During my days as a figure (fitness) competitor, I had never routinely performed circuits in the gym. I had performed much of my workouts more in traditional 'bodybuilding' fashion as the main goal was aesthetics and muscle hypertrophy (growth). After deciding to take a breather from the stage, I knew I was no longer in the business of gaining muscle but rather, maintaining a fit and lean and healthy (!) physique. I have found in my research and own experimentation that circuits have helped me do just that.
Circuit-style training is an efficient way to target multiple body parts and muscle groups in one workout, thereby revving your metabolism. They require a lot more expended energy than traditional cardio/weight lifting exercises. The best part of circuit training is it often involves very little/no equipment, and you don't need to be in a gym! They can be done anywhere- which is a huge bonus in today's hectic and unpredictable lifestyles.
The following circuit is one that I have created that is challenging and works all areas of the body. I would perform this typically once/week along with my usual weight training to 'shock' my body and burn some extra calories.
Total Body Blast Circuit
60 sec treadmill sprint (I run at 9.0 mph on a 2% incline)*
20 jumping split squats
20 decline push-ups with Bosu ball
60 sec treadmill sprint
20 sumo squats
60 sec treadmill sprints
40 mountain climbers
20 up & overs with balance ball
20 scissor kicks
Beginners: perform one round
Intermediate: perform 2-3 rounds
Advanced: perform 3-4 rounds, without breaks
*if you don't have access to a treadmill, you may replace with 60 seconds of high knees, jump rope, or running on the spot.
I like to time myself when performing circuits as it makes it like a game- a competition with myself! Give this a try, and challenge yourself!!
60 Second Sprint
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If no access to a treadmill, substitute with 60 seconds of high knees/jump rope/running in one spot[/caption]
20 Jumping Split Squats
With either leg forward, begin in lunge position: front leg is at 90 degrees, opposite leg is behind without your knee touching the floor, posture is upright. Driving your weight through the heel of your front foot, jump straight up switching feet mid-air. Land with opposite leg forward and other leg behind: mirroring the start position. Repeat 20 times or, 10/leg.
20 Decline Pushups with Bosu Ball
This an advanced form of pushups that places further emphasis on the upper chest and front deltoids (shoulder muscles) as well as utilizing your core strength for balance on the Bosu ball.
Place Bosu ball on the floor, rubber side up. With a floor mat/towel for your hands, get into pushup position: hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, feet on the Bosu ball (may go on knees if you wish), back is straight. Keeping your core engaged, lower your upper body to the floor. Once your elbows have hit 90 degrees (highest point of resistance), push yourself back up to start position. Repeat 20 times.
60 second sprint
Burpees are a dreaded, love/hate move- often used in circuit training. It is a total-body move in itself, involving the upper body, lower body, and core strength: a very efficient calorie burner!
Starting in upright standing position, jump straight up into the air. Land by bending down and the knees, and placing hands slightly than shoulder-width apart. Kick legs back behind you, assuming a pushup position.
Perform a pushup: keeping your back straight, core engaged, elbows at 90 degrees. At the highest point of resistance, push yourself back up to start position. Keeping your hands on the floor, hop both feet towards your upper body. Bending at the knees, return to standing upright (start) position. Repeat 20 times.
20 Sumo Squats
Start with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward at 45 degrees. Keeping your posture upright, chest up, knees pointing in the direction of your toes, bend at the knees to lower your glutes down into sitting/squat position. Thighs should be parallel to the floor. Driving your body weight through your heels, return to start position. Repeat 20 times.
60 Second Sprints
40 Mountain Climbers
This is primarily a lower body move that requires upper body and core strength in order to maintain balance.
Start in elevated plank position: hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, shoulders are parallel to the floor; back is aligned with your hips; hips elevated; balancing legs on your toes/balls of your feet. Keeping your upper body and core engaged, drive either leg as close you can to your chest, while the opposite leg stays to the floor. Quickly return leg to start position. Repeat with other leg. Repeat sequence 40 times/20 each leg.
20 'Up & Overs' with Balance Ball
This is abdominal exercise with a descriptive title involving the upper and lower abs. The demonstration will explain the name ;)
Begin by laying on a floor mat or towel. Start by placing the balance ball between both feet. While holding the ball between your feet, with a slight bend in your knees raise your legs upwards. Ensure your lower back stays flush to the floor.
As the ball is raised, engage your upper abs and lift your shoulder blades off the floor. Reach towards the ball. Once the ball has been transferred from feet to hands, lower upper and lower body simultaneously. Engaging upper and lower abdominals, lifting up by your shoulder blades, and raising legs upwards, return the ball to your feet. Repeat sequence 20 times.
20 Scissor Kicks
This is a 'burnout' move (meant to be performed quickly), involving the lower abdominals.
Begin laying on a floor mat/towel. Place hands below your lower back/glutes for support. Tuck your chin into your chest. Slightly raise legs up off the floor: approximately 30 degrees. Ensure your lower back stays supported.
Maintaining the angle of your legs, bring your feet out wider than hip width. Return feet towards each other, crossing either foot over top the other.
Return feet wide; repeat sequence with opposite foot crossing over the other. Repeat sequence 20 times in total.
This is a lengthy circuit in which I recommend trying one round on the first attempt. Depending on your conditioning, you then may want to challenge yourself and perform several rounds. Enjoy your workout!!