Circuit training has come into its own recently, although it’s been around for decades. And though the philosophy appeals to many, you don’t have to join any particular gym to reap the time-saving fitness benefits of a circuit workout.
What Is Circuit Training?
Circuit training is short bursts of resistance exercise using moderate weights and frequent repetitions, followed quickly by another burst of exercise targeting a different muscle group. Because the exerciser switches between muscle groups, no rest is needed between exercises. This gets the heart rate up, which usually doesn’t happen during resistance exercise. Sometimes, to up heart rate further, aerobics are sprinkled between the resistance exercises.
Make sure each station or exercise is planned out in advance. Set up five to six exercises to be performed back to back without rest. Perform anywhere from 10 to 20 reps per exercise without stopping. Go from one exercise to the next until you complete one round of the circuit training routine. Once a round is complete, get a water break and rest for two to five minutes and then repeat at least three rounds total. It should not take you more than 30 minutes for a complete body workout using the circuit training routine.
Here is just one examples of a basic circuit training routine:
20 jumping jacks or burpees followed by 12 push ups followed by 15 body weight squats, then 20 ab crunches on the floor followed by 10 pull ups on your kids swing set (you can use a chair or stool to help with the exercise) then rest for two minutes and repeat two more times.
Every 10 minutes, check your heart rate. Ideally you get to 40 to 60 percent of maximum heart rate.
Why Circuit Training Works
The “classic” Cooper Clinic study done in 1982, which studied the effects of doing a circuit workout three times a week. The study had 77 participants, who were divided into three groups.
“One group did not train at all,” Westcott said. “One group just did the weights. And the third group jogged in between the weight sessions.”
Not surprisingly, the group that didn’t train saw no improvement in its cardiovascular fitness. The weights group improved cardio fitness by 12 percent. And the weights-and-jogging group improved 17 percent. (The weights group also improved strength by 17 percent and the weights-and-jogging group improved strength by 22 percent.)
Mike Levinson, a Calabasas resident, is a former amateur bodybuilding champion and registered dietitian who holds dual degrees in sports nutrition and physical education. He has worked extensively as a nutritionist with the California Angels baseball team and with famous athletes such as Charles Oakley, JT Snow and Sean Rooks. He also worked as a nutritionist for the Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders.