by Samantha Clayton
Follow this balanced circuit training routine for a great full body workout that gets you the results you want, while limiting the possibility of overuse injuries.
Whatever your focus––be it improving your strength, cardiovascular fitness or endurance––you can benefit from doing weekly circuit training sessions.
Circuit training is a great way for people of all ability levels to exercise. Whether you’re new to exercising or a seasoned pro, you can use circuit training to help you improve your overall fitness level, and target and strengthen your trouble spots.
Circuit training involves performing lots of different exercises in one sequence. This makes it almost impossible to get bored during your session. Plus, because you get to set your own schedule, you can easily fit it into your day. Circuit training is also great because it allows you to squeeze in exercises that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Since you only have to do each move for a short amount of time, getting in some dreaded cardio or strength training work is a lot less daunting.
Here are a few simple tips to help you set up your circuit in a safe way that maximizes your time.
Choose Your Workout Duration
You can do a circuit that’s as long as 60 minutes, or as short as 5 minutes. Decide what amount of time will fit in with your personal schedule, while keeping in mind that the more intense training should be kept to a shorter duration.
Decide on Your Rest Time
You can do a continuous circuit, which is when you go from one exercise to the next without a rest until you have completed one full set. Or you can take a short rest after each exercise. The less rest you have in between exercises, the greater the challenge will be. However, having adequate rest between each full set of exercises is important, as it will allow you to work out at your very best. Base your rest times on your personal fitness level. As your fitness level improves, you will need less rest in between each exercise.
Choose Your Exercises
If you are doing a full-body circuit, try to include exercises that engage your largest muscle groups, such as legs, glutes, chest and back. Also, add in some stability-based moves that involve your core muscles, as well as some cardio. There are so many exercises to choose from, but a few of my favorites include squats, lunges, crunches, burpees, push-ups and jumping jacks.
The best way to organize your workout is to avoid using the same muscle groups back to back. Alternating between lower body, upper body and core exercises can help you to avoid overworking a particular muscle. When you’re doing a targeted circuit workout and focusing primarily on one area of the body, it’s still important to think about how your joints work and how to avoid over-stressing your body. The shoulder joint, for instance, can become easily stressed out, so avoiding doing exercises like planks, push-ups and mountain climbers all in one set is important. Try to ensure that each exercise that you choose engages your muscles in a different way. When it comes to organizing your routine, common sense will steer you in the right direction.
Number of Exercises
The great thing about circuit training is that you can choose to include as many or as few exercises as you wish. I believe that it’s best to set up a circuit that allows you to repeat it three times. Adequate repetition is important when exercising if you wish to get results. For example, if you have 15 minutes for exercise, choose five exercises that will allow you to do each for 45 seconds, and perform three full sets with adequate time to catch your breath in between sets.
Planning out your own circuit can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Though it takes a little bit of practice to design your own workouts, when you plan it out in advance and make sure it’s balanced, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own perfect trainer.