Ok, so if you're reading this article you probably already know that you need to exercise more to be truly healthy. However, you may not know what type of exercise you should be doing. There are a lot of different exercise options and styles and despite what most people think, there aren't really superior or inferior training methods. This is because each training style has a goal outcome behind it. Someone who wants to get brutally strong is going to follow a totally different training regimen than a person preparing for a marathon. The training style is based on what you're looking to achieve with your workouts. That being said if your goal is to get healthier overall, maybe lose some weight, and add some healthy lean muscle mass then this will be a great article for you.
Today I want to talk to you about circuit training. It's been around for quite a while and has been used in everything from aerobics classes, to CrossFit, to P90-X. This is not without reason either. Circuit training, if performed correctly is a very effective way to workout with minimal time investment and maximum results. Now that I've mentioned it a few times, what exactly is circuit training? Circuit training is when you rotate different exercises in successive order during the workout with minimal to no rest in between. Generally the movements you do will be somewhat unrelated to one another. For example you might do push-ups, then you might jump rope, then switch to sit-ups. The exercises can be performed in one of two ways. You can either do them for a set time, say 30 seconds, or a set number of reps per exercise. The point of this is to not burnout any one muscle group completely. Instead, you'll keep moving continuously while still being able to push relatively hard. The example I gave above would be a workout that you would rotate through for a number of rounds or just continually repeat for a set amount of time. You want to be able to push pretty hard during these workouts, but keep in mind we're not going for broke every single workout. Your goal is to get a great quality workout in 3-5 days a week. If you push as hard as you can every workout and you're not careful, you'll be burnt out by the third day or so. This does not apply as much to someone who is already in fantastic shape as much as it does to the beginner.
Let's talk about exercise selection and what's known as "scaling". It's crucial to your success that you choose exercises based on your current level and experience. You want to choose exercises that allow unused muscles to recuperate while moving nonstop from one exercise to another. Picking the wrong movements can limit how hard you're able to push. Although it may sound logical to throw in a super challenging exercise that you can barely do, in the end it will be more of a hindrance than a help. Say for example you are just starting out and you can only do 2 push-ups. This may not be the best movement for you at this time or you may need to scale it down. Scaling is when you take an exercise and make it easier while still working out the same muscles and movement patterns. Doing this properly will still elicit almost the same amount stimulus and response as the regular movement. If you take a movement like a box jump you can scale it 3 different ways. You can jump up and then step down, you can use a lower box entirely, or you can step up and down every time. A push-up can be done 2 different ways other than the regular way as well. You could perform the same movement with your knees on the ground, or stay on your feet and place your hands on an elevated surface such as: a box, bench, barbell in a squat rack, or a wall. If you aren't sure how to scale a movement, Google can help. Now that we know how to scale our movements, we need to talk about how hard to push.
The last thing I want to touch on is intensity. You have to keep in mind that your goal is to do two things with these workouts. Number one is to keep your heart rate up, and number two is be able to push relatively hard throughout each movement and round. If pushing " relatively hard " but not going for broke doesn't make sense to you then think in terms of sprinting vs running or jogging. Your workouts should be between 15- 30 mins long for the most part. If you were a person who trains Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, each of those days would have different intensity. Maybe Monday is a day that your workout feels like a run. You give it around 70% of your maximum effort. On Tuesday though, you can go all out, like a sprint. You'll push almost as hard as you can because you get to take the day off the next day. Then when you train again on Thursday you'll maybe do a workout with intensity equivalent to running, about 80-90%. As you finish out the week on Saturday, you'll do a workout that is maybe a little longer and about as intense as gong for a jog or you push to 100% if you're feeling really well. In closing if you want more information on the benefits of circuit training, also known as whole body training, there are a ton of great articles and videos on the subject. Until next time guys!