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Circuit Training Basics

Updated on January 30, 2014

Exercises are completed one after another with little to no rest in between. Once one circuit is finished, a short rest period is taken, and everything is repeated starting with the first exercise.

Typically, muscle groups are worked individually. It is also possible to create a circuit involving full body exercises. This type of training is popular because it burns more calories, increases the metabolism, and takes less time than other workouts that are not organized in a circuit style.

These three steps will get you started on your circuit training fitness journey.

Step One: Plan The Workout

Circuit workouts are performed best when everything is planned before the body begins motion. This eliminates any confusion over what to do next since everything is completed in quick succession. One way to organize a circuit workout is by starting with an upper body exercise, then a lower body, a core, and finally a full body movement. Here is an example of this program design:

Exercise One: Tricep Pushup

Exercise Two: Walking Lunge

Exercise Three: Plank

Exercise Four: Jumping Jack

Complete 15 of each with no rest before moving on to the next movement. After all four are done, rest for thirty seconds before repeating. Do this a total of five times. As your fitness level improves you can add more exercises, more sets of the circuit, or more repetitions per exercise. Use a good stopwatch to time your rest accurately. Below are more workout plans that follow this format. Try a different one each week.

Exercise One: Pull-Up

Exercise Two: Squat

Exercise Three: Sit Up

Exercise Four: Jump Rope

Exercise One: Bench Dip

Exercise Two: Box Step Up

Exercise Three: Abdominal Crunch

Exercise Four: Burpee

Exercise One: Curl

Exercise Two: Calf Raise

Exercise Three: Bicycle

Exercise Four: Sprint

Step Two: Mix Up The Format

Once you are familiar with putting together a list of four exercises, you can push yourself to add more variety. You can add more full body exercises to make each round more intense.

Try to mix some easier exercises in between the most challenging ones in order to complete the entire circuit. Remember, no rest until the end. Here are examples of longer and more comprehensive circuits.

Exercise One: Mountain Climber
Exercise Two: Overhead Press
Exercise Three: Floor Wipers
Exercise Four: Push Ups
Exercise Five: High Knees
Exercise Six: Jump Squat
Exercise Seven: Leg Lifts

Exercise One: Butt Kicks
Exercise Two: Clean and Press
Exercise Three: Deadlift
Exercise Four: Box Jumps
Exercise Six: Inch Worm
Exercise Seven: Wall Sit

Step Three: Make It More Challenging

Adding equipment can test your strength and balance. Alternatively, combining exercises can add a calorie burning boost.

Exercise One: Lunges with a Medicine Ball

Exercise Two: Squat to Press

Exercise Three: Plank to Push Up

Exercise Four: Stability Ball Crunch

Exercise Five: Stability Ball Leg Curl

Exercise Six: Side Plank (make sure to do both sides)

Some additional items you may want to add to your collection include the following:

-Towel

-Stopwatch

-Resistance Bands

-Yoga Mat

-Proper Shoes

-Lightweight Clothing

-Exercise Ball

-Medicine Balls of various weights

-Foam Roller

-Bosu Ball

-Stainless Steel Water Bottle

-Pull Up Bar

-Weight Lifting Gloves

-Notebook and Pen (to track your progress)

Another way to mix up your circuit workouts is by taking them to new and challenging terrain. Train in water or a swimming pool, run up hills, do laps around a track, or use the sand at the beach as a natural resistance. Wearing weighted ankle and wrist bands will make it harder to complete any body weight circuit exercises. Using them would be another way to eliminate carrying around bulky equipment if you are working out in a small space or traveling.

Suspension trainers such as the TRX are lightweight tools that can change the way common exercises are performed. They can be tied to a tree or doorway to provide on the spot resistance. Suspension trainers also can work in circuit workouts by testing your balance and incorporating more muscle groups into a given movement. Use them for planks, lunges, squats, rows, curls, and a number of other exercises.

Circuit training is less about which exercises you do and more about keeping yourself moving. As long as you hit all areas of the body twice a week and make it hard enough to break a sweat, you will do just fine.

It would be a wise idea to plan some workouts without equipment using just your bodyweight. You will also want to incorporate new pieces of gear to encourage your body to grow. Circuit workouts are great because they can be done outside, at home, or in a gym. They can also be completed alone or with a group of friends.

Your Opinion

Circuit training for me is fun but what is your experience? do you enjoy this kind of fitness or is it to much for beginners?

I would love to know your opinion on circuit training good or bad let me know in the comments box below.

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