in half the time!
This can be done with bodyweight exercises or with machine exercises.
A travel fitness program can be done in a very short time, 10-30 minutes:

3-10 minute warm-up (or extended cardio).
5-7 exercises for the major muscles
8-12 repetitions of each exercise.
3-10 minute cool-down/stretching for the major muscles.

Maximize workout time. Go from exercise to exercise without pauses (circuit training).
If you want more, you just start over from the first exercise, e.g. 2-4 rounds.

Machine exercises are simple, but effective for novices and beginners. So, if you are not used to doing fitness, and would like to try to get fit (or keep fit), while at a hotel or a cruise ship, the fitness machines provide an easy method of working out. You can do it.
Do that instead of hanging onto the same old mat exercises; don’t waste your time.

Important note: Some trainers will tell you not to use machines, as they are not really functional, and instead recommend free weight exercises.
However, if you are not ready or up to it, it is a lot better to use machines, than 1) not exercise at all or 2) do free weight exercises incorrectly.
If you are used to work out or have a trainer to assist you, it is another matter.

Free weight and bodyweight exercises are multi-dimensional and functional, e.g. relates to everyday and sports activities.
However, they do require 1) some knowledge of movement to be safe and 2) full body movements, full range of motion and in some instances speed to be really effective.
Below some exercises to get you started with bodyweight exercises; they trim, tone and burn fat all at the same time:

Happy holiday (or at home) fitness!

Rope Jumping Fitness: A Guide to Skipping Success

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Have you rope jumped lately? If not, it’s time to give it a go (again) a.s.a.p.
You will be amazed. It’s fast, it’s fun and for everyone (get FREE Guide below).
Jumping rope is a super cardio exercise modality suitable for exercisers of all fitness levels, from novices to skilled athletes. It requires only you and a jump rope, which is incredibly inexpensive compared to other equipment:

Rope jumping
Jump Rope Fitness improves:

  • Fatburning (fat loss and weight maintenance)
  • Body composition
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Stamina (endurance)
  • Coordination (motor skill)
  • Agility (speed work)
  • Mobility

It is simple! Even it looks impressive and challenging, it is easy to learn the basic moves, even if some say it is not (…), and you will reap the benefits immediately.

It is fun! Rope jumping is more than jogging, hopping and jumping, there are lots of variations! And you can do it with family and friends.

It is fast! 10-15 min. of rope jumping burns as many calories as 30 min. of jogging!

It is inexpensive! Jump ropes cost next to nothing compared to other equipment.

It is convenient! All day, inside, outside, at home, the gym; all you need is a little space.

It is compact! Jump ropes can easily be carried around where ever you go (travel).

It is effective! Improves endurance, coordination, agility and body composition.

If you need a little help to get started, or move on, this is for you … with all the information you need and links to rope jumping, rope skipping, demo videos (click on link to download):

ROPE JUMPING FITNESS The Complete Guide To Jump Rope Fitness

Rope skipping fitness

Running for True Beginners? Run This Way!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

The sun is out! You want to get into shape? You want to loose weight?
You want to have more energy? You want to be healthier? You want to run!
You can find a multitude of running programs for beginners on the internet, so which one to choose?
Choose this one, if you are a beginner and want 1) to have a motivating program, 2) to follow a goal-oriented program for beginners and 3) to run safely with minimal risk of overuse injuries.

It is time to get started:

Find your motivation
What drives you? Some people are motivated by:

  • running alone, others by running with friends.
  • running to meditate and relax, others by working out and burning fat.
  • running to music, others by silence or nature sounds.
  • running with a heart rate monitor, others by listening to the body.

Find out, what motivates you and plan accordingly.

Choose the right strategy
Avoid the usual running mistakes, which are very common:
Too ambitious and much too much initially; 1) running without a warm-up, 2) running too fast and 3) running too far …
Choose to:

  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes by walking faster and faster, then jog and then run.
  • Run a very moderate distance initially, eg. 5 x 300 ft … increase gradually over time.
  • Cool down by walking for the last 5-10 minutes of your ‘run’.
  • Stretch lightly; hips, thighs, hamstrings, calves, 15-30 sec. to relax and loosen up.

Start smart
A moderate (conservative estimate) tempo initially and a gradual progression is essential for running success. It takes time to get into running shape: Muscles need 1-2 months, the tendons, which attach the muscles to the bones, need 3-6 months, and the bones and joints need 6-12 months to become more resilient to the impact forces of running.
Exactly how long depends on your ‘body age‘ – health, body weight and fitness level – and training age – how long you have been exercising regularly.
Start gradually to avoid overuse injuries in your feet, legs and hips.

Plan your runs
Make a plan, take notes in your calender; how many days do you run, how long/far do you run and how hard do you run? Check your training volume to avoid overtraining … and undertraining.
Beginners benefit from a regular running program to make running a fun and healthy habit.
Tip 1: Have your running shoes and clothes ready, so you are all set to run.
Tip 2: Run with a dog, friend or family member to increase motivation and keep on track.

Løb for begyndere BegynderløbRunning is freedom, fresh air and fun. Photo: Photographer John Nyberg.

Running equipment
Hardly any equipment or gear is required for running. However, the running experience is a lot nicer, if your clothes fit and are ‘dry fit’ (avoid cotton), so they don’t get cold and clammy, which can induce hypothermia (you feel cold).

  • Running shoes, for your feet and running style. They are important: Have your running technique checked on a threadmill by a sports physiotherapist or a running coach, so you get the right shoes for you. You can also do ‘barefoot running’, run in bare feet (or FiveFingers), with extra attention and extra gradual progression.
  • Sweat-transporting running pants, tight fit without (annoying) seams.
  • Sweat-transporting running shirt.
  • Windbreaker jackets (and pants).
  • Sweat-transporting underwear.
  • Sweat transporting socks without seams.


  • Sports-bra or comfort top (eg. PureLime award-winning sports-bras)
  • Sports panties, which stays in place.

Running technique and tips
Humans are designed for walking and running, so you don’t need special training to run. However, as many people are very inactive during the everyday and start running from scratch, check and focus on this:

  • Breathe deeply; inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth or nose.
  • Run on softer surfaces initially; grass, sand or soil.
  • Listen to your body; your breath, heart rate and muscles. Running should feel good and a little hard (your body loves to exercise); nothing should hurt or feel painful.
  • Run in a natural way: Start walking and then ’fall’ slightly forward, so you start to run and land with your body weight evenly distributed across the foot, instead of landing hard on the heel. Run with a full natural stride length and cadence, that fits you.
  • Run with a natural arm swing forward backward, not diagonally in front of the torso.
  • Run with a proper running posture; spine neutral and head up, relaxed neck and shoulders. Full body lean from ankle to neck, do not bend at the waist.
  • Run straight forward, avoid bouncing; hopping up and down.

Running program for new runners
This is a running program designed especially for beginning runners:

Realistic and goal-oriented program: The goal is to run 2 miles (or less) in 12 weeks. Far too many beginning running programs include too much running too soon (eg. 0-3 miles in 10 weeks), which often leads to overuse injuries.
Gradual progression: The program progression respects not only the heart and lungs, but also muscles, tendons, bones and joints, preparing them for increased load in time.
Goal-oriented with variation: The program is based on advanced interval training principles and designed  for optimal results, running with fun, with minimal risk of injuries.

Try it out! Here (at the bottom) is a program for running 3 times a week for 12 weeks.

  • Every run warm-up by walking for 5 minutes with a gradual increase in tempo.
  • Then run for some seconds/minutes, then walk for some minutes.
  • Repeat this run-walk sequence a number of times, a number of series.

Is it too easy? Then run a little faster in the same timeframe.
Is it too hard? Then repeat the same program, the next day or the next week.
Your body and your running should feel well.

The program suggests monday, wednesday and saturday, but you may choose other days. However, it is recommended to have a day of rest between running days, so the body is able to recover before running again.

Listen to your body: Do you feel energetic and ready for the runs of next week. If not, continue another week with the same program without increasing time and intensity.

If you experience pain or soreness, find out what is causing it. Maybe have a break from running, do something else, or repeat the same interval run or runs from an earlier week program and proceed with caution.

Note.: Have you been injured or ill? Are you overweight (Running-for-weight-loss)?
Are you very inactive during the everyday? Then you should start even more gradually with a walking program or a variation of this program (make it easier and run/walk the same intervals for more days, eg. same intervals monday, wednesday and saturday, before moving on).

Running for beginners  From 0 to ~ 2 miles in 12 weeks