Doing this intense circuit on the reg can—yep!—result in better shut-eye.

By Alyssa Sparacino
September 06, 2019

It might seem surprising that a heart-pounding workout can help you sleep, but it’s true.

“We know exercise increases deep sleep and reduces anxiety,” says Kelly G. Baron, Ph.D., the director of behavioral sleep medicine at the University of Utah. Intense exercise temporarily raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, but doing it regularly has been shown to decrease cortisol and increase destressing hormones (like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) postworkout—all of which will help put your body in a ready-to-rest state. (Here's more on the sleep-exercise connection.)

What’s optimal? “Incorporating both aerobic and resistance training—the more exercise the better,” Baron says: Aiming for 20 to 30 minutes most days is an effective starting dose. (Timing matters too. Read up on the benefits of working out in the morning.)

The key takeaway is: The more consistent you are with exercise, the better you’ll sleep. To help keep it simple, we tapped trainer Megan Roup, the creator of the Sculpt Society workout, to lead an all-in-one circuit on Shape Studio. “Body-weight exercise for cardio or strength is beneficial no matter what your level,” Roup says. “For a fun twist, I incorporate cardio dance, and to increase the firming, I use gliding moves.”

Roup prefers sliding disks (hers work on hardwood or carpet; Buy It, $25, meganroup.com), but you can use a towel or a sock on any smooth floor (or grab some off Amazon). “The instability of sliding requires you to fire up some smaller muscles and makes exercises like a curtsy squat just a little harder.” Otherwise, a set of two- to three-pound weights is all you need to do this high-energy groove that tones multiple muscle groups at once.

Ready to sweat, then snooze well? Get started with this workout.

Megan Roup's Circuit Workout for Better Sleep

How it works: Rest between exercise and between circuits: no breaks between exercises, but 30 seconds between each round. Repeat 3 times.

You'll need: Sliders or a towel, 2-3lb dumbbells

Grapevine with Jumping Jacks

A. Start standing with feet together, making sure there's plenty of room to more to the right.

B. Step to the right with the right foot, then step behind the right foot with the left foot. Step out with the right foot again, then step the left foot next to the right to stand with feet together.

C. Do two jumping jacks in place. That's 1 rep.

Do 10 reps, alternating directions.

Tip: "The trick with a grapevine is that the second step is behind," says Roup. "I love this old school move; allow yourself to have fun with it as your heart rate increases."

High Knees to Jumping Jacks

A. Start holding a dumbbell in each hand by sides.

B. Hop to kick up the right leg into a high knee while simultaneously curling the dumbbell up to shoulder-height and punching it down towards the right knee.

C. Repeat on the opposite side, kicking up the left knee and punching down with the right hand.

D. Continue hopping, doing 4 high knees total.

E. Hop feet together, then do 4 jumping jacks, rowing dumbbells up to shoulder height with elbows out instead of reaching arms overhead. That's 1 rep.

Do 10 reps.

Tip: "Keep your chest up as you drive your knees high," says Roup. "Light weights will increase the intensity, but modify to do the moves without them if needed."

Squat Jump with Weights

A. Start standing with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand by sides.

B. Lower into a squat while curling the dumbbells up to the center of the chest.

C. Stand and explode to jump off the floor, swinging arms down and back.

D. Land softly and immediately begin the next rep.

Do 10 reps.

Tip: "Remember to keep your weight in your heels and back straight in your squat; power through your legs as you jump up," says Roup.

Curtsy Squat with Sliders and Weights

A. Start standing with feet together, dumbbells in hands by sides, and a slider under the right foot.

B. Slowly slide the right foot back and behind the left foot to lower into a curtsy squat, while simultaneously curling the dumbbells up to the center of the chest.

C. Press into left foot to slowly stand, lowering dumbbells to sides and returning right foot next to left.

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Tip: "As you curtsy, make sure you square off your hips to the front and keep your weight evenly distributed," says Roup.

Reverse Lunge with Sliders and Weights

A. Start standing with feet together, dumbbells in hands by sides, and a slider under the right foot.

B. Slowly slide the right foot back and lower into a lunge until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles, while simultaneously curling the dumbbells up to the center of the chest.

C. Press into left foot to slowly stand, lowering dumbbells to sides and returning right foot next to left.

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Tip: "Make sure to bend your back knee and lower it to the ground. Your weight should stay in your supporting heel and you should be able to wiggle the toes on that foot," says Roup.

Cross Mountain Climbers with Sliders

A. Start in a high plank position with hands on dumbbells and sliders under both feet, which are wider than hip-width apart.

B. Slide the right knee in toward the left elbow, keeping hips low and core engaged.

C. Repeat on the opposite side. That's 1 rep.

Do 10 reps.

Tip: "This oblique-focused exercise will also bring your heart rate up," says Roup. "Focus on driving your knee as far as you can into the opposite shoulder. Lift out of your shoulders and draw your navel to spine."

Knee Curl Lift

A. Start on hands and knees, then lower onto the right elbow so forearm points toward left hand. (Optional: Place a dumbbell in the bend of the left knee.) Curl the left heel towards the left glute slightly, so just the left knee is on the ground.

B. Keeping core engaged and hips square, lift the left leg until thigh is parallel with torso.

C. Slowly lower the left knee back to tap the ground. That's 1 rep.

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Tip: "This move is great for your hamstring and glutes," says Roup. "As you lift your leg, focus on engaging your glute and drawing your navel to spine."

Hydrant with Extension

A. Start on hands and knees. (Optional: Hold a dumbbell in the left hand.) Extend the left arm forward, bicep by ear, and the left leg back, knee pointing to the side.

B. Keeping neck long and hips square, engage left oblique to draw the left elbow and left knee together at hip height.

C. Extend arm and leg to return to start. That's 1 rep. (To modify: Place the left hand on the floor and just do the move with the leg extension.)

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Tip: "Keep your knee high as you bring it into your shoulder, engaging your obliques," says Roup. "As you extend your leg back squeeze your glute."

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