Although many people are initially motivated to hit the gym and workout hard, one of the main reasons people drop their workout routines is they simply can’t afford to spend an hour or more at the gym each day. This is where circuit training becomes an ideal form of exercise.
Fast and Furious with Circuit Training
Circuit training is a fantastic way to quickly get in shape and blast through your plateaus. The term “circuit” refers to planned exercises performed in a specific format, or order, with little to no rest in between each set. A high-energy workout, circuit training combines aerobic with anaerobic forms of exercise which can be performed at the gym, outside or at home – they’re a convenient way to supercharge your workouts that don’t require a ton of equipment .
Several studies have been performed on the benefits of circuit training and have found it to be an advantageous addition to a workout routine. The shorter workout time, combined with noticeable results, generally provides a program that individuals are motivated to repeat, and most importantly, are able to stick with over time.
Studies have found that a circuit that combines 30 seconds of workload (high intensity exercise) followed by a brief recovery could improve VO2 Max by 5%.
It has also been found to be effective in maintaining, and possibly improving, aerobic gains. The results of the studies found that circuit training meets a suitable muscular fitness stimulus, but also meets the ACSM guidelines for physical activity.
Circuit training is an effective form of training that has been proven to positively affect overall body composition. As you perform more circuit sessions your body begins to adapt to the higher workloads and your muscles will begin to tolerate the increase in lactic acid production (which is the body’s natural defence mechanism against pushing too hard). Circuit training will begin to affect your body composition as you adapt to higher intensity exercises for longer periods of time.
- One study found that circuit training can decrease body fat by as much as 3%.
- Workload sets encourages lean mass development, while still decreasing overall body fat.
- The estimated caloric expenditure for Circuit Training has been found to be about 5-6 kcal per minute for women, and 8-9 kcal a minute for men (estimates vary relative to body weight).
- Most 30 minute circuit training sessions can burn anywhere from 200-300 calories.
In short, circuit training improves both strength and endurance, and is a great way to rapidly burn fat.
Example Circuit Program
Circuits are generally performed with higher reps with reduced weight and little to no rest time between each exercise. Perform each exercise using a weight that’s challenging to you (when weight is required), but one that you can complete an entire set with. In a crowded gym this can be difficult, but do the best you can to move from one exercise to the next with little to no rest.
Begin with a warm up for 10-15 minutes on the treadmill. Complete the entire circuit a least twice, depending on your time it can be repeated 3 or 4 times. Do no rest between exercises, and take 2 minutes rest between circuits. Once complete cool-down on the treadmill for 10-15 min.
- Pull Ups Until Failure
- Push Ups – 10
- Burpees – 15
- Squats to Shoulder Press – 30
- Run on Treadmill for 2 min at 8.0 MPH
- Body Weight Dips – 15
- Lunges with Bicep Curl – 15 (per side)
- Side Planks – 25 seconds per side x 2 (4 total)
- Medicine Ball Twists – 20 (per side)
- Run on Treadmill for 2 min at 8.0 MPH
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- Gotshalk, L.A., Berger, R.A., and Kraemer, W.J. (2004). Cardiovascular responses to a high-volume continuous circuit resistance training protocol. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(4), 760-764.
- Mosher et al. (1994). Effects of 12 weeks of aerobic circuit training on aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and body composition in college-aged women. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 8 (3), 144-148