One of my favorite training styles to help clients lose weight and build muscle is circuit training.
Circuit training is performing a series of exercises in rotation with minimal rest. Full body circuits train big muscle groups with strength and dynamic movements that burn lots of calories. Bigger muscles require more energy to move and train, hence more calories burned.
These types of workouts get the benefits of high intensity interval training by elevating your metabolism to fat burning levels and also helps you take advantage of the after burn effect that burns calories up to 48 hours after your workout.
“By utilizing strength exercises into your circuit, you can increase strength and build muscle while you burn fat.”
Working out the same old way can get boring fast not to mention ineffective. By utilizing circuit training you can add variety to your workout and not die of boredom. It’s also a great way to do a lot of work in a little amount of time.
In this post I’m going to give you 2 Full Body Circuit Workouts with multiple variations so that you can find one that works for you. There are enough variations, so that you can advance the workouts as your fitness levels improve.
Because I know you can’t make it to the gym all the time but still need to workout, I’ve included a Body Weight Circuit that you can do anywhere. All you need is enough room to do a pushup and maybe a towel to wipe sweat.
But before we get to the workouts, there are a couple things we need to address.
Full body workouts are definitely challenging when it comes to avoiding complete fatigue. In order to keep you moving, the exercises are designed to train non competing body parts. This allows the previously worked muscle group to recover while another one is being worked. In this case, we will alternate an upper body exercise, lower body exercise, and a core exercise.
The Globo Gym
If you train in a globo gym, it may be difficult to occupy multiple pieces of equipment required for different exercises. Be sure to take the appropriate measures in order for you to perform the workouts effectively. This might mean claiming some equipment, territory, and benches.
Although intensity is important, make sure it is appropriately applied. Don’t charge all out on the first round and fail to complete the second and third. At the same time, remember that as your fitness level improves your intensity needs to equally increase. Your body adapts quickly, keep providing the stimulus to see results.
When To Use Circuit Training
Perform these workouts a 1-3 times a week but not consecutively. They take a heavy toll on the body and you need to give your body the appropriate amount of recovery.
Okay that’s enough talk, Here are the 2 Full Body Circuits.
Body Weight Full Body Circuit
In each circuit, complete each exercise for the set amount of reps in order. You will have a 10 second break, just long enough for you to transition to the next exercise. Complete 2-3 rounds of each circuit. Once you complete 1 circuit, rest 2-3 minutes before starting the next circuit. (click on exercises with links for a video demo on the Reign Fitness Youtube Channel
***Note: If you are just getting back into circuit training from a strength training program or you are just starting, scale back the amount of reps and give yourself 15 seconds of recovery time between each exercise. Also, try not to go all out on the first round. Get comfortable with the pace or else you may be done after one round.
1d. V Sits x 15-20 reps
2d. Single Leg Deadllifts toe touch x 15-20 reps
2e. Plank To Push x 15-20 reps
Single Leg Deadlifts Toe Touch Demo Picture
Increase Strength and Lean Muscle with Exercise Progressions
Build muscle and increase strength with exercise progressions that are difficult to perform. However, make sure to lower the amount of reps that you perform for each exercise to 8-12 reps or increase time to 45-50 seconds. Follow the work to rest times below.
45 seconds of work = 15 seconds of break
50 seconds of work = 10 seconds of break
Sample Body Weight Full body Circuit w/progressions
1b. Walkout + Pushups
1e. Front To Back Lunges
If you are worried about the reps…
If the rep range with the exercise list concerns you, ditch the reps and work for time. This way you can focus on working at your own level first and then progress up to the reps. Follow the time chart below but maintain only a 10 sec break in between each exercise.
Level 1 = 20-25 seconds of work
Level 2 = 30-35 seconds of work
Now here is the full body circuit for a gym workout.
Performing circuits like this is a lot easier when the gym is fairly empty and you don’t have to worry about people taking over your equipment. I would recommend getting all your stations set up and close together in proximity to help with the flow of the circuit since you will want to perform all the exercises in order with only a 10-30 second break in between.
In The Gym Full Body Circuit
Directions: In each circuit, complete each exercise for the set amount of reps in order. You will have a 10-20 second break, just long enough for you to transition to the next exercise and catch your breath. Complete 2-3 rounds of each circuit. Once you complete 1 circuit, rest 2-3 minutes before starting the next circuit.
1a. Kettlebell Goblet Squat/Dumbbell Goblet/Barbell Back Squat x 15-20 reps
1b. Dumbbell Flat Bench Press or Pushups x 15-20 reps
1c. Dumbbell Lunges x 15-20 reps
1d. Leg Raises x 15-20 reps
1e. Bent Row (Barbell or Dumbbell) x 15-20 reps
2a. Incline Dumbbell Press (Dumbbell or Barbell) x 15-20 reps
2b. Weighted V Sits x 15-20 reps
2c. Pull-ups or Lat Pulldown x 15-20 reps
2d. Standing Military Press x 15-20 reps
2e. Barbell Deadlifts x 15-20 reps
Increase Strength & Build More Muscle
If your looking to increase strength and add more muscle, lower the rep range from 15-20 to 8-15 and add more recovery time in between the exercises. Recovery time will go up to 30 seconds for moderate weight and 40 seconds for heavy weight. You will have to adjust the weight accordingly to the rep range as well. Although circuit training can help you with strength and muscle gains, it may not be the most effective program for you if they are your primary goals.
Reading about circuit training is a lot different then going out and getting it done. Go give it a try. Be creative as you incorporate more circuits into your training by mixing up exercises, adding progressions and variations, and working your weak links.
Also, stick with it long enough for you to see progress.
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