You are a young professional, running around at work, maybe still doing some school, but although you live a busy lifestyle, you are adamant to stay active. Your goals may be to shed those last ten pounds, or maybe you just want a no fuss way to exercise that is going to keep you interested. Whatever your goals may be, one sure fire way to get the benefits of resistance and cardiovascular training all in one is through circuit training.
Circuit training is an excellent tool for weight loss and overall health. It allows you to bring together two important components of fitness (resistance training and cardio). When you combine these two components, you can cut your workout time by half! Aside from the required time, circuit training has many other benefits. It keeps your heart pumping, burning lots of calories while building your cardio strength, it works different muscle groups in a shortened period of time, and you don’t need a lot of space or equipment.
So what is circuit training? Circuit training consists of a series of exercises done one after the other. These exercises can be weighted or not, or they can be as simple as running on the spot. Some people prefer to do a full body workout using a circuit, or they may opt to focus on say the lower body one day, and the upper another.
Circuits are also easy to modify. You may start a circuit that includes only your own body weight for resistance. As you become stronger and more comfortable with the movements, you can intensify your workout by increasing speed or length (for cardio portions), or resistance through the use of bands, medicine balls, dumbbells, or even machines if they are available to you.
Depending on the types of exercises you choose, you can use very small spaces which means no more excuses!
So you want to get started, what now? First thing is first, make a realistic list of fitness goals. Include areas that you are interested in strengthening, toning etc., the amount of days you would like to exercise per week (3 days is a good amount to start), and think about whether you will be working out mostly at home, or at the gym.
Next, you will need to make a short shopping list of circuit training essentials. The following are some great things for your toolkit: skipping rope, resistance bands/tubes, a mat, exercise ball, 5lb kettle bell and/or medicine ball. If you have a gym membership and plan on doing your circuits at the gym, you may not need to buy these things, but they are great to have at home for those times when you cannot make it there. Once you have the equipment, there are many great online resources that have exercises galore.
Simply typing in “resistance band exercises” or “plyometric exercises” into a search engine will give you more than enough ideas to help you build a few circuits to target your entire body.
Here is a sample beginner circuit you can try at home:
1 minute: Step-ups (on a step or stairs)
15 reps: squats
10 reps: push-ups (regular or modified on the knees)
15 reps (each leg): alternating lunges
15 reps: triceps dip (on a chair/table, make sure it is sturdy)
15 reps (per arm): resistance band bicep curls (no band? Use soup cans!)
15 reps: abdominal crunch
15 reps: leg raises (targets lower abdominals)
Rest for 90 seconds at the end of the circuit. Repeat circuit 2-3 times depending on your fitness level. As you progress, reduce your rest time.