Monday, February 7, 2011

Circuit Training: Efficiency in Achieving Your Personal Best!

Rick Lynch achieved his personal best in his 40's!!!

Wow! Amazing! Did he really do that in only six months? Did he take steroids? These are some of the most frequent comments and questions I hear when people see the before and after photos of my client Rick Lynch. Now what he accomplished in six months, completely naturally I must emphasize, is not typical of the results of most in that same time period. But Rick is not typical. He is an incredibly focused and goal oriented person. He trained incredibly hard in my studio, always giving 100% in every workout. He followed an incredibly healthy eating regimen and did not deviate from the meal plan I designed for him. And to get that lean ripped look, he trained exclusively in a circuit program for the last six weeks.

For most of my personal training clients, and all involved in the Body Blast and Intensity group programs, a well designed circuit is my fitness prescription of choice. A circuit is composed of a series of individual exercises. To execute the circuit, you move quickly from one to the other without any rest. The results come quickly and can be dramatic. I'll explain why.

  • First, you get a great cardiorespiratory workout. In fact, if executed properly without any rest between stations, the heart rate rises within minutes to a level that in a given duration burns the same amount of calories as jogging a 12 – minute mile! Pretty impressive, and as many of my clients have commented, potentially more exciting.
  • Second, when executing a resistance training exercise with the correct weight, you achieve improvements in both muscular strength and endurance. I like to make sure that the weight or resistance is such that it leads to fatigue within 16 -20 repetitions for the muscle(s) being worked. This leads to the development of lean body mass (muscle) while achieving a wonderful 'toned' effect.

The reason I love to use circuits is that in my observations I have always seen the best overall fitness results in the quickest time possible by combining the benefits of weight or resistance training along with cardio training. Not to say that I don't still use use the more traditional sets training approach – I do. For pure strength and muscle gains, they work well. But most of the clients I train are seeking weight loss, better endurance and good muscle tone. And circuits generally get them to their goal the fastest.

I have developed many different types of circuits over the years, dating back to my days in the army training soldiers and ROTC cadets. I use anywhere from three exercises, or 'tri-sets', which you you can watch an example of in the video below, to 10 or more exercises, which I commonly use in the Body Blast program. An approach I typically use as I set up a circuit is to have two weight training events back to back with antagonistic muscle groups (back and chest, biceps and triceps), followed by a core exercise (Crunch, Planks, Hyperextensions).

I think everyone can see improvements by including circuit training periodically in their fitness routine. Rick Lynch used them to help get his ripped and lean body. Even if you just add them for a little variety, as an old TV commercial said, “It does a body good!”

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