Traditional circuit training involves moving quickly between weight-training stations to exercise and strengthen various muscle groups. Super circuit weight training takes the circuit concept to a more advanced level, adding cardio training between weight-training stations. The result is a combination program that includes muscle building and a heart-rate boost for an all-body workout in as little as 30 minutes.
The basic super circuit routine involves 15 to 20 repetitions per weight machine, or as many as you can do in 30 seconds. Between each weight machine, you'll do 30 seconds of some form of high-intensity aerobics, which in a gym setting is typically a stepper, stationary bicycle or a small rebounder. A super circuit workout can burn a minimum of 200 calories in 20 minutes. According to personal trainer Tom Holland, you can see a firmer, more sculpted body in only four weeks of two to three circuit sessions weekly.
According to Moorpark College, the super circuit weight training workout improves cardiovascular endurance up to 17 percent and muscular strength up to 26 percent, and it reduces body fat from 10 to 17 percent. Researchers in Brazil found that aerobic circuit weight training reduced total body fat, waist-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improved blood glucose and total cholesterol levels. A study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" in 2011 found that super circuit training decreased insulin resistance and the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
A Sample Workout
Many gyms now set aside a space for super circuit workouts, with 15 weight machines and cardio equipment between stations or in a common area. Some even have timers you can set to let you know when you have competed 30 seconds on each piece of equipment. If you don't have access to a gym, you can still do a super circuit at home with a set of dumbbells and a timing device. Examples of 30-second weight routines include biceps curls, triceps press, shoulder press, squats, lunges, lateral raises and abdominal crunches, while 30-second aerobic exercises can include running in place or jumping jacks.
If you are new to exercising, out of shape or have pre-existing medical conditions, check with your doctor before starting super circuit weight training. Even so, begin at an easy level with fewer weight repetitions and lower-intensity aerobics before you advance to higher-intensity workouts. Due to the demands on your body, allow at least a day of rest between circuit training days to give your muscles time to recover between sessions. Start each circuit session with a warm-up period of approximately three minutes of low-intensity aerobics and stretching, and follow each workout with a similar cooldown period to avoid injuries.
- Moorpark College: Aerobic Super Circuit
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Super Circuit Benefits and Orientation
- Arquivos Brasileiros de Cardiologia: Circuit Weight Training vs Jogging in Metabolic Risk Factors of Overweight/Obese Women
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Startup Circuit Training Program Reduces Metabolic Risk in Latino Adolescents
Bonnie Singleton has been writing professionally since 1996. She has written for various newspapers and magazines including "The Washington Times" and "Woman's World." She also wrote for the BBC-TV news magazine "From Washington" and worked for Discovery Channel online for more than a decade. Singleton holds a master's degree in musicology from Florida State University and is a member of the American Independent Writers.