Circuit training is like hitting two birds with one stone. A typical circuit includes performing strength-training workouts at a high pace for aerobic fitness benefits. Circuit training is the most effective way to build muscles and improve cardio fitness, which makes it ideal for those who are overweight. Completing a circuit is no easy feat, as there is little or no rest between workouts, which means some level of fitness is required.
Preparing for Circuit Training
Jumping right into a circuit training workout is not ideal for those who live a sedentary lifestyle. It is unlikely that you will be able to complete a circuit without getting your body in better shape. Condition your body with the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise daily. This can include brisk walking, cycling or walking up a flight of stairs. Stimulate muscle growth with one or two strength-training sessions a week that include compound exercise such as the bench press, squats, deadlifts and pull-ups.
A More Effective Circuit
Some circuit training programs are better for building muscles while others are more effective for losing weight. A study published in 2007 in “The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” investigated the physiological responses to two different circuit training programs. The researchers found that circuit training that combines treadmill runs and weight training burns more calories than circuit training with weights alone.
An Intense Circuit
Begin a circuit workout with 10 repetitions of squats, deadlifts and the leg press without resting between sets. Run or cycle for two to three minutes at a fast pace then cool down for an additional one minute. Perform 10 repetitions of pull-ups, pushups and bicep curls in sequence without resting and perform another two to three minutes of fast pace cardio. Continue this circuit for about 20 to 25 minutes. You can mix up the exercises, as long as you engage all your major muscle groups. Aim to perform a circuit training session twice a week, while maintaining the American Heart Association’s recommendation.
You Are What You Eat
A high-calorie diet may counter-act all the effort you put in the gym, if your eating habits stop you from creating a calorie deficit. To ensure you burn more calories than you eat, purge all processed foods and stick to a diet of whole foods. Incorporate a variety of vegetables and fruit to each meal and get your protein from seafood or lean meat. Eat 100 calories worth of nuts, seeds or oats between meals for nutrients and protein.