Circuit training: the funny uncle in everyone’s fitness routine.
Circuit training is a type of exercise that involves moving through several exercises that target specific muscle groups with little to no rest between exercises. It can be done at home, but it is more fun if you do it with someone else. There are local gyms that offer classes, and if you’ve never done any circuit training, contacting a local gym is the best way to find a class appropriate to your fitness level.
Circuit training should be fun, and it is made better with a few friends. I was once involved in a class that did various types of physical activity each week. One of my best memories was when we were partnered up and doing circuit training. I had some guy I didn’t know as my partner, and we were doing a fairly complex cardio (running) drill between a plank rotation and ball slams. He couldn’t get the running drill right. Our instructor had to explain it…repeatedly! It was too funny, and since he couldn’t follow directions, I asked him, “What grade do you teach?” He looked up at me, totally deadpan, and said, “Fifth”. I couldn’t contain my laughter, and it was contagious! I had no idea he was a teacher, but later, I learned that he was going back to school for another degree and had little kids at home. I gave him a pass on not being able to follow directions assuming he was probably sleep deprived. We all enjoyed that class, but that never would have happened if I had been doing the training alone.
You won’t be bored when you do circuit training because of the variety of exercises. It should elevate your heart rate and strengthen muscles. Move quickly through the exercise stations, which might include, bicep curls, jump rope, medicine ball work, sit-ups, etc. The number of repetitions at each station varies, but usually you devote between 30 seconds and 3 minutes to each station, depending on the exercise. Then, move to the next station.
You’ve seen those fitness stations along the trail in Walther Park, right? It’s considered a parcourse or fitness trail, and that is our best local version of circuit training. Walk briskly, run, or bike along the trail, follow the directions (with any necessary modifications) for each fitness station, and continue to the next one. Spending about 1 minute at each station is probably sufficient for an easy workout, but it may take longer when you’re just learning the exercises at each station. Easy peasy!
Anytime Fitness has a pretty good (and short) example as well. Their recommendation is to perform each exercise for 60 seconds, rest for 15-30 seconds, and move on to the next movement using these 10 exercises:
- Step ups
- Bent over row
- Bodyweight squats
- Shoulder presses
- Jumping jacks
- Glute bridges
- Tricep dips
You can learn more about the exercises in this progression on their website.
As with any physical activity, doing a warm up and cool down is important. Try walking for 5 minutes or find a stretching route that you enjoy and use that for your warm up and cool down.
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