Looking for a way to spice up your workout routine with some new heat? Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just got introduced to physical activity, circuit training is an excellent way to truly challenge your body in a variety of ways.
What Is Circuit Training?
A typical circuit training is a type of workout that involves several exercise stations. After closing a station, you move on quickly to the next station instead of resting. Strength and endurance circuits alternate muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body, and core, so little or no rest is required in-between stations.
This post will focus on a form of circuit training: aerobic + strength. This variety of circuit alternates 1-2 sets of resistance training (free weights, bodyweight, bands, dumbbells), with brief cardiovascular exercise sessions (stationary cycling, jogging, rowing) lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes. Depending on your objectives and the number of stations, you can perform 1 or more circuits in a 30-45 minute session.
Advantages of Circuit Workouts
Lack of motivation and time limitations are common reasons for failing to stick to a fitness routine. That’s why circuit training workouts are so advantageous. They offer a practical solution to get your daily sweat in even when you’re short on time. It’s a great and flexible way to keep training exciting and saves you time while promoting cardiovascular and muscular fitness. It goes without saying that you’ll burn a significant number of calories, too.
Because the activities can be done in any sequence, you can design every workout to suit your mood or a particular goal. Partaking in a group circuit-training class is an excellent way to explore new exercises you might not have tried independently.
If you never have the time to visit the gym during the week, set up strength and cardio stations at home (indoors or outdoors) and keep things simple. Cardio could include walking in your backyard or jogging on the treadmill, running up and down the driveway, or jumping rope. For strength stations, add push-ups, planks, and lunges to the list. You can also use bands, dumbbells, and kettlebells to intensify the circuits.
Many gyms offer circuit training classes, so check with yours if they provide this type of service. The only downside of gym circuits is that you’ll need to move quickly from station to station, so if others are using the equipment, your whole circuit is compromised. We recommend working with a certified personal trainer and building a custom circuit training workout using multiple gears.
Full Body Circuit Workout
Select an Upper-Body Exercise
Circuit training intends to use whatever you have on hand. For instance, if you’re at the gym, you have a more comprehensive range of options – but all you actually need is your body and time. You can pick a different upper-body movement each round or repeat the same exercise every time to keep things simple.
Upper-Body Circuit Training Exercises:
1: Shoulder press
2: Bent-over row
4: Triceps dip
6: Russian twist
Select a Lower-Body Exercise
Just like the upper body section, pick exercises that will work every part of your lower body. Feel free to diversify the moves each round or stay the course with the same one.
Lower-Body Circuit Training Exercises:
1: Forward lunge
2: Sumo squat
3: Calf raise
4: Hamstring curl on a Swiss ball
Select a Compound Exercise
Weight training is a great workout, but you’ll get the most out of your circuit training program by supplementing it with some total-body movements.
Compound Circuit Training Exercises:
1: Jumping lunge
2: Mountain climbers
3: Thruster (squat to shoulder press)
5: Bench hop-over
6: Single-arm kettlebell swing
Select a Sprint (1 minute)
Research proves that short, quick sprints are the most efficient way to burn fat. Pick any cardio type you like to add to your circuit training plan and keep at it for 1 minute.
Cardio Circuit Training Exercises:
2: Jumping rope
5: Up-hill jogging
6: Stair climbing
Rest for 1 minute
You deserve it! Drop everything and take a break. Get some water, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Let your heart rate settle down, and then go back through the circuit a couple more times (or as many times as you’d like) for a total body workout.
Turn It Up – Go All Out
If you’ve been performing circuit training for some time and are ready to intensify your workouts, consider these ideas:
- Reduce your time intervals. If you’re used to doing 2-minute cardio intervals, try performing them by 30 seconds. This will force you to move quicker through the course, letting you complete more stations in the same amount of time.
- Increase the heat. If your strength sets are getting too light, double the resistance or pick a different activity that works the same muscles. Turn your cardio periods up a notch by adding an extra cardio exercise.
- Perform a backward circuit. If you consistently work through your circuit in the same direction every time, try it backward. Begin at the opposite end to stimulate your body and your brain.
Are you looking for a short but intense workout routine that fuses cardio and strength training in 30 minutes? Follow these easy steps to create your own fat-burning, muscle-developing circuit routine. The best part? It’s easily customizable and manageable. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and crush it!