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Interval Circuit Training: How To Quickly Transform Your Body, Lose Fat And Build Muscle

Updated on March 1, 2013

Interval Training

The term interval training refers to a workout in which the intensity is intentionally changed at specific intervals. The changing intensity allows you to do more in less time. I could exercise at a moderate pace and burn calories slowly or I could do an intense exercise for a short period of time and burn calories quickly. With interval training I would do both.

The intense exercise allows me to burn calories quickly and build muscle while the moderate exercise gives me a chance to recover enough to do it again. For example while using an exercise bike I could go at a fast speed for 2 minutes, slow down so I can catch my breath then go back to a sprinting pace. With interval training the amount of time spent on the intensity levels depends on the workout. Usually the high intensity portions are brief with longer periods of moderate exercise.

For really intense workouts it is the other way around. Many people believe interval training works a lot better than trying to maintain a consistent intensity level. It can be used to get rid of fat while building muscle. One of the main benefits is the afterburn effect that results from the intense exercise and the muscles. Doing intense cardio causes your body to continue to burn calories at an increased rate long after you stop exercising. You also burn more calories throughout the day if you increase your muscle weight.

Circuit Training

Switching from one exercise to the next is referred to as circuit training. Usually the exercises focus on different muscles or at least uses them in different ways. After you go through all the exercises you can do another circuit by doing all the exercises again. It is a good way to get a full body workout. I like that I can do an exercise until my muscles can not take anymore and then switch to another exercise right away instead of quitting or taking a break.

When doing circuit training you pick out the exercises you want to do and put them in an order that allows you to get the most out of your workout. The duration for each exercise is usually short. After you start circuit training you may need to experiment and make changes to the routine to see what works best for you.

My Previous Experience

I can burn a lot of calories running or biking without changing the intensity at specific intervals. In the summer I do a lot of long distance biking. So I spend a lot of time working on my endurance by running on my elliptical trainer or biking. If I want to burn 1,400 calories by running on my elliptical trainer I could by running 12.5 miles in around 2 hours. However I do not want to run for 2 hours 5 days a week all the time. It is only practical in the spring when I am getting ready for the summer bike rides to and around provincial parks.

In the off season when it is too cold to bike I need to find other ways to get exercise.

Interval Circuit Training Exercise Routine

To make the most of my time and keep it interesting I picked out some good exercises with different intensities. I wanted to switch from one exercise to the next without resting while varying the intensity enough that I could catch my breath and keep going. My routine consisted of incline push-ups, barbell curls, diamond push-ups, jumping rope, shadow boxing, running and jogging. For a week I did 1 circuit a day that lasted approximately 20 minutes.

I did incline push-ups with my feet raised on the stairs to increase the difficulty and I used heavy barbells. This reduced the amount of repetitions I needed to do. When I could no longer do the exercise without resting I switched to the next one. For the cardio section I switched at specific intervals. I did 5 minutes of jumping rope, 5 minutes of shadow boxing, 2 minutes of running fast and 3 of jogging on an elliptical trainer. The running was the hardest part for me. It was difficult to maintain the fast pace of 11.5 miles an hour for 2 minutes.

The number of repetitions for each exercise changed a bit as my endurance improved. It was a difficult routine that left me feeling tired but it also made me feel good. One of the first things I noticed was how hot I got. I had to go from wearing long clothes and still being a bit cold to wearing just shorts and socks. At the start of the workout I was cold but by the time I was finished I was dripping with sweat.


I noticed an increase in strength and my endurance improved a bit. A lot of my muscles became a little firmer including my abs because it was a whole body workout. My exercise performance improved throughout the week. By the end of the week I lost 2.4 pounds even though I gained some muscle. Based on the circumference of my stomach I lost 1 3/8 inches of fat. Since I was doing different exercises that focused on different muscles it was a lot easier on the individual muscles.

When checking your results with an exercise routine like this keep in mind that you will gain some muscle and lose fat. Doing both at the same time can make it more difficult to measure your progress at first but you should be able to feel the difference. An easy way to measure fat loss is to see how much you can grab. To check your muscles feel them when they are flexed or see how strong they are by using them.


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    • RickMc profile image

      RickMc 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Really helpful article. Thanks! I think a lot of schedules would work well with intense interval training.