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Circuit Training Fundamentals:

ADAM FRIEDMAN

SPECIAL TO THE MIRROR

If you are looking for a way to ignite your metabolism, progress your training, challenge yourself, and have fun doing it, then Circuit Training may be the activity you are looking for. For many of us, our common workout regimen has been to separate the different components of exercise, like weight training and cardio.

The standard workout routine for most consists of performing one type of resistance exercise at a time, done with a number of sets, and reps, with recovery in between before moving on to the next exercise. Resistance training is then followed by a mode of cardiovascular training for a specific duration and intensity. This is a regular workout for most, which does produce great results.

However, after a while of doing the same routine, the body says “Ho-Hum…z-z-z-z-z-z-z” because it has adapted fairly well to that predictable flow. This can cause the body to fall into a stagnant state, minimizing the potential to reach your goal.

But change it up, and keep your body and mind on its toes if you want to see results. Depending on your physical needs, exercise history, and goals, you should be switching up your routine every two to four weeks. This will be highly beneficial to the improvement in strength, conditioning, growth of lean tissue, and the reduction of fat.

To move into high gear, the method that I like to incorporate into the training of my clients, both athletes and non-athletes, is circuit training. It is a powerful workout that consists of a series of pre-determined exercises done consecutively with only a moment (around 10 seconds) in between to position your self for the next exercise.

The objective is to dynamically challenge the body to handle various modes and intensities. It may be the X-Factor that creates change in your body’s conditioning and aesthetics. However, circuit training is of a much higher intensity and more demanding nature than a standard workout. So, as with an automobile, your body can’t maintain operating in high gear for an extended period before it begins to break down.

Circuit training is a favorite workout of mine for many reasons. First, it is a guaranteed way to speed up my metabolism, which enhances my body’s ability to burn more body fat. Second, it is a real effective way to maximize a period of time, by allowing me to incorporate multiple exercises that can improve my muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and athletic prowess. Third, there are so many exercise and movement possibilities in the design of a Circuit workout. It allows for the creativity of fresh routines to accomplish a variety of objectives and goals. This also supports having a solid progression over a period of time.

The constant objective is to have fun challenging the body dynamically, and to stimulate the metabolic system to kick into high gear. This, overtime, can greatly contribute to attaining a lean and athletic body.

It is important to know that circuit training is not meant to be done for more than a couple weeks at a time, because like any other training method, your body adapts and can becomes stale or can cause breakdown if there are no planned time-periods of progression. If your goal is to be lean, fit, and athletic, I recommend you incorporate two weeks of Circuit Training every six to eight weeks.

However, if you are more likely to stay consistent with your workouts by doing circuit training, then it is important to periodically manipulate the exercises, sets, reps, recovery, and intensity. This will help to create a different stimulus for your body to progress, without the repetitive stress.

What you use for equipment depends on your available resources. Finding a safe space is also an important consideration when putting together a circuit workout. Some gyms are designed with circuit training in mind, while others are not. Outdoor circuit training on a rubber or grass surface is the most likely to be safe. In regards to footwear, we recommend cross-training shoes especially if any lateral movements are involved.

The circuit is based upon a pre-determined work-to-rest ratio to allow for proper overload on the muscular and cardiovascular system, and keep a sensible flow to the routine. It can be 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, or 1:5 depending on the objective of the workout, and the intensity of the movements. Each workout should fall into one of these categories:

• Low Intensity — High Volume — Long Duration (40-50 min)

• Moderate Intensity — Moderate Volume — Moderate Duration (30-40 min)

• High Intensity — Low Volume — Short Duration (20-30 min)

• (The three categories should be rotated through out a period of one to two weeks.)

The number of days each week to circuit train depends on the goals, volume, and intensity of each Circuit workout. That is why it is important to plan out the volume and intensity of each workout. Ideally there should not be two of the same volume, and intensity two days in a row. A beginner may do two circuits per week, intermediate can do three days per week, and advanced can do four days per week.

The number of exercises can range from 3-15. Therefore, you can choose to keep it simple or make it more complex. I prefer to incorporate a number of exercises that are combination/complex movements that engage the body as a whole unit to maximize the time, body coordination (functional movement), and energy output.

Some combination/complex exercise examples are: cleans, snatches, burpees, bicep curl into a shoulder press, medicine ball throws, etc. Each exercise has a point of emphasis on a particular area of the body during the combination movement, while the rest of the body gets to be the beneficiary. It’s a Win-Win!

Each exercise can be performed based on a specific number of reps or a set amount of time. The speed of the movements depend on the level of intensity of the workout. After completing the entire sequence of exercises, you can either take a 1-2 minute rest, or start over immediately if your conditioning allows for it.

Where you take your Circuit Workout is up to you. Just remember to keep it safe, and have fun!

Adam Friedman, CSCS, CN, CMT is a Kinesiologist, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Nutritionist, and Certified Massage Technician. He is the founder of Advanced Athletics, Inc. located right next door to the world famous Gold’s Gym in Venice, on the corner of Sunset Ave, and Hampton Drive, one block east of Main Street. To schedule a complimentary assessment please call 310.396.2100 or email Adam at info@advancedathletics.com. Otherwise, to learn more, visit www.advancedathletics.com.

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