Are you limited on time or just don’t want to spend an hour in the gym because the weather is nice? Don’t want to work out because you aren’t sure what exercises to do or tired of using the elliptical for 30 minutes 5 days a week? Do you want to lose some weight/fat and build muscle?Do you want to improve your overall fitness? If the answer is yes, circuit training would be a great way to combat all of these issues.
In a circuit, you will perform all of the exercises in the workout in succession with no to minimal breaks (~10-30 seconds). A longer break (~1-3 minutes) can be taken between rounds/sets. Whether you are brand new to the fitness scene or simply just unsure how to build your own workout without the help of a trainer, keep reading to learn how to set up your circuit workout.
Getting Started With Circuit Training
As more buzzwords pop up in the fitness community, more confusion may set in. It is often helpful to take a step back, simplify your workouts and increase the intensity you bring to the workout.
First, you must decide what you are going to train (total, upper, or lower body). Once you have chosen one of the three templates below, you need to pick the exercises you want to perform for each movement (push, pull, squat, core, etc.). Finally, you choose the amount of reps/sets/rest based on your training experience and goal.
The next chart provides a compilation of staple exercises for each movement listed. This is only a small list for each movement, so you may choose exercises that are not listed. Be sure to choose exercises that align with your specific goals.
Repetitions and Timing
Now it’s time to decide how much of each exercise you will be doing. If circuit training is new to you, performing 2-3 rounds is often recommended. As you build on this type of workout, you can begin to increase your rounds up to 4 or 5 rounds.
Your workout can be based on reps or time.
If muscle building is your goal, 5-15 reps per exercise work great. If muscular endurance is your goal, 10-25 reps each work great.
Let’s say you would rather base your workout on time. You will do as many reps as possible in the given work time followed by a short rest period. If you are only doing 5 or 6 reps in the time allotted and your goal is endurance, you would want to lighten the weight so you can increase the amount of reps you can perform. On the other hand, if you are shooting for 8-10 reps and are able to do 20, increase the weight.
Here are a few example intervals:
- 40 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
- 30 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest
- 30 seconds of work, 30 seconds of rest
- 20 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
Always remember to warm-up to prime the body for more intense exercise and cool-down to promote better recovery. Now that you know how to develop your own workouts, it’s time to get after it! Do work!