Eat & move: Derval O'Rourke's super circuits, sweet and salty nuts and quinoa salad

This week I’m sharing two super circuits that can be completed separately when you’re short on time or combined for a full body session.

Eat & move: Derval O'Rourke's super circuits, sweet and salty nuts and quinoa salad

This week I’m sharing two super circuits that can be completed separately when you’re short on time or combined for a full body session.

For my recipe, it’s my sweet and salty nuts plus a simple quinoa salad, both perfect for making in big batches for the week ahead.

Staying fit and healthy when things get busy can seem like an impossible task, but trust me with a little bit of extra effort it can be done. When it comes to fitting in exercise when I’ve a to-do list the length of my arm, there are a few things I try to keep in mind.

  • Be flexible: You don’t have to stick to a strict training schedule to be fit. There are weeks where all I can squeeze in is a short session while Dafne is napping and that’s okay, there have also been plenty weeks when I’ve got nothing done. Booking yourself into a class is another great way to increase your activity.
  • Go easy on yourself: Training is a priority for me, it makes me feel good and keeps my body strong, but sometimes other things like my work, social or family life take first place and that’s fine. Fitness should never take away from other aspects of your life and being healthy includes rest days and weeks off too.
  • Don’t panic: If you can’t train, use it as an opportunity to focus on the things you wouldn’t usually prioritise like sleep, hydration, meal prep and stretching.

Circuits are my go-to when I’m busy. This one can be completed as a full body session or broken into two mini-sessions if you are short on time. All you need is a pair of dumbbells and a little bit of space.

Lower Body Circuit

Romanian Dead lifts

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold the dumbbells in front of you, palms facing in. Bend your knees ever so slightly and hinge forwards from the hips, keeping your back straight. Lower the weights towards the floor, keeping them close to your legs, and feel the pull down your hamstrings. Return to the starting position, squeezing your glutes at the top.

Goblet Squats

Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing slightly outwards. Hold the weights to your chest. Squat down until your knees are at a right-angle, sitting back into the movement and ensuring your knees don’t travel over your toes. Keep your chest up and back straight. Return to a standing position.

Hip Thrusts

Laying flat on the floor with your legs bent hold the dumbbells on your hips. Pushing through your heels, extend your hips towards the sky and squeeze your glutes together at the top of the movement. Return to the starting position with control.

Reverse Lunges (per leg)

Stand up straight, with your feet together, placing your hands on your sides. Keep your chest up and shoulders back. With your feet still together, step one foot backward into a lunge position. Bend both knees to around a 90-degree angle. As you place your foot on the floor behind of you, make sure your front knee is in line with your ankle. The back knee should also be just above the floor. Make sure your knees don’t roll in or out, then drive and push up out of the lunge until both feet meet together again. Repeat on the other leg.

Do eight repetitions of each exercise as a circuit.

Complete four rounds of the circuit.

Upper Body Circuit

10 Triceps push ups

Begin in high plank position with shoulders over wrists and core engaged. Bend the elbows behind you and lower your chest to the floor, keeping your upper arms tight to your body. Straighten the arms to return to plank position. To make it easier, lower your knees to the ground.

10 dumbbell presses

In a seated position, hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your chest, palms facing away from you. Pushing your lower back into the seat, extend your arms overhead and push the dumbbells upwards in one smooth movement. Return to the starting position.

10 dumbbell rows

Bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forwards, keeping your back straight. Hold the dumbbells in front of you with your palms facing inwards. Bend your arms and move the dumbbells to your sides, keeping your elbows close to your body. Squeeze your back at the top of the movement. Lower to starting position.

10 bicep curls (each side)

In a standing position with feet hip-width apart, hold the dumbbells by your sides with your shoulders pulled back and your core engaged. Lift one hand, keeping your elbow tight to your side, and curl the weight up until your palm faces you. Lower back to the starting position with control.

Do 10 repetitions of each exercise as a circuit.

Complete four rounds of the circuit.



Founded by Zanna Van Dijik, Tally Rye and Victoria Spence, the girl gains movement aims to educate, empower and inspire women to become the best versions of themselves. It’s packed with meal ideas, workouts and inspiring stories and the new Fit & Fearless podcast on BBC Radio 5 Live is well worth a listen if you are interested in all things fitness.

Sweet and Salty Nuts

Nuts are packed with nutritional goodness. They are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fibre. These sweet and salty nuts are as versatile as they are yummy. My only problem is that is that I usually end up eating them straight from the pan all in one go.

Makes: A handful of nuts

A handful of nuts. I love pecans

2tbs maple syrup

A pinch of sea salt

Heat a dry pan over a medium heat, add the nuts and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly until they are lightly crisp and turn a slightly darker brown.

Add the maple syrup, and continue to stir for another 3-5 minutes or until syrup is caramelised and nuts are toasted.

Remove from the heat, sprinkle over the salt and stir to combine. Allow to cool before eating.

Simple Quinoa Salad

This salad makes a tasty and healthy lunch. It’s perfect for making in big batches and can be customised to your taste by adding things like spinach, grated carrot, raisins or pomegranate seeds.

Serves: 1

A small bowl of cooked quinoa

A handful of feta cheese, crumbled

A handful of sweet and salty nuts. See recipe above

Juice of half a lemon or lime

3tbs olive oil

A handful of fresh herbs, such as basil, mint or parsley, chopped

Pinch of salt.

Place all of the ingredients in a serving bowl and mix well.

Eat straight away or place in the fridge in an airtight container for lunch the next day.

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