Circuit training is a time-efficient method of training that has grown in popularity in the last few years. In 2010, the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit fitness watchdog organization, listed circuit training among the most popular and time efficient fitness trends. Generally, a circuit consists of both cardio and strength activities performed alternately with little rest between stations. Varying the interval periods and activities in a circuit can provide a more intense workout.
Plyometrics, also called jump training, involves explosive movements such as jumping and hopping. Adding plyometric exercises to a circuit workout increases the intensity of the workout. Set up four stations for this workout: explosive push-ups, squat thrusts, jumping pull-ups and plyometric lunges. Perform each station for 30 seconds, with no rest between exercises. Rest one minute after completing all four stations. Repeat the circuit three to four times.
Tabata intervals are the shortest, and yet one of the most intense interval workout styles. A Tabata interval lasts only four minutes, with 20 seconds of intense activity alternated with 10 seconds of rest. For this Tabata workout, four exercises will be used: burpees, clean and presses, mountain climbers and push-ups with rows. You will need dumbbells for the clean and presses and push-ups with rows. After doing each exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, then move to the next exercise. Maintain a quick pace as you perform each repetition but do not sacrifice form or control for speed. Continue for four minutes.
Performing compound strength exercises, where you use more than one muscle, is more demanding than performing isolation exercises, where you work only one muscle. Consider doing a barbell chest press versus a dumbbell tricep extension. This circuit includes only compound strength exercises making it more intense than those that focus on isolation exercises. Set up six stations for this circuit: barbell squat, high-knee runs, barbell chest press, squat thrusts, pull-ups, and mountain climbers. Perform each station for 30 seconds, with as little rest as possible between exercises. Rest one or two minutes after completing all six exercises. Repeat the circuit two or three times.
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