Monday, November 10, 2008

Building a Simple, Effective Rapid Fat Loss Circuit Workout

Back in the early days of resistance training, the heart of most exercise programs revolved around performing exercises in a straight set format. Basically what this means is that you perform a certain number of reps for a given exercise or you perform as many reps as possible for a given exercise and then you rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes based on your training goals before repeating this set two or three times. Shorter rests for a fat loss goal and longer rests for a strength or power goal.

So, what’s the problem with this format? Well, though straight sets are extremely easy to comprehend for people new to fitness, they are also an extremely inefficient way to order your exercises. In most commercial gyms you’ll typically see someone perform three sets of 10 reps for let’s say the bench press. They pump out 10 reps, go to the water fountain, talk with some buddies, watch a couple of highlights on ESPN, and then gingerly walk back to the bench area to hit up their second set. In general, most people, guys in particular, tend to take about 3-5 minutes between sets. In the case of three sets of 10 on the bench that means it would take up to 15 minutes to complete only one movement pattern (a horizontal push). That means you’d need at least in hour to perform four different exercises!

Want to save time? Perform your exercises in the alternating set format. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. The key with this approach is it allows you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. Plus, there's also a bonus in that while you are exercising one muscle, you're encouraging further recovery of the area worked by the previous exercise - it's called reciprocal inhibition for those sciency ones out there. Ultimately you get more work accomplished in less time, who wouldn't want that? See below for some ways to incorporate alternating sets in your program:

1.) Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges)

2.) Trisets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges)

3.) Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises

Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, circuit training may just take the cake. To demonstrate why, let’s examine one of my favorite circuit training template using timed set intervals:

The 50-10 Five Exercise Circuit: You will alternate between 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for all five exercises in the following 5-minute circuit:

Exercise#1- Squats

Exercise#2- Dips

Exercise#3- Single-Leg Hip Extensions

Exercise#4- Pull-ups

Exercise#5- Leg Raises

Perform this circuit up to four times for a 20-minute total body fat burning workout.

Basically, in the same 15 minutes that it took to get in three sets on the bench you could have gotten in three sets of five different exercise for a staggering total of 15 work sets! Plus, the intensity on each exercise will be just as high as in the straight set format because in this five exercise circuit you will have full recovery with over four minutes before you return to any given exercise (just as you did with the straight set format described earlier).

To recap, the key to generating a jacked up metabolism for hours and hours of fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods as you want to do as much work as possible in the shortest amount of time. Use the following template I use with my many boot camp clients for some killer, yet simple fat loss circuits:

Exercise#1- Double-Leg

Exercise#2- Push

Exercise#3- Single-Leg

Exercise#4- Pull

Exercise#5- Core

Here’s a workout video showing you a great circuit you can perform anywhere:

Fat Loss Circuit

I’ll be sharing some more great circuit training workouts from my boot camps in the weeks to come ;)

Look fit. Look healthy. Look better naked!


Tweet This

No comments: