If you’re trying to design a circuit training weight loss program, or your goal is to gain strength, there are a few basics to understand about circuit training in general. Let me preface this by saying that circuit training can be a very free style of training. You can take exercises from whichever bodyweight, barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbell weight lifting programs you like and put them together to make a circuit. Just keep a few things in mind before you get into advanced circuit training programs. Take the following options into account when thinking it over:
- Alternate weighted drills with bodyweight drills
- Alternate upper body drills with lower body drills
- Alternate strength drills with cardio drills
- Alternate difficult drills with easier drills
Keep in mind the overall objective of circuit training, which is to allow you to combine the benefits of strength training with the benefits of cardio training to make an effective workout that can be done in a short period of time. You virtually eliminate the rest period between sets, allowing you to get and keep your heart and lungs working. However, because you’re constantly changing exercises, your muscle groups don’t get fatigued as quickly. So in effect, your muscle groups still get that rest period.
For example, lets say you create a very short circuit with the following:
- Kettlebell swing
- Jumping jacks
- Kettlebell overhead press
- Kettlebell front squat
For this circuit, you would decide if you want to go for time, or for reps. Spend at least one minute on each exercise, but not more than two. Once you’ve done that, rest 15-20 seconds (no more than 30), and go directly to the next exercise. For these short rest periods, keep moving around, don’t just stand or sit. Once you’ve completed the circuit, go directly back to the kettlebell swings and start over. Try to make it through the circuit 2-3 times if you’re new. If you can make it through three times, you’re probably ready for a longer circuit, or more advanced circuit training programs.
While this is a fairly simple circuit, here’s the thinking behind it:
- Swings are a good warmup
- Windmills are a good core movement, but can be dangerous if you’re overly tired, so we put them after some easier drills
- Jumping jacks are a good transition exercise – they don’t require much concentration or much exertion
- Kettlebell presses are good for upper body strength
- Kettlebell front squats are good for leg strength
You don’t want to work the same muscle group twice in a row. For example, you probably don’t want to do kettlebell presses right after pushups, since they both work the shoulders and arms in similar ways. You also don’t want to do two difficult or dangerous exercises back to back either.
Again, this is a simple circuit. You can make them longer and more complex, putting more thought into exercise selection and order. With a little thought and planning, you can design a circuit training weight loss program that you’ll like doing and will stick with. The constant changing of exercises really helps eliminate the boredom that comes with a lot of traditional weight training programs.
If you’re in the market for some advanced circuit training programs with kettlebells, check out Jeff Martone’s DVDs, specifically H2H: Kettlebell Circuits. That DVD is guaranteed to stave off boredom in your training!
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