Who says multitasking reduces your productivity? Not in the gym. Circuit training combines cardiovascular and strength training into one workout, and the more movement you pack into each minute at the gym, the more results you will see in the mirror and on the scale. Bye bye, Blackberry. Hello, circuit training. Perform about 12 repetitions of each exercise in the circuit before moving to the next one. Repeat the circuit one to three times, or for the duration of your workout.
Circuit with Resistance Machines
Resistance machines offer a gentle introduction to the weight room -- especially if you’re new to strength training -- because each machine provides illustrated instructions on how to perform the movement. Circuit training relies on moving from one exercise to the next with minimal rest between sets, so the layout of your gym should determine the order of exercises in your circuit. Consider including the following resistance exercises: biceps curl, leg press, lat pull down, bench press, triceps press, hamstring curl, quadriceps extension, seated row, chest press, pec fly and shoulder press.
Circuit with HIIT intervals
Do even more in less time by throwing high-intensity intervals into your circuit. They incinerate calories (read: burn off that disgusting piece of cake you downed at your co-worker’s retirement party yesterday) and can be anything from jumping jacks or high knees to burpees or tuck jumps. The primary objective is to get your heart rate sky high for about 30 seconds between resistance stations.
Circuit with Compound Exercises
Exercises that work more than one body part at a time burn more calories during the movement than single-muscle exercises and -- try to act surprised -- multiply the multitasking effect of your workout by toning two separate muscle groups in one fell swoop. Speed through your circuit with five simple compound exercises using dumbbells: squat with biceps curl and overhead press, forward lunge with lat row, reverse lunge with deltoid raise, dead lift with triceps kick back and reverse wood chop with one-leg squat.
Reciprocal supersets couple exercises using agonist and antagonist muscles -- think biceps and triceps or quadriceps and hamstrings -- into sets with minimal recovery time between exercises. A study published in the April 2010 “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that supersets increased energy expenditure during a workout and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption after it. Select exercises such as crunches followed by superman, biceps curls then triceps dips, leg extensions followed by leg curls or pushups then lat rows.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images