What is circuit training? It's a great way of working out and getting stronger. It allows you to exercise your whole body in a short period of time, as well as get a cardio workout.
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I’ll give a brief overview of where it came from, examine whether it’s right for you, and give you information on how to design your own training program. While I'm not normally a fan of machines, is you design your program well it's workable.
Circuit training was first introduced in the 1970s when Arthur Jones invented and began marketing the Nautilus machines. This set of 12 machines would each work a different part of your body, so that you worked out your entire body by the end of the ‘circuit’.
Circuits are done on other machines sets today. However, the name ‘circuit’ stuck for any set of several exercises done one after another.
Normally you work on one machine and then move right to the next to increase fatigue. Also, since you're doing a lot of repetitions of each exercise, this method of training focuses more on endurance than on pure strength training.
Circuit training is doing a ‘circuit’ of 2 or more exercises done one after another, meant to be repeated several times for your workout & almost always done on machines.
The Nautilus circuit takes 12 machines, a number of repetitions of one exercise per machine, and going through the entire circuit 2-3 times for your workout. It really gets the blood pumping!
These days there are several different machines sets. Some are set up for circuits of 8 machines or other numbers. The important part is hitting your entire body over the course of the workout.
Don’t confuse circuit training with interval training. Interval training focuses on wearing you out very fast with many short, intense intervals of one exercise, while circuits focus on working your whole body with avariety of exercises. If you want a really intense cardio exercise, interval training would be your cup of tea more than circuit training.
To be honest, I’m not that into machine circuit training. It tries to do two things at once - cardio and strength training.
If I want strength I’d rather do traditional weight lifting. And if I want to work on cardio I’d rather do running or jumping rope.
Large, multi-joint exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift are much better at building functional strength. Since the vast majority of circuit training is designed to use machines it doesn't give you stress all over your body at the same time.
However, if you don’t have a lot of time or want a simple routine that’s easy to follow, will gradually strengthen you and improves your endurance, then this training is for you. It’s straightforward and will give you the results you want. Here is a simple outline of how to organize a ‘circuit’ at your own gym.
Do the above workout 2 – 3 times a week, listening to your body so you don’t get too sore. Jumping into a new routine at full speed is just asking for an injury.
There are many gyms today that have these machines. You should ask the staff for info, since the machines may not be ones you are familiar with or have they have a unique order for their circuit.
Also, make sure the different exercises you are doing on the machines at your gym work your entire body. This is so there are no weak points that will interfere with using your strength outside the gym.
So, go to it. Get out there to your gym, find the machines, spend the time to learn how they work and their particular sequence, and go.
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What is Circuit Training? It's...
Dos Remedios, Robert. 2007. Men's Health Power Training: Build Bigger, Stronger Muscles Through Performance Based Conditioning. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale.
Contributors. "Circuit Training". Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_training (Accessed February 22, 2010)
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