Diabetes Forecast

6 Moves for a Total Body Workout

Energize a tired exercise routine with high-intensity training

By Kirsten C. Ward, MS, RCEP, CDE , ,

Andrey Popov/Getty Images

A key element of an effective exercise program is variety: It can help hold your interest and make sure your muscles aren’t bored. One way to accomplish this is with circuit and interval training. Many people use these terms interchangeably but they are distinct.

Circuit training is a variety of strength exercises performed at high intensities in rotation with minimal rest, often using exercise equipment to target specific body parts. 

Interval training alternates short, high-intensity bouts of exercise (or intervals) with lower-intensity exercise or rest periods. Jog-walk intervals, for instance, may include jogging for 60 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds for two to 10 cycles. Interval training is not designed only for aerobic or cardiovascular exercise; it can also be done with strength training.

Recently, the buzzword in the fitness industry has been high-intensity training (HIT). It involves performing high-quality, intense strength-training exercises to the point of momentary muscle fatigue. Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus, introduced high-intensity training in the 1970s.

You may be thinking, “I can’t exercise at a high intensity!” But intensity is relative to your exertion level and abilities. The key is to perform each exercise with correct form and technique—faster is not better!—for a full cycle of moves. Once you work up to it, repeat each exercise until you can’t perform another repetition while maintaining good form.

MYTH: All exercises are good for high-intensity training.

Fact: HIT works best with total-body exercises that also challenge your cardiovascular system and core stability muscles. Squats, lunges, and plank poses are suitable for HIT; bicep curls are not.

MYTH: High-intensity training is all you need.

Fact: In reality, you still need to do aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging for 30 to 60 minutes nearly every day.

MYTH: Doing more is better.

Fact: During interval training, work out at between 80 and 95 percent of your maximum heart rate and spend minimal time resting. At this intensity, most people will not be able to exercise for more than 20 to 30 minutes. If you are a beginner, start slowly and build up intensity. Do no more than 20 minutes of high-intensity training, and space HIT workouts at least 48 hours apart.

This HIT workout will challenge your strength and endurance. You’ll notice you’re more winded than with traditional strength training. That’s because the workout also challenges your cardiovascular fitness. Be patient and be positive. Start slowly and remember: This new challenge is good for you and your body. Perform these exercises in order, without stopping between moves if possible.

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Dress for Success

What to wear for winter workouts

Winter weather is approaching, but you don’t have to be stuck inside. The cooler temperatures can be invigorating, and you may even be able to exercise at higher intensities, which will help you burn more calories.
The first guideline for cold-weather exercise attire is to wear layers (see illustration). This will let you remove clothing as temperatures change or as your body warms up. (Jacket illustration by David Preiss.)

Kirsten C. Ward, MS, RCEP, CDE, is an exercise physiologist, certified diabetes educator, and certified health coach. She has traveled nationally and internationally, presenting on diabetes and physical activity, and enjoys practicing what she preaches by running, hiking, and doing yoga. Find her at healthcoachboston.com.

 Download a printable guide featuring the following exercises.


Perform these moves in order, without a break if possible. Take a small rest at the end of exercise six and then repeat the entire circuit for one to three complete cycles.

Squat Kick: Strengthens thighs, buttocks, calves, and abdomen
A Start in a standing position, holding a light, weighted ball in front of you at chest height. B Squat, keeping your weight over your heels. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed. Engage your abdominal muscles. C Stand up and kick one leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle while pushing your arms forward. Return to the squat position and repeat with the other leg.
Repetitions: 5–10
Illustration by David Preiss

Walkouts: Strengthens arms, chest, and core
A Start in a standing position. Smoothly roll from the top of your head
down until you touch the ground with your hands. B Walk your hands out
into a plank position, keeping arms straight and heels lifted so your body weight is supported by your hands and toes. Hold the position for five seconds. Walk your hands back to your feet and roll up to a standing position.
Repetitions: 10
Illustration by David Preiss

Squat With Side Steps: Strengthens back of thighs, buttocks, and core
A Start in a squat position with your hands clasped in front of your chest. B Stay in a low squat and take five to 10 steps to the left. Repeat, stepping to the right.
Repetitions: 2–3
Illustration by David Preiss

Plank Pose With Lifted Leg: Strengthens hips, buttocks, thighs, and abdomen
A Start in a plank position, supporting your body weight on your forearms and toes. Engage or tighten your abdominals by tucking your buttocks down and under. B Raise your right leg directly behind you and hold for five seconds. Bring the right knee toward your right shoulder and ribs; do not round your shoulders or your back. Return to plank position. Repeat with your left leg.
Repetitions: 5–10
Illustration by David Preiss

Back Lunge and Stand: Strengthens front and back of thighs, buttocks, and core balance
A Start in a standing position. B With your left leg, step back into a lunge position. Keep your front knee over your ankle. Return to standing and repeat with the right leg. C For a more challenging exercise, as you return to a standing position, bring the leg you lunged with in front of your body, keeping your thigh at waist height and parallel to the ground.
Repetitions: 10
Illustration by David Preiss

Sitting Twists: Strengthens abdominals and core muscles
A Sit on the ground or on a bench and lean back at a 30- to 45-degree angle, keeping your back straight. Clasp your hands in front of you and engage your abdominals. B Smoothly move your hands from one side of your hips to the other. Look straight ahead; do not turn your head to follow your hands. Keep your hips centered; do not round your back.
Repetitions: 10
Illustration by David Preiss



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