Circuit training 101, plus a full circuit training workout plan

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These days, with worldwide obesity levels at an all-time high, and life expectancies actually decreasing rather than increasing for the first time in history, health and fitness experts are encouraging more and more of us to swap the TV remote for a set of dumbbells, and to become more physically active.

In order to benefit from optimal health, fitness, and general well-being, it’s vital that we eat a healthy and balanced diet, and that we get plenty of physical exercise.

When people think of exercise, they tend to picture monotonous workouts on the treadmill or exercise bike, surrounded by sweating and grunting fitness fanatics.

The truth of the matter however, is that we can get plenty of physical exercise in a whole variety of different ways. Some prefer cardio, some play sports, some lift weights, and some tend to prefer circuit training, which is what we’ll be looking at right now.


What exactly is circuit training?

In simple terms, circuit training is a fast-paced method of working out, often in classes with other gym-goers, which requires individuals to alternate between different exercises for different periods of time, before immediately moving on to another one and so on…

As for the time period, generally that depends on which type of circuit training or circuit training class that you’re participating in. Some exercises will last for 30 seconds, some 60, and some can last up to five, even ten minutes.

Think of it like a game of sorts, in which you will begin at a station, will perform whichever exercise happens to be at that station, for the specified amount of time, before moving on to the very next station.

Circuit training is generally split up into different rounds, with each round consisting of several different stations and different exercises.

Say for example, you have 3 exercises requiring each exercise to be completed 3 times, once you’ve performed each of the 3 exercises 3 times, that will be Round 1 complete.

What are the benefits?

Circuit training offers numerous benefits when compared with other forms of exercise and physical activity, some of the more prominent benefits include the following:

  • It can be performed quickly
  • It boosts your aerobic fitness
  • It increases your endurance
  • It boosts your metabolism
  • It’s fantastic for burning fat
  • It’s a great way of mixing up your exercise routine

A sample strength-building full-body circuit

Now that we know a little more about what circuit training is and why it’s so beneficial, here’s a look at a sample strength-building full-body circuit that you can perform the next time you’re in the gym.

Round 1  – Chest/back/triceps

  1. Flat bench dumbbell press – 10 reps x3
  2. Wide grip lat-pulldowns – 10 reps x3
  3. Overhead triceps rope extensions – 10 reps x3

*Move from one exercise to the next and repeat three times, 30 reps per exercise in total.

Rest for 2 minutes

Round 2  – Shoulders/legs/biceps

  1. Seated dumbbell press – 10 reps x3
  2. Bodyweight squats – 10 reps x3
  3. EZ bar curls – 10 reps x3

*Move from one exercise to the next and repeat three times, 30 reps per exercise in total.

Rest for 2 minutes

Round 3 – Muscle fatiguing bodyweight circuit

  • Push ups – 15 reps x3
  • Lunges – 10 reps per leg x3
  • Close grip push ups – 10 reps x3
  • Pull ups – 8 reps x3
  • Burpees – 10 reps x3
  • Sit ups – 15 reps x3

*Move from one exercise to the next and repeat three times, 30 reps per exercise in total.

The idea behind this final circuit is to fatigue and exhaust the fast-twitch muscle fibres, putting them in a perfect anabolic condition necessary for nutrient absorption.

It’s vital that you consume a post-workout protein shake as soon after this circuit as possible, as the idea is to flood the vulnerable muscles with nutrients necessary for protein synthesis.

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