Traditional workouts incorporate resistance training to gain muscle mass and tone the body and separate cardiovascular routines to help lose fat. The problem is that strength training doesn’t burn enough calories because of the amount of rest time between sets.
Conversely, cardiovascular exercise may burn calories, but it isn’t an effective way to gain strength. This is where circuit training workout comes into play. An effective circuit training program can offer you the best of both worlds.
Circuit Training Workout
Circuit training incorporates high-volume repetitions with low weight and minimal rest time between circuits. During the traditional circuit training routine, you will quickly move through between 9 to 12 exercise stations. The key to the program is to eliminate rest time between the exercise stations, otherwise known as circuits.
The circuit training routine was developed in 1953 at the University of Leeds, England. This concept may not be new; however, the program continues to evolve into updated circuits and is today more popular than ever.
Different Types of Circuit Training Programs
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of physical activity 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, or 20 minutes of intense cardio for at least three days a week.
The advantage of circuit training programs is that you can accomplish both ACSM physical guideline recommendations in any one of the different types of circuit training routines:
Many health clubs have a series of machines set up in close proximity that are specifically designed for a circuit training program. Each machine will try train different body parts and the circuit is generally between 7 to 12 exercises. During the routine, you will quickly move through the workout stations with minimal rest time between exercises.
Workout typically involves going through the entire circuit at least two times and generally lasts no more than 30 to 40 minutes.
Machine Circuit Training Program
Perform 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise and complete two full circuits of this program. Minimize rest time to no more than 10 seconds between stations.
The routine be performed 2 to 3 times a week with at least 24 hours of rest between workouts:
- Machine chest press
- Lateral pull downs
- Shoulder press machine
- Smith machine squats
- Leg curls
- Leg extensions
- Preacher curl machine
- Rope tricep pull down
This routine can be done with barbells, but is often more convenient with dumbbells. The principle of not resting between sets remains the same. The free weight routine will incorporate 8 to12 stations and is designed to train the entire body.
You can complete two entire circuits so that each part of the body is worked twice. Here’s an example of a circuitry routine using dumbbells:
Dumbbell Circuit Training Program
During each exercise perform 8 to 12 repetitions with minimal rest time between circuits. Perform this routine two days a week with at least 24 hours of rest between workouts:
- Bench press
- Military shoulder press
- One arm bent over rows
- Dumbbell curls
- Overhead tricep pull downs
- Dumbbell squats
- Deadlifts with dumbbells
Home Circuit Training Program
If you don’t have access to a health club or free weights, you can still participate in a circuit routine at home. To make your heart work harder, add some cardio exercises like jumping jacks to the program.
The below routine can be performed 2 to 3 days a week with at least 24 hours of rest between workouts:
- Perform 20 push-ups
- Perform 50 jumping jacks
- Perform 20 squats
- Perform 15 lunges with each leg
- Perform 15 dips
- Perform 20 legless
- Perform 10 pull-ups
- Perform 25 abdominal crunches
Try to complete to full circuits of this routine. The entire workout should take about 30 minutes to complete.
A complete cardio circuit is centered on a range of cardio exercises. This can help to work a variety of muscles and also assists with eliminating boredom during a workout. A typical cardio circuit may include 5 minutes on the elliptical machine, followed by 5 minutes on a stationary bicycle, 5 minutes on stair climber and 5 minutes on the treadmill.
There should be no rest between circuits and as your fitness level increases, you can add to the time of each circuit.
Benefits of Circuit Training
Circuit training offers numerous benefits for participants. It’s easy to see why this type of training has become popular at so many health clubs across America. Here are just a few reasons why you should incorporate a circuit training program into your fitness routine:
- Burns calories
- Build muscle
- Eliminates boredom
- Shorter workouts with effective results
- Can be done with minimal or no equipment
- Whole body workout