Let’s face it, there are times when we just can’t get to the gym for a workout. Maybe you have a little one at home, or have a tight schedule, or you simply don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of a busy gym and having to fight the crowds that always seem to grow as the new year comes around.
Sounds like the perfect time to consider adding circuit training to your at-home routine!
Circuit training is not only a fun way to get your workout in, but can also be one of the most productive workouts. The options are virtually limitless when it comes to designing a circuit-type workout. Not only can you get a great workout in by simply utilizing your own body weight, but by also incorporating some inexpensive at-home equipment. Include some resistance bands, kettlebells and medicine balls, and you’ll never get bored and the “I have no time” excuse can never be used!
For those not totally familiar with circuit training, it involves putting together a series (circuit) of exercises that you can perform one after another with little to no rest between exercises. The minimal rest between exercises is an important part of the workout because you purposely don’t want your body to achieve complete recovery during the circuit.
Some of the key benefits to circuit training include:
- Time efficient – circuits can be short yet very effective.
- Works the entire body – depending on how you design your circuit, you can easily achieve a total body workout
- Improves conditioning and muscular endurance – by constantly moving from one exercise to another, your heart rate will stay up and your muscle endurance will improve.
- build muscle AND lose weight depending on the exercises used
- Eliminates the need for separate cardio and strength equipment.
- You can do these types of workouts virtually anywhere….at home, on the road, at the gym, outside, etc.
- They’re great to do with a workout partner.
- They can be a FUN way to work out!
There are many ways to design a circuit, which makes this type of training a perfect companion to your weight loss and strength training efforts. While there is no “best” circuit workout, a well-designed circuit will be one built around your particular fitness level and goals. When choosing your exercises, you should include a mixture of:
- Resistance exercises to help build valuable calorie-consuming muscle
- Metabolic exercises that will increase your heart rate and help you burn calories throughout the day
- High intensity and low intensity exercises that will allow you to push through the workout
There is no magic number of exercises to include when designing a circuit. While most may consist of 6-12 exercises, it’s totally up to you and what you want to accomplish in that day’s workout. You could pick 12 exercises and perform one set of each with no rest between. You could choose 6 exercises and go through the circuit 4 times. Circuit workouts can be intense and short (12-15 minutes), or they can be as long as 45-60 minutes.
As you can see, the variables are limitless so, while it may seem confusing, keep in mind the main point is to do more work in less time than you would in a normal gym session.
Ready to give circuit training a shot? Here are some workouts to help get you started…..
(a stopwatch or a timer app on your phone can come in handy when circuit training)
Circuit #1 – 12 Minute Bodyweight
Perform the following 6 exercises for 30 seconds each with little to no rest between exercises. Once you complete a full circuit, rest one minute before repeating for 4 total rounds.
Side Plank – Right
Side Plank – Left
Alternate Lunges w/ Overhead Reach
Circuit #2 – Bodyweight Build & Burn
Perform the following 6 exercise for 30 seconds each or pick a rep range (12-20) for each exercise with little to no rest between exercises. Once you complete a full circuit, rest one minute before repeating for 3-4 total rounds.
Circuit #3 – Bands, Bells, & Balls
Perform the following circuit utilizing a med ball, resistance bands, and a kettlebell for 30 seconds each or pick a rep range (12-20) for each exercise with little to no rest between exercises. Once you complete a full circuit, rest one minute before repeating for 2-3 total rounds
Band Chest Press
Band Seated Row
Med Ball Slams
Band Shoulder Press
Med Ball Climbers
Circuit #4 – Bands, Bells and Balls
Perform each group of exercises in a 20 seconds on/ 10 seconds off format. Once you complete 1 group, rest for 1 minute before moving on to the next group. Perform each group for 1-2 total rounds.
Group 1 – Bands
Group 2 – Kettlebell
Single Leg RDL – R
Single Leg RDL – L
Overhead Step Back Lunge – R
Overhead Step Back Lunge – L
Group 3 – Med Ball
Cradle Squat Hops
Seated Russian Twists
Side to Side Slams
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.