Circuit training can be a highly effective means for stimulating the muscles of the entire body in a single workout, hitting the fast- and slow- twitch fibers of the entire body while at the same time stimulating each muscle group through every possible angle. It’s almost like a sampling of everything you can do for each muscle group – in every single workout! But when used incorrectly, such training can lead to developmental imbalances and wasted time. Are you ready to get the most out of your circuit training?
First, let’s detail what exactly is meant by ‘circuit training’. A circuit training workout involves hitting every muscle group of the body with a single training session. You dedicate an equal amount of sets to the larger muscle groups (say, 2 per cycle) and a smaller number of sets to the smaller muscle groups (say, 1 per cycle). You complete 12 to 16 exercises IN A ROW with little to no rest between each of your sets. You are then able to target the entire body in one fell swoop, in a marathon training session that lasts less than 8 minutes. Then, you rest for 3-4 minutes, and you do it again! You complete 3 to 6 of these “circuits” until you are completely spent.
Designing the workout will be easy once you take into account the answers to a few questions:
What are your goals?
What is your available equipment?
How much time/how many days do you have at your disposal?
How empty is your gym?
Let’s look at your goals first, shall we? If you want to be a large, thick, and in-charge bodybuilder, then each of the movements along this training session should be heavy, compound lifts. Stop at the squat rack and knock out squats, rows, deadlifts curls, and clean & press. On the other hand, if you are just looking to harden up, then the bulk of your training can be completed on the hammer strength or nautilus machines.
Next it’s time to see what equipment is at your disposal. If you train at home, there may only be one or two exercises available on your $99 Weider weight bench. However, if you train at a high-end commercial gym, then without a doubt you will have many more movements available for you to use. take advantage, and hit each muscle group with as much intensity and variation as humanly possible!
Planning for a home workout will be a little tougher, since you cannot vary the exercises up as much. However, if the convenience of equipment at home means you are then able to train 5 days a week instead of 3 (thanks to your busy schedule) then the trade-off will be more than worth it. Keep in mind that training circuit twice a week at the gym and twice a week at home is a great compromise.
Training at home also ensures you will never have to wait in line for gym equipment. Many people do consider circuit training in a crowded gym to be very selfish. You dominate a dozen machines, and you sure won’t be making friends anytime soon! However, training very late at night or very early in the morning can solve this problem, as there will be less people to offend with your “machine jumping”.
Are you ready to check out a sample circuit workout?
Bench Press 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Deadlifts 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Squats 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Shoulder military press 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Biceps curls 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Incline DB press 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Lying leg curls 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Overhand Chins 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Skull Crushers 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Seated crunches 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Lying leg raises 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Barbell rowing 1 set of 8 to 10 repetitions
Repeat 5 times today. Move immediately from machine to machine with the transit time being the only break time. Cut the repetitions to 6 to 8 if you want to build more muscle mass, or move them up to 10 to 16 reps if you are looking to get lean or if you are healing from an injury. if you have any muscle groups which have always lagged, consider tossing them an extra set on each circuit to ensure they receive some additional stimulation and grow to ‘keep up’ with the rest of your physique.
Good luck with your circuit training experience. It is a great method for hitting the entire body quickly in a very short amount of time!