Resistance training is often overlooked in favor of cardiovascular exercise, especially for those trying to lose weight. However, regular resistance workouts can improve function, body composition, insulin resistance, glucose metabolism and blood pressure. Circuit training is a series of resistance exercises that can give you the benefits of both cardiovascular and strength workouts. By choosing your exercises, you can adapt your workout for a great beginner circuit training workout.
Circuit Training Description
Circuit training was first developed in 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson at the University of Leeds in England, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. Traditionally the circuit was comprised of nine to 12 exercises, or stations, that were performed with little to no rest between exercises. You have the ability to choose your exercises for a beginner or advanced workout. Machines, free weights, resistance bands, stability balls or even your own body weight can be used.
Basic Circuit Sample
Before you begin, choose the exercises that you are going to perform. Make sure that they are challenging, but are suited to your ability level and that you can maintain proper form and technique. Machine exercises may be a suitable choice for beginners as they guide your movement. A sample machine beginner circuit may look like this: chest press, pulldowns, leg press, shoulder press, leg curl, tricep pressdown, calf raises, bicep curls and abdominal crunches. These exercises will work every major muscle group in your body for a complete workout.
Sets and Repetitions
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you perform at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions per exercise, two to three times per week on non-consecutive days. This is a good place for a beginner to start. Choose a weight/resistance that is challenging but allows you to complete the recommended amount of repetitions. Perform the exercises in your circuit back to back. Your only rest between exercises is when you are going to the next exercise. After a few weeks, you can add a second circuit, up to three times through as you advance. Start slowly, gradually increasing resistance and the number of circuits you perform.
You can choose to add cardio stations to your circuit as well as resistance. To keep it simple, choose walking or stepups on a bench. Your cardio stations can be 30 seconds up to three minutes. If you want to add cardio, your circuit may look like this: one-minute walk, chest press, pulldowns, one-minute step ups, leg press, shoulder press, one-minute walk, leg curl, tricep extension, one-minute step ups, bicep curl, calf raises, one-minute walk, abdominal crunches.
Bethany Kochan began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked in fitness as a group instructor, personal trainer and fitness specialist since 1998. Kochan graduated in 2000 from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Medical Exercise Specialist and certified YogaFit instructor.