When you're trying to lose those extra pounds after carrying a baby for nine months, or if you're just trying to get into better shape after life took you away from the gym for a while, you don't want to waste time trying fad exercises that won't get you results. Circuit training is an effective way to lose weight because it alternates between different types of workouts, using different parts of your body. You'll see the most results if you do circuit training three times a week, on nonconsecutive days. Consult a health care professional before starting a new exercise routine.
1. Total-Body Circuit
You can do a total body circuit at home that works out all your muscles and burns as many as 600 to 800 calories an hour depending on how high you get your heart rate up during the circuit. The key is combining the circuit with short walks or jogs. The circuit involves a 15-minute walk or jog, followed by squats done with one foot on a chair for 30 seconds per side, then sitting on a chair and standing up with one leg, 30 seconds per side. Next, you can do incline pushups using a chair for 60 seconds, followed by ground pushups for 60 seconds. Repeat the entire circuit twice and end with a 15-minute walk or jog.
2. Short Metabolic Circuit
Metabolic resistance training can help you burn fat and lose weight if you're short on time. The key is combining multiple resistance exercises in a circuit style. You can do all seven exercises in this circuit, with breaks in between each station, in just 25 minutes. The exercises are 10 squats while holding a vertical dumbbell, 12 or more pushups, 10 rows using a weight bar, 10 deadlifts with dumbbells, 10 shoulder presses with dumbbells, 10 chinups and 10 modified planks on a stability ball. You can modify the circuit by changing the dumbbell weight or the number of reps, depending on your level.
3. Spartacus Circuit
Circuits that combine weight training burn more calories on average than cardio circuits. According to the University of Connecticut, by combining weight training with cardio exercises, your body will lose more fat than if you just did cardio. A circuit called the Spartacus combines weight training with fast movements, alternating between upper-body and lower-body muscles, to get the best from both worlds. The training varies from program to program, but it essentially entails starting with squats, moving on to pushups while alternating steps, then kettle swings with dumbbells, and then pushups on dumbbells, lifting the dumbbell over your shoulder each time. Circuits also include include jumping lunges, dumbbell rows, side lunges, rotating lunges and push presses. Ask a personal trainer for the specific Spartacus circuit that's right for your level.
4. Playground Circuits
If you want to keep up the circuit training routine but you're getting tired of the grind of the everyday workout, give yourself a break by moving your circuit training to a playground. You'll still burn calories to lose weight, and you'll get a change of pace that will keep you motivated. Exercises you can do for a playground circuit include climbing up and down a monkey-bar ladder, jumping on and off a bench, side lunges on the grass, using a chair or bench for incline pushups, monkey-bar pullups, swinging rows with a swing, running up a hill, situps on a slide and raising and lowering your legs while on a swing.
Keep in mind that exercise alone won't help you lose weight if you end up consuming more calories than you're burning. For the best results, combine your circuit training with calorie reduction and a healthy diet. To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to expend 3,500 calories. That means if you cut 500 calories from your diet every day, you'd lose approximately 1 pound a week. To help your circuit training, choose healthier options such as replacing high-calorie snacks with low-calorie alternatives, reducing your portion sizes and cutting out high-calorie drinks.
- Self: Total-Body Circuit Workout (Heidi Klum is a Fan!)
- Huffington Post: The Ultimate Weight-Loss Circuit Workout
- Women's Health: The Science Behind Metabolic Circuits
- The Edge Fitness: The “Spartacus” Workout
- Greatist: The 30-Minute Bodyweight Workout: Playground Edition
- MayoClinic.com: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight Loss Basics
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