Circuit training is one of the training systems that you perform at least 5 exercises back to back with no or little rest in between. You take the prescribed rest after finishing all exercises in a circuit or as a long set.
Circuit training has many benefits and advantages: saving workout time, reducing risk of injuries and breaking training plateau by cross training and changing up training routines. It can be used in the mesocycle as part of the whole periodization training program.
If organized and performed properly, circuit training can be effective in any programs for building muscles, losing fat and really shaping up your body. It is one of the most efficient training systems to help you tone up muscles, fire up your fat burning furnace, and reveal your six-pack abs.
In an earlier article, I have covered the concept of circuit training and explained what it is, what it's not for and how to do it. I also provide the guidelines for designing a circuit training program.
Several circuit training sample routines are demonstrated using bodyweight, strength machines, barbells and dumbbells. "Timed" strength machine and Smith-machine based circuit workout routines are also given.
In the following, I'll demonstrate a upper-body strength circuit training routine based on Cybex cable stations. There are many other fitness equipment manufacturers that market similar machines and systems. This strength circuit training routine can be used to complement other weight training or circuit training routines using other types of resistance.
It's a great principle of fitness training by mixing up mult-joint compound exercises with single-joint isolation exercises. Another tip is to work the full range of motion, all three planes (vertical, horizontal and rotational) and push/pull joint actions.
The Cybex Crossover Station has two vertical towers on two independent pulley systems. The pulleys are adjustable between high and low positions. One can perform various unilateral or bilateral exercises by pulling the cable(s) against the weight stacks. It normally has handles or grips on the top beam running across the two towers where you can do pullups, chinups or hanging leg/knee raises.
Cybex Modular System has several exercise stations centered around a tower or column. It may have a unit for weight-assisted pullup, chinup or dip, a unit for pressdown or pulldown exercises, a cable seated rowing unit, an adjustable bench for situp or reverse situp and a unit for back extension.
Cable Station Based Circuit Training Routine -
Upper Body Push/Pull
Cable Chest Press to Fly x 8 - 12 reps
Cable Overhead Shoulder Press x 8 -12 reps
Kneeling Cable Crunch x 15 - 20 reps
Dip (bodyweight) x 8 -15 reps
Triceps Pressdown x 8 - 12 reps
Biceps Curl x 8 -12 reps
Lat Pulldown x 8 -12 reps
Seated Low Row x 8 -12 reps
Rest for 90 seconds to 2 minutes.
Repeat for a total of 2 to 4 circuits.
You can also change the order of the exercises or vary the repetitions in subsequent circuits. The accumulated training effect is different. You'll feel different intensity of tension on your muscles.
Remember that circuit training is not meant for replacing your regular weight training program. This is not a complete upper-body weight training routine. The idea is to group the exercises and workout stations so that you can effectively train most upper-body muscles.
In addition, go to gym at a less crowded time when you're able to use different exercise units in a circuit fashion. If you're interrupted, it defeats the benefits of circuit training: time and efficiency.
At the end of your circuit training, you should feel racing heart beat and breathe heavier. You know your metabolism is firing up and your fat burning furnace is cranking hard.
This is the best time to finish up your workout by doing 15 minutes of high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T.) cardio exercise on any cardio machine to burn off your body fat!
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