If you head to the nearest gym and ask the people what they are doing to get slimmer, the least likely answer you’ll probably get is circuit training. The reason behind this is that people have reduced circuit training to nothing but a cardiovascular exercise. Sometimes, people in the gym even equate it to simply stretching.
That’s really sad to here because it couldn’t be further from the truth. True circuit training is actually a workout that not only melts fat, but encourages mental fortitude and physical strength too.
What is circuit training?
I think Dummies sums up what circuit training is nicely. Heck, it even includes a nice metaphor! According to the website,
“Circuit training is a fast-paced class in which you do one exercise for 30 seconds to 5 minutes and then move on to another exercise. It’s like a game of musical chairs: Everyone begins at a station (that is, a place where an exercise is done), and when the instructor yells “Time!” everyone moves to the next free station. Some classes alternate an aerobic activity (like stepping or stationary cycling) with a muscle-strengthening activity (like using weight machines). Others focus exclusively on muscle toning or aerobic exercise.”
Personally, I think circuit training is great because you only use your own body weight and some free weights. It involves the major compound exercises like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and even pull ups. It’s extremely intense too. You perform the exercises in a consecutive manner, with little to no rest in between. By the end of your circuit training routines, you’ll feel exhausted and truly worked out.
People who work out normally equate circuit training for women. Jeff Bayer of askmen.com expounds on this common misconception.
“If you’re like many men, you probably think that circuit training is something a woman does with measly five-pound dumbbells. This is probably because you associate no rest periods with light weights, and if you are trying to increase your strength, you likely think you need to be lifting as much weight as possible.
However, muscle responds to the total tension produced. If you use lighter weights, but are able to get in more sets during a certain period of time, you will produce the same — if not more — total tension and will stimulate your muscles to grow.”
Benefits of Circuit Training
I like circuit training because of how nicely it fits into my busy schedule. It also allows me to work on my endurance while at the same time working on my strength. Since I’m always moving, my heart rate becomes very fast, thereby getting the same kind of benefits as the person who just runs on the treadmill for hours on end.
Samantha Koph from fitday.com echoes my sentiments. She says that,
“Due to the lack of rest that circuit training demands, exercisers maintain elevated heart rates for the entire period of exercise. The combination of weight training and increased cardiovascular effort makes circuit training a beneficial type of cross training. The exerciser gains muscle through the resistance training. The exerciser increases his/her cardiovascular endurance during the slightly elevated heart rate that is maintained in between sets and throughout the overall program. The exerciser burns high amounts of calories during the high exertion periods of his/her sets.
Circuit training is also a convenient way to exercise. It maximizes the total exercise volume (number of sets, repetitions, and amount of weight) completed in a period of time. Exercises are completed in a row, and therefore, the time spent exercising is condensed. Separate cardiovascular training is not necessary. All body parts are trained in one session, and therefore, exercisers do not need to work out every day.”
Why Circuit Training is Better
There are many benefits to circuit training, but you can get those benefits in other workout programs too, right? The real question is, “what makes circuit training BETTER than all the rest?” Liz Nerporent of Fitness Magazine highlights three reasons why she thinks circuit training is actually better than other workout programs.
• Circuit training is a great boredom buster: Moving quickly from one exercise to the next means your mind doesn’t have time to wander or tune out.
• An all-strength circuit burns 30 percent more calories (about nine per minute!) than a typical weight workout and offers more cardio benefits.
• A circuit that combines cardio and strength moves will blast fat and sculpt muscle. It can also burn up to 10 calories a minute
When you do decide to engage in circuit training, always remember to pick exercises that work the bigger muscle groups and those that do need too much focus on coordination. When you are tired, it can get difficult to maintain proper form. Below is a sample workout from bodybuilding.com that you can do. It’s called the Aerobic/Athletic Circuit and should be done three times a week. Also note that you should rest as little as possible between sets, with a maximum of two minutes rest after the circuit.
• Clean 1 x 10
• Bench Press or Dips 1 x 10
• Squat or Lunge 1 x 10
• Push Press 1 x 10
• SLDL 1 x 10
• Calf Raises 1 x 10
• Rows or Bent-over Rows or Weighted Pullups 1 x 10
• Weighted Sit-ups 1 x 10
• (optional) Run 200-400m
In a nutshell, circuit training is basically doing consecutive weight training exercises with only partial recovery. The aim of the circuit training workout is twofold: to generate lactic acid and discharge growth hormones in your body. As you do circuit training, you can expect to see gains not only in overall endurance, but in strength capacity as well.