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Circuit Training Ideas
With the weather turning colder, many emails to me this week discussed
running in the cold weather, or alternative exercises you can do in the
weight room that will also have a cardiovascular effect. Circuit training is
one of the best ways to make a resistance and strength training workout that
is also challenging for your heart and lungs. It is also an extremely
efficient use of time as you tend to "rest" by doing another
Also - NEW - Circuit Training 101 ebook - All Levels of Fitness
The Full-body Push - Pull Circuit:
This workout is a 20-minute workout that will take you to your maximum
physical effort as well as your maximum heart rate. The object of this
workout is not to rest in between exercises. You will see that one minute of
a particular exercise will burn out the targeted muscle group as well as
increase your heart rate to a fat and sugar burning zone. Try the 20 minute
workout below - if it is not challenging enough for you try it for 3-4
totaling 30-40 minutes of your time in the weight room.
20 Minutes Circuit Workout
(*choose light weights for max reps)
Do every OTHER day
Stretch 1:00 of whatever is tight and repeat 1-2 more times!!
For instance, here is an upper-body, lower-body, core, cardio circuit:
I have never been a fan of ONLY doing machine weights as the machines take away balance, stabilizing muscles and isolate muscles groups. There are not many things in life that allows for you to isolate a muscle group. If you are just getting started or nursing an injury, these machines are ideal for building a foundation of strength. But eventually, you should add in more exercises like calisthenics or dumbbells or free weights that will help you create more functional (real-life) workouts.
Rest with Crunches Circuit - Another great way to do a circuit is in between EVERY exercise machine - drop to the floor and do 20-30 abs of your choice. I like to do this two ways. Pick one exercise like bench press and do bench press 10-15 reps / 20-30 crunches and repeat that cycle 2-3 times. Move to the next exercise like pull-downs or pull-ups and do the same thing - "resting with crunches" in between each set of the exercises you choose.
TRX Circuits - If you have a TRX, they are built for circuit training as you can move from one exercise to the next in only seconds. See video link for a few of the options:
Video - Full-body TRX Circuit
Great Cardio / Leg workouts - Run, row, bike or elliptical glide for 5 minutes to warm up the legs and get the heart pumping. Then stop and do a leg circuit of the following exercises for 1 minute each: Squats, 1/2 squats, lunges, heel raises, and stretch. Repeat the 5 minute cardio and leg PT circuit 3-4 times for a challenging leg workout you will feel the next day.
There is an unlimited number of ways to organize a circuit workout. The
above workouts are organized with upper body, lower body and cardiovascular
exercises. By simply doing the above upper body and lower body exercises in
such a way, you will be able to rest your upper body muscles while you
workout your lower body muscles, but you will never rest your heart. This is
how you make the circuit workout challenging to your cardiovascular system
as well as your major muscle groups. Studies have shown that mixing a
resistance training regimen with a cardiovascular element will increase your
metabolism, therefore burning fat and building muscle. The result is a
decrease in body fat percentage.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author
certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National
Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a
workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the StewSmith.com
Fitness eBook store and the
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