Every gym has a handful of members who spend the better part of the day working on their physique. For most people, that just isn’t a practical exercise plan. Work, family, and social commitments typically limit the amount of time any of us can devote to improving our fitness, so we need something that’s fast and effective. Something like circuit workouts.
The idea with these workouts is to complete one exercise, then move directly to the next without taking any rest. Most circuits include about six to ten different exercises, allowing you to take a break only after finishing the entire round. Unlike many other types of exercises, it improves your cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength at the same time.
As great as circuits are, you shouldn’t be trying to do them everyday. Without allowing yourself enough time to recover between such intense efforts, you’ll struggle to see results and could end up suffering from over-training syndrome. But as long as you’re doing them the right way, which means a few times per week, circuits can get you into excellent shape and burn major fat. Try it out with these six fantastic workouts.
6 Fat-Burning Circuit Workouts That Will Get You in Shape
1. Beginner’s circuit
For anyone who’s new to circuit training, it’s worth mentioning that they tend to be really tough. Even if you have a regular workout routine with plenty of cardio and weights, the switch to a workout with so little rest is often a huge challenge. Most will have to substantially decrease the amount of weight used for the exercises since you’ll reach exhaustion much faster without rest periods. This is totally normal, so don’t feel like it’s a sign of weakness.
Muscle & Fitness shared a circuit designed for newcomers, which is a great place to start if you’ve never tried the method before. It uses machines as opposed to free weights to help guide you through the proper motions as you get used to moving from one lift to the next. You’ll do the leg press, bench press, shoulder press, preacher curl, triceps extension, and machine crunches. For this workout, keep your rest to 1 to 2 minutes after completing the circuit and aim for a total of three to four rounds.
2. The Spartacus Workout
Circuits can focus on just a few parts of your body at a time or take an all-in-one approach. The latter is definitely the best option for those with limited time since it hits all of your major muscle groups. You want to feel tired at the end of each circuit, and wiped out by the time you’re done.
We really like The Spartacus Workout from Men’s Health because dumbbells are the only equipment you need. This routine involves goblet squats, mountain climbers, single-arm dumbbell swings, T-push-ups, split jumps, dumbbell rows, the dumbbell side lunge and touch, push-up position rows, the dumbbell lunge and rotation, and dumbbell push presses. The goal is to perform each exercise for 1 minute, transition to the next one in 15 seconds, then break for 2 minutes after completing one circuit. Aim for three total rounds.
3. James Bond-Inspired Circuit Workouts
After hearing Daniel Craig got in shape for his role as 007 in Casino Royale by completing two circuit workouts per week, Nerd Fitness’ Steve Kamb decided it was worth designing his own. The program includes 12 repetitions each of squats, lunges, dumbell bench-presses, assisted pull-ups, tricep rope pull-downs, barbell bicep curls, and lateral shoulder raises followed by 1 minute of jumping rope or jumping jacks.
As with the other workouts, take a few minutes to recover after one round, then go straight into another. This particular workout does involve a fair bit of equipment, which means you’ll probably have to do it at the gym. The article recommended going at off hours so you don’t hog equipment, but it’ll also ensure you don’t have to wait when moving from one exercise to the next.
4. 40-Minute Full-Body Circuit Workout
It’s probably clear we like full-body workouts around here, but there are some distinct advantages to targeting just a few muscle groups as well. When you complete multiple exercises utilizing the same muscles, you completely fatigue that part of your body, which encourages growth and definition. If you’re smart about it, you can get the benefits of both in one workout.
Bodybuilding.com’s 40-minute circuit combines supersets for your legs, back, and arms as a way to really exhaust your muscles. Though there are a few areas in the circuit where you can rest completely, the article suggested trying active rest instead. This means performing exericses like jumping jacks or burpees between sets. You’ll keep your heart rate elevated and burn even more calories.
5. 20-Minute Full-Body Circuit Workout
A super busy day may leave you with no more than 30 minutes to sneak in a workout. In these instances, an intense circuit is the most practical type of workout. You’ll send your heart rate soaring and challenge your muscles in less time than it takes to watch a TV show. Keep in mind, an intense circuit is best performed in the morning or the evening because it’ll definitely make you sweat. This just isn’t practical for a lunch break unless you have access to a shower.
Keeping time-crunched folks in mind, BuiltLean created a 20-minute circuit that anyone can do. For this Circuit Workouts, you’ll do 15 repetitions of squats with an upright dumbbell row, 20 repetitions of reverse lunges, as many push-ups as possible, as many pull-ups as possible, and 20 repetitions of medicine ball twists. Depending on how quickly you can move through the circuit and how tired you get, you’ll want to complete the entire set three to four times.
6. Advanced Circuit
If you’re a circuit veteran, you may be looking for something more challenging. Consider your search complete because this four-part plan featured on Men’s Fitness is about as difficult as it gets. You’ll sprint 400 meters, perform 100 chin-ups, perform 100 burpees, then close with another 400-meter sprint. Because this workout is all about intensity, you’ll want to incorporate a solid warm-up and cool-down.