Varied and challenging circuits of gym exercises help you lose weight and sculpt that lean body you have always wanted. Alleviate the tedium of endless minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike with a circuit of cardiovascular exercises, hopping between cardio machines. Alternately, set up a circuit combining cardiovascular and strength training exercises.
A structure of gym exercises is traditionally known as circuit training. According to the American Council on Exercise, a typical circuit comprises between eight and 10 exercise stations. Keep your heart and breathing rate elevated and maintain intensity by moving between each station with little or no rest. A good circuit is one designed to suit your capabilities, preferences and fitness goals. For example, structure a circuit to improve your cardiovascular fitness and strength, or focus the circuit to help you lose weight and increase your muscular endurance.
When you set up a good circuit that maintains your interest and challenges you, you accelerate weight loss. The circuit increases exercise afterburn since your body continues to burn oxygen and use fat as energy up to 48 hours after exercise as it works to replenish nutrients and return the body to its pre-exercise state. This process is known as post-exercise oxygen consumption. Post-exercise energy expenditure adds up over time, according to Chantal Vella, Ph.D., and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico, helping you lose weight in the long term. According to a 1992 study published in the "Journal of Applied Sports Science Research," circuit training significantly increases EPOC compared to aerobic exercises such as cycling.
A cardio-only circuit burns calories, helps you lose weight and also improves your cardiovascular fitness. For example, after warming up with a two-minute brisk walk, run for three minutes on the treadmill. Hop off, and do five minutes on the elliptical machine, then five minutes on the stationary bike and finish off with five minutes on the rowing machine. Without rest between the stations, this circuit gives you a 20-minute fat burning workout. If you are a beginner, rest for 60 seconds between stations and perform one or two circuits. Do more circuits as you get stronger with a two-minute rest between circuits.
Weight Loss and Endurance
To lose weight and improve your muscular endurance, design a circuit that alternates upper body, lower body and core exercises. Burn more calories by focusing on exercises that work your major muscle groups. A typical circuit includes the bench press, barbell squats, ab crunches, military press, lunges, reverse crunches, lat pulldowns, leg press and planks. Do 12 to 15 reps on your resistance exercises, 15 to 20 reps of ab exercises and hold the plank position for one minute. If you are a beginner, rest one to two minutes between exercises and perform one or two circuits. Do more circuits as you get fitter and stronger, and gradually reduce your rest periods until you are able to go between stations without rest.
Cardio, Strength and Weight Loss
To simultaneously lose weight, improve your cardiovascular fitness and get stronger, choose a circuit that alternates resistance and cardiovascular exercises. For example, alternate12 to15 reps of resistance exercises, such as the chest press, barbell squats, shoulder press, lunges and low pulley rows, with a two-minute run on the treadmill, and two minutes each on the elliptical machine, stationary bike, stairclimber and rowing machine. If you are a beginner, do one or two circuits with one to two minutes rest between exercises. As you get stronger, gradually increase your weights, reps, time on the cardiovascular machines and number of circuits.