Circuit training is a workout style that involves progressing quickly from one movement to another in a series. The series is completed when you have done one set of each exercise. A metabolic circuit is one designed to target certain aspects of the body’s metabolism during exercise, usually in order to maximize the energy burned from carbohydrates and fats. Circuit training has also been shown to safely improve standards in muscular strength and endurance beyond traditional training alone.
How It Works
In standard resistance training, you would perform several sets of an exercise, often with lengthy rest periods, which tends to stress the phosphagen system and glycolysis, which are your energy systems associated with short bursts of strength and power. Metabolic circuits cut down on the rest time to maintain intensity with a higher volume of exercise, which works the slow glycolysis and oxidative systems responsible for endurance. This style of training continuously taxes your body for energy, which burns a lot of calories and results in significant positive changes in body composition and metabolism.
Finding Your Structure
There are many ways you can structure your circuit training to keep the intensity high and your metabolism rocketing. A popular approach is to use high-intensity intervals. For example, you could do 30 seconds of work at your maximum capacity, then rest for 15 seconds and continue to the next exercise. You could designate a certain number of reps, such as 12 repetitions of each movement, or ten of some and 20 of others. Try breaking your circuit into rounds by performing four or five movements with little rest, then taking a one minute break before the next round.
Circuits can be tailored to focus more or less on any part of the body, but metabolic circuits will work best by incorporating full-body exercises. The more muscles you use, the more energy and oxygen your body will require, creating a deficit that will burn calories during and after exercise. Thrusters and burpees are two great full-body motions that stimulate metabolism. You can still pick exercises that target certain muscles, so long as you choose the best variations. For instance, if you want to work your chest, do pushups, which integrate your core and legs, instead of bench presses.
The following is a metabolic circuit that requires only your body weight and a pull-up bar. There are three rounds with one minute breaks between each round. Perform each movement for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving on. Round one is pushups, hanging leg raises, alternating lunge jumps and Russian twists. Round two is burpees, side lunges, pull-ups and sit-ups. Round three is pushups, squat jumps, bear crawls and steam engines. As your strength and endurance improve, you can increase the work time, decrease rest time, do the circuit more than once or all of the above.
- NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition; Jared W. Coburn and Moh H. Malek
- DrLenKravitz.com: Resistance Training and EPOC
- PubMed.gov: Effects of High-Intensity Circuit Training, Low-Intensity Circuit Training and Endurance Training on Blood Pressure and Lipoproteins in Middle-Aged Overweight Men
- PubMed.gov: Mission Essential Fitness: Comparison of Functional Circuit Training to Traditional Army Physical Training for Active Duty Military
- PubMed.gov: Effects of Circuit-Based Exercise Programs on the Body Composition of Elderly Obese Women