But that’s a tall order, and there’s a lot of bases to cover. For one, there’s the task of getting your heart rate up and running for regular sessions throughout the week, to stimulate calorie burning, initiate fat break-down, strengthen your cardiovascular system and trigger the release of hormones that increase your metabolism. Then there’s the need to develop your body’s very best fat-combusting machinery – your muscles. The more muscle tissue you have in your body, the more calories and fat your body burns all day and all night long, while beautifully tightening and toning your entire physique. That’s why the old school method of exercise once called for long sessions of heart-racing cardio exercise followed by long sessions of strength training.
And then came circuit training. You can think of circuit training like a cardo-strength training mash-up, squeezing both benefits into a single, shorter and more intense exercise session that not only takes less time to do, but could also actually improve your results. Here’s why:
4 Reasons Circuit Training Accelerates Fat Loss:
- Circuit Training involves High Intensity Intervals. This training style involves alternating back and forth between short periods of high intensity exercise that sets your heart rate racing and short periods of lower intensity exercise that allows your heart rate to come down a bit and recover. Scientific research has consistently found that high intensity interval training burns significantly more body fat in less time than steady state cardio exercises, like jogging on a treadmill for the same amount of time. This is because it creates an after-burn effect that causes an extended metabolic spike, burning calories hours after the workout is complete. Steady-state cardio, on the other hand, has almost no after-burn effect at all. It also naturally boosts both testosterone and growth hormone levels that are responsible for muscle gain and fat loss, helping to guarantee that you keep the weight off in the long run.
- Circuit Training typically highlights Functional Exercises. Functional exercises are full body exercises that challenge several different muscle groups simultaneously and that mimic everyday patterns of movement. They use more energy, involve more muscle groups, and challenge your balance, flexibility, and other aspects that help you burn more calories and move better in everyday life, while also helping you avoid common injuries.
- Circuit Training typically involves Shorter Exercise Sessions. Umm…yes please! And in addition to saving your time, studies have shown that shorter and more intense exercise is more effective in retaining muscle mass and preventing muscle loss. As muscles are one of your most highly active body tissues when it comes to around-the-clock calorie burning, making sure that you retain all of the muscles that you have been working so hard to develop in the first place is critical.
- Circuit Training is Ideal for Beginners. Total-body circuit training is ideal for beginner exercisers because it challenges all of the muscle groups without overstraining any particular muscle, and helps to prepare the entire body for more advanced forms of exercise down the road.
What is Total-Body Circuit Training
Total-Body circuit training is when you line up several (typically 6 or more) exercise “stations” that tap into all of the major muscle groups of your body, and you perform these exercises one after another, taking very little rest time between each exercise before moving on to the next one. Then, once you get through the entire circuit of exercises, you start again from the top. Typically, you aim to complete the entire circuit 3 times in one workout session.
Each exercise in the circuit should work a different muscle group, and ideally, a lot of the exercises will work more than one muscle group at a time. In a total-body circuit training session, you want to make sure that all of your muscle groups get hit in a single workout. In a 30 to 45 minute workout session, you should be able to complete an entire fat-blasting, high intensity workout that challenges all of the muscles in your body while also getting your heart pumping.
3 Things to Remember When Circuit Training:
- Take OFF Days. It’s very important that you don’t total-body circuit train every single day. Ideally, do it every SECOND day. Taking an “off” day in between circuit training sessions allows the muscle groups you’ve worked to have a day off to rebuild, and it’s this rebuilding process that creates muscle growth and metabolic acceleration. It’s the REST day between strength training days when your muscles actually rebuild and boost your metabolism – so don’t skip it!
- Switch It Up. It’s also important to not get trapped in doing the exact same circuit training routine over and over again. If you keep doing the same workout routine from session to session, your muscles adapt and you may stop seeing results. You could also wind up overtraining particular muscles while undertraining others.
- Warm Up & Stretch. Don’t forget to do at least a five minute warm up and cool down before and after your workouts. This prepares your body for exercise, improves your performance and minimizes injuries. Good, simple warm-ups include 5 minutes of jogging on the spot, jumping jacks, skipping rope (or skipping without a rope), alternating knee lifts, arm circles and front-and-back leg swings, etc. Also, take 5 minutes at some point in your day for some stretching.
Try this Total-Body Exercise Circuit RIGHT NOW and Start Losing Weight!
You can do this total-body circuit workout at the gym or in your home. All you need is 3 or 4 progressively heavier sets of dumbbells and a chair.
Perform the following exercises one after another, resting no more than 10 to 20 seconds between each exercise. Once you have completed the entire circuit, rest 1 minute and then begin the circuit again from the top. Repeat the entire circuit 3 times. This should take about 30 minutes in total.
Look up images or videos on the internet for any exercises that you are not familiar with and want to see an example of. Modifications to either simplify or intensify each exercise are offered here for each exercise in the circuit. When you first begin this workout, start with lighter weights and easier modifications. Then, as you progress, get stronger and perfect your form, continually challenge yourself by attempting the more difficult modifications and by increasing the weights you use.
Fat-Blasting Total-Body Circuit Workout
Exercise 1: Squats – 10 reps.
Simplify: Perform box squats on a bench or chair. Turn your toes outward at a 45 degree angle.
Challenge: Perform jump squats.
Exercise 2: Lunges – 10 reps, each leg.
Simplify: Hold on to the back of a chair with one hand as you lunge, and/or perform a shallow lunge so that your back knee is at an angle that is greater than 90 degrees.
Challenge: Perform lunges while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
Exercise 3: Dumbbell Shoulder Press (in a chair with back support) – 10 reps.
Simplify: Use light weights, or curl your fingers into fists and hold no dumbbells at all.
Challenge: Use heavier weights.
Exercise 4: Tricep Dips (with the palms of your hands on the seat of a chair or bench) – 10 reps.
Simplify: Sit on the floor with your feet firmly on the ground in front of you and your knees pointing up to the ceiling. Place your palms on the floor behind your bum, with your fingers facing forward, and then slide your palms back about 1 foot away from your bum. With your bum still on the floor, lean the weight of your torso back into your palms. From this position, perform each modified tricep dip by bending your elbows downwards, and then straightening your elbows back up. Only your elbows should be moving during the exercise.
Challenge: Perform the tricep dip with the palms of your hands on the seat of a chair or bench, and the heels of your feet placed on the seat of another chair or bench.
Exercise 5: Dumbbell Bicep Curls – 10 reps.
Simplify: Use light weights, or curl your fingers into fists and do not use dumbbells.
Challenge: Use heavier weights.
Exercise 6: Dumbbell Cross Chops – 10 reps, each side.
Simplify: Perform without a dumbbell.
Challenge: Use a heavier dumbbell.
***Perform this circuit 3 times to complete 1 workout. ***