Hup Squad’s Favorite At-Home Conditioning Drills

Hey circusers!

We know that many of you are not able to circus in your normal way right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get your circus on! Check out these at-home conditioning drills from our Hup Squad!

Submitted by Lacy:

My favorite conditioning drill is to a song called “Flower” by Moby. You can do this drill many different ways and the instructions are simple, just listen to the music and every time the lyrics say ”green sally up” you go up and when it says “green sally down” you go down, in between you hold whatever position was last said. You can do this with squats, high & low planks, push-ups, V-ups, and whatever else you can think of. For example if you are doing high low planks you would start in a high plank position with straight arms, then when you hear “green sally down” you would transfer to a plank on your elbows and repeat until the song ends. This is a quick workout because the song only lasts about three and a half minutes. Despite this it is very effective.

Submitted by Tessa:

My favorite at home circus conditioning is 30 v ups, followed by a 30 second hollow body hold, 30 second tuck ins from the hollow body and repeat.

I also love plank on elbows to plank on arms, 5 push-ups and repeat three times.

Submitted by Julaine:

My favorite exercises for at home are…

–  Handstand holds (free standing and belly toward the wall)

– “Suicides” or “Relays” (pick four different relay points and a starting point across a runnable stretch of ground. Start at the starting point, run and touch the first relay point, run back to the starting point and touch it, now, go to the second starting point, run back, run to next point, run back, run to final point, run back… that equals 1 rep)

– Holding hollow hold while solving Rubik’s cube, knitting, or playing catch.

-Wide pull-ups, wide chin-ups, regular pull-up, regular chin-up.

– Pistol Squats (Squats on 1 leg, you can use a wall or a “candlestick roll” to build up to it)

-Stair runs

-Arch holds (feet together and arms by your head. Hold as high as you can.

-“Plank hold (or any hold) Music Roulette” (Go to a playlist that has a bunch of pumped up jams and just swipe, then press! Are you holding for 2:31? 4:09? Maybe 3:47? You won’t know until you start going!)

Submitted by Maia:

Here are two of my favorite conditioning drills! All you need for these is a yoga mat or a floor that you feel comfortable lying down on.


-Start lying on your back in a hollow-body position (legs together, arms by your sides. Abs engaged with legs and arms hovering just off the floor)

-Tuck-up – come to a balanced sitting position with your knees bent and arms parallel to your shins.

-Return to your hollow-body.

-V-up – come back up to your balanced sitting position with legs extended straight, reaching for your toes.

-Return to hollow-body.

-Side Tuck-up – Just like your first tuck-up, except both arms reach across your body to the left while your knees crunch in to the right.

-Return to hollow-body.

-Other Side Tuck-up – Repeat your side tuck-up, but send your arms to the right and your knees to the left.

-Return to hollow-body and repeat the whole sequence!

I like to shout “Tuck! V! Side! Side!” while I do this to help keep the timing of the exercise. If you like to listen to music while conditioning, this exercise goes along well with most songs because it has four parts, so your favorite song can also help you keep a consistent tempo. You can do as many reps of this exercise as you choose – I like to keep going as long as I can while maintaining my form. Then I will “swim” in a hollow-body (gently kicking my legs and moving my arms up and down while staying engaged on my back) for another minute or so.

This is a very simple ab workout, but I find it to be an effective way to warm up and activate my core quickly and efficiently.


To activate and warm up my legs before I do any stretching, I start with my favorite kick sequence. I like to use ankle weights, but these exercises work just as well without if you don’t have access to ankle weights at home.

-Start lying on your back with your left foot planted on the floor, knee bent, and your right leg extended straight on the ground. You can extend your arms out to the side in a T position or lace your fingers behind your head.

-8 kicks to the front with your right leg, trying to get your knee to your nose (but don’t actually hit yourself in the face). Repeat on the left.

-Roll over to your side with both legs straight. You can prop yourself up on your bottom forearm.

-8 kicks to the side. Make sure you keep your turn out in your leg so that your knee is turned to the ground at the top of your kick. Repeat on the left.

-Come to hands and knees table-top position. Extend right leg straight back.

-8 kicks – bringing your right leg up to your shoulder. Try to keep your hips from moving out of alignment. Repeat on the left.

-8 kicks to the back, bending your knee at the top and arching. Repeat on the left.

-From your table-top position, lower from your hands onto your forearms.

-8 kicks to the back, keeping your leg straight the whole time. Repeat on the left.

Submitted by Rachel:

The best one I think is to work on the tricks that you maybe have not worked on at the gym because you would rather do something else. For example, handstands and press drills can be such an easy and rewarding thing to practice because they don’t take much space and can really help your other skills, too. Another one is juggling since it’s really just something that takes time, that you now have! And you can learn to juggle with pretty much anything (I taught my friend how to juggle with orange peels), and it doesn’t take up too much room (over a bed if there’s fragile stuff everywhere). Plus, there’s an infinite amount of juggling tricks (and you can make some up if you want) and so many videos on YouTube with cool juggling moves.

As for conditioning, the article I wrote (Tips on Injury Prevention) I think has a few good exercises that can be done at home, but for cardio, if you live in a house with stairs, maybe run up and down the stairs.

Another piece of advice is to try to connect with your circus group if you have one and do stretching or exercises over FaceTime. My troupe is actually going to do conditioning and stretching together over the app house party today, just so we can motivate each other and get some needed human interaction.

Submitted by Carleigh:

One of my favorite drills is a squat series from Suspend in Louisville! You start with 8 normal squats, then 8 plié squats (like a normal squat with feet turned out instead of straight forward).

After than you repeat with every number counting down from 8. So, after 8 of each, you do 7 of each, then 6 of each, then 5 and so on.

Another one of my favorites is backwards sit ups! This is where you lay on your stomach with something holding your feet down, maybe a family member or even just put your feet under a couch, then you try to lift your chest up off of the ground without using your hands. Your hands could be on your head or straight out in front of you and you are trying to lift up as much as possible. To make it harder you could try to go as high as you can and hold it. For the more bendy people the goal could be to try to reach back and touch whatever or whoever is holding your feet!

Submitted by Calista:

I would recommend, if you can, to have your regular teacher create a strength and stretch routine just for you.  They know you best and know what parts you need to work on to continue your training (for me it is my strength and maintaining my core).  Remember that your teachers may be out of work and arranging for a creation of a routine for you may also help them; mine have all been willing and able- using zoom to show me anything I do not understand. And, please, please remember to warm up!

Flexibility is important for me- so center splits against the wall and bridges against the wall to maintain back flexibility.

For strength, I walk across the floor on my hands, touching my shoulders with each “step.”

Here are the sites I am using for free online training during the school closures:

Acrobatic Arts (Instagram):  Flexibility and conditioning, live streamed through Instagram

CLI studios:  Dance classes live streamed, times listed on their Instagramor Facebook

I also zoom with my friends and we create our own challenges.

Submitted by Emily:

*NEW* UNICYCLE ABS! (5 min. Plank Workout) by cirqueLIFE:

This video has some great conditioning drills. I find it is a lot more fun to train with other circus people than by yourself and that can be especially hard when socially distanced. ‘Training’ with Cirque Du Soleil artists from Totem can help to fill that gap, without even having to use Zoom or FaceTime!

Handstands on the Wall: Kick up to a handstand so that your back is on the wall and hold for as long as you want.  If you’re looking to get in some great conditioning, try doing 3-5 sets of 1 minute on the wall with a 1 minute break in between.  Or if you want to work on holding your handstand on the ground, try to gently kick of the wall and hold for as long as you can, only balancing by tapping one of your feet on the wall periodically.

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