This regimen can be easily modified and customized but as is should get you moving in the right direction. Be sure to start with at least a five-minute aerobic warm-up before your routine.
Olympian: Three times through the circuit, fitting in a run or some fartlek training (i.e., high-intensity speed work) between stations, 60 to 75 minutes total. Three to four times a week on nonconsecutive days.
Weekend Warrior: Two times through the circuit, jogging or running between stations, 45 to 60 minutes total. Three times a week on nonconsecutive days. Your goal: to become an Olympian.
Penitent Sloth: Perform one set of eight to 15 repetitions of each exercise, walking or jogging between stations over a 1.5- to 2-mile course in 30 to 45 minutes total. Schedule two to three workouts a week on nonconsecutive days. Objective: achieve Weekend Warrior status.
With the balls of your feet on a low balance beam (or curb), raise yourself up onto your toes, keeping your legs straight. Sloths can do both legs at once, Weekend Warriors one leg at a time. Olympians can combine this with one-leg squats, and push up forcefully enough so your feet actually leave the ground—"an advanced plyometric move," says Schmitz. This exercise strengthens the calf and ankle and stretches the Achilles tendon across its full range.
Most courses have a low horizontal bar at the push-up station, so you can place your hands on that rather than on the ground for a slight modification of this classic. With hands shoulder-width apart, touch your chest to the bar, and then straighten your arms back out, without locking your elbows. For variety, incorporate sets with your hands spread widely apart (helps isolate the pecs), or with your hands together (isolates the triceps). Dedicated remote-control users can start with a modified approach. "Someone could do push-ups standing against a tree, against a building, or against a wall, if they're beginning," Schmitz says.
Unless you've been working the rock rings at your indoor climbing gym all winter, these can be a challenge. Fear not; there are solutions. Grip the lowest pull-up bar (most courses have at least two of different heights) with your palms facing away from you. Step forward with both feet, and then pull yourself toward the bar while your feet remain on the ground. In time, you can graduate to the standard version, pulling up until your chin reaches the level of the bar and your feet hang below you. Lower slowly after each rep to avoid muscle strain. Alternate versions: Step both feet forward, and then pull yourself completely off the ground with your feet in front of you; or do conventional chin-ups with your palms toward you, working shoulders and lats.
While standing, rest one foot behind you on a bench or bar a little lower than hip height, lowering and raising yourself on the other leg. For proper motion, keep knee aligned over ankle as you lower. "This incorporates more balance than a lunge and works on ankle stability," Schmitz says, "and it's a lot harder than a lunge."
"For someone to do a dip with their body weight, that's pretty tough," Schmitz says. "That's a good one for more advanced athletes." Dips target your lower pectorals, triceps, and shoulders—they are an ideal upper-body strengthener. With your torso straight and perpendicular to the ground, hold yourself up with your hands on two parallel bars. Lower yourself by bending your arms until they reach a right angle, and then lift yourself back up by straightening them. For full benefit, avoid locking your elbows.
Another classic. Lie on the abdominals bench, either flat or incline, with knees bent and feet and lower back flat. With hands behind your head, and keeping your chin up (imagine holding an orange there), bring your head halfway up toward your knees. Focus on using your abdominal muscles, not your arms.
These develop back strength and stability. At the abdominals station, either a horizontal bench or a decline bench, lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat and about shoulder-width apart. Now lift your hips up high forming a straight line through your shoulders, hips, and knees. Lower your hips and repeat. Intermediate variation: Do the same movement but with your feet together. Advanced variation: One side at a time, straighten one leg while the other stays bent. "Your spine wants to turn," Schmitz says, "but you need to work your deep rotator spine muscles to keep your hips level."