The number of weight-training workout options resembles the selections on the menu at your favorite restaurant: plenty. Circuit-training is a way to organize your weight-lifting session. You save time, get a full-body workout and burn calories. It's also a way to reduce the boredom that comes from doing the same routine week after week.
Quick and Efficient
A characteristic that separates circuit training from other workout programs is that you perform one set of every exercise before repeating a second or third set. You select eight to 10 exercises, known as stations, for your major muscle groups including your chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs and core. The goal with your circuit is to move quickly from one exercise to the next, keeping the rest time between the stations as short as possible.
Leaps and Bounds
If you're searching for strength gains, you could find results with a circuit workout. According to Dr. Len Kravitz at the University of New Mexico, strength gains between 7 and 32 percent have been found in those performing circuit-training routines. You'll also burn approximately five to six calories each minute if you are female and eight to nine calories per minute if you are male. The combination of calories burned and increased muscle tissue improves your fat-free mass, helps you lose weight and tones your body.
Your circuit-training workout can be performed at home or at the gym. It's best when you set up your stations before you exercise, so you have the necessary equipment at hand. For example, use dumbbells for arm curls, arm extensions and shoulder presses, and use a barbell for squats, deadlifts, calf raises, chest presses and back rows. Perform each exercise for eight to 20 repetitions, depending on your workout goals. Repeat the circuit two or three times.
When you circuit train, use a resistance amount that tires your muscles by the final two repetitions. Increase the resistance as your strength improves so you continue to see and feel results. For example, if you perform 12 biceps curls and feel as if you could do two more repetitions, increase the resistance on your second time through the circuit. Again, it is important keep rest intervals to a minimum-- this is one of the characteristics of circuit training.