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Strength Circuits: Benefits and examples…

There are a multitude of benefits to circuit training, other than squeezing a helluva lot of work in to a small window of time, aka, efficiency! Circuits are fabulous fat burners due to the number of muscles being recruited (muscles burn fat. Better muscles burn MORE fat – during and post exercise. See EPOC effect)

The criteria of Circuits:

+ A number of exercises, generally 6 – 12, which you attack in rapid succession with no more than 30 seconds rest in-between

+ Reps range from the usual 8 – 20 and performed at around 40 – 60% of your max

+ Circuits can be full-body (mix of upper and lower), lower focused, upper focused, free-weights, bodyweight, cardio, cardio and free-weights… you get the picture

Circuits aren’t really for those looking to build size and strength, it’s for those looking to get lean and improve muscular strength and endurance (which creates better definition, of course) – it’s much more about functionality than Hypertrophy (getting mahoosive). It will help you carry more shopping up that flight of stairs (shoes and what not…) without turning purple.

Here’s a Lower Body Circuit that Killer Kat, a feared training partner, blessed me with yesterday:

4 x Rounds…

  1. 15 Kettlebell Goblet Squat

  2. 20 Jumping Lunges

  3. 15 Kettlebell Sumo Squat

  4. 10 Dumbbell Step-Ups, Right leg

  5. 10 Dumbbell Step-Ups, Left leg

  6. 15 Kettlebell Deadlift

  7. 20 Hip-Thrust (feet elevated on bench)

  8. 10 Single Leg Hip Thrust, Right leg

  9. 10 Single Leg Hip Thrust, Left leg

As you can see, the quads, glutes, hammies, adductors (inner thighs) and calves are dealt with here – so this is a pretty thorough lower body circuit. Generally speaking, in order for you to not fail before the finish line and complete all the sets and reps assigned, I do suggest each exercise focuses on a different muscle or at least a difference part of the same muscle, than the one before it. You could do an entirely Core circuit quite successfully this way:

Each exercise is 30 seconds with 30 seconds break after every two exercises. Repeat the Circuit 3-4 times…

  1. 180 Jumps (Jump and turn to face the other direction, landing with soft knees)

  2. Sit-ups

  3. Knee crunches (One leg forward and bent, other leg back and straight. Arms in the air, drive back knee up in to the stomach as you bring arms down. Swap legs…)

  4. Standing oblique crunches (Feet and knees pointing out, fingertips behind ears. Bend to one side brining elbow down and knee up, then back and same other side)

  5. Mountain climbers

  6. Crunches

  7. Moguls (Jump and twist your lower body one way and the upper the opposite way, then come back to centre and do the same the other way)

  8. Dish hold (Lying on your back, eyes on ceiling, shoulder blades off floor, arms and legs off the ground)

If being lean and lithe is your goal then I suggest doing two different circuits per week and as you can see from the above, there is no exact science behind the best circuit, it’s whichever is best and manageable for you. So, sew together the moves you know best and give it a go!

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