Yesterday morning I did my first round of circuit training.
I’m in pretty good shape and have been lifting weights regularly for a few years, so I figured the routine would be a challenge but not too exhausting. Fail. This thing kicked my ass. For those of you looking to build lean muscle, cut some fat, and avoid boredom in the gym, here’s something that might catch your eye. Want proof that it works? Daniel Craig did two days of circuit training a week to prepare for Casino Royale. Read about his full workout by clicking here. My theory is this: if it’s good enough for 007, it’s good enough for me.
Sounds good right? Alright, now let’s find out exactly what circuit training involves: essentially you’ll be doing one exercise per body part, in order, without stopping. Then, once you’re all the way through a cycle, you do it again. And then again. 3 full circuits without stopping.
This is what I did yesterday morning:
- Squats – 12 reps
- Lunges – 12 reps (if your legs are REALLY tired, doing squats and lunges could seriously hurt you if you’re not careful. In this case I’d recommend doing some machine leg exercises (12 reps of leg extensions, 12 reps of leg curls, and 12 calf raises instead).
- Incline Dumbbell Press – 12 reps
- Assisted Pull Ups – 12 reps
- Tricep Rope Pulldown – 12 reps
- Barbell Bicep Curl – 12 reps
- Lateral Shoulder Raise – 12 reps
- Jump rope for 60 seconds or do 50 jumping jacks
And that’s 1 circuit. You will do each exercise, with perfect form, and then move onto the next exercise immediately. You can only stop for water after you finish the circuit (after you jump rope or do your jumping jacks). Now, I cut the amount of weight I can normally lift by 25%, and I still had to stop a few times to get through this loop of exercises 3 times. If you can do it without stopping, you should be able to get through the routine in 30 minutes or less.
For Newbies: If you’re just starting out with fitness and trying to build muscle while losing fat, I’d recommend trying to get through one circuit, take a minute or two break, and then finish the rest of your routine normally. So, you would go through the WHOLE circuit once, and then you’d do a set of squats, wait a minute, do another set of squats, then move onto a set of lunges, wait a minute, do another set of lunges, then onto the next exercise. Build your way up to 3 full circuits, and work on getting through them without stopping.
Don’t have a gym membership? Try this modified circuit training routine using just your body weight This is more of an aerobic workout compared to a strength building routine, but it get’s the job done if you don’t have any weights to use:
The thing I love about circuit training is that there’s always room for improvement. You’re building muscles while also building up your stamina. Circuits will help turn you into a MACHINE. If you can do 3 circuits without stopping, add weight or try to do four circuits. Either way, you should be able to walk out of that gym, in 30-40 minutes, drenched in sweat and exhausted.
A few tips and tricks:
- If you’re going to do circuits, do them early in the morning or late at night. Don’t be an ass and tie up every machine/bench in the gym when everybody is waiting to use them.
- If you come back to a machine and somebody else is using it, don’t wait. Pick a different exercise that works the same muscle!
- Normally I recommend just free weights, but for circuits using certain machines is okay if you’re exhausted and worried about proper form. When possible, stick with free weights though, you’ll get much more out of it.
- Don’t do a full body circuit two days in a row. I’d say start with doing it once a week (along with your normal weight training and exercise), but space them apart so you don’t work the same muscle two days straight.
Be like Bond, become a machine!