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“Who has the time?” When it comes to working out, you’ve probably heard this before, or (gasp) even said it. And you know what? We don’t blame you. Partially, because we’ve said it ourselves. Partially because exercising can actually take quite a bit of time, especially if you have kids, work a 9-5, or both. Running six miles, a challenging bike ride, or just getting the kids packed in the car and to the gym isn’t easy. We’ve been there.
But for anyone who’s feeling the time crunch in their lives AND also sees the health benefits of extra exercise, there is some good news. It’s called circuit training.
Made popular by the military and programs like CrossFit, circuit training is the absolute workout your body needs, delivered in a fraction of the time. Part of what makes circuit training so great (and so miserable while you’re going through it) is that it’s designed to give you an aerobic workout while improving your strength.
In a nutshell, circuit training is a series of repeated movements that are performed very quickly but with an all-out effort. You know those videos of sweaty athletes whipping large, heavy-looking ropes up and down? That’s should give you an idea. Circuit exercises can be pretty much anything, and circuits usually include a mix of some intense cardio movements, plyometrics, and strength exercises.
While circuit training may be short, it’s definitely not easy. But that’s part of what makes it so great. A better workout in less time. And here’s what makes circuit training so good:
1. YOU BURN CALORIES. LOTS OF CALORIES.
When you put your body through short bursts of maximum effort and then mix in short periods of rest, you’re expending a short, albeit high-calorie burn. And just when the fatigue starts to kick in, you move to a different movement that works a different muscle group—keeping your heart rate up.
This basically means that you can work out a lot harder than you could have if you were expending less effort over a longer period of time—say an hour-long bike ride for example. The harder the effort, the better the results. And just writing this makes us want to puke.
2. IT’S EASY ON THE INJURIES
We’re going to have to qualify this section with a little caveat. You can still get hurt doing circuit training, especially if you’re not doing it properly. BUT because circuit training mixes in lots of different movements, you decrease the stress you’re putting on just one part of your body.
Additionally, if you’re recovering from, or trying to prevent a previous injury, circuit training is a great option because swapping out movements is very easy—and often encouraged.
3. MAKES EXERCISING LESS BORING
“The treadmill is so exciting,” said no one, ever. The sheer boredom and monotony that comes with traditional exercising keeps a lot of people from exercising in the first place. Which is a shame because exercising is awesome.
This isn’t just a mental thing. Doing the same repetitive motions at the gym every day also bores your body. Fitness plateaus happen with over repetition, and people stop seeing the same great results.
If you suffer from the workout doldrums, you should seriously consider giving circuit training a try. Why? Because circuit training typically involves several different exercises. While your circuit might focus on a specific type of training, like strength or plyometric, most circuits are designed to have a mix of strength, cardio, and plyometric exercise. Since you won’t have to do any of them for more than a minute at a time, you won’t get bored!
4. SUPERCHARGES YOUR METABOLISM
Circuit training, by design, turns your metabolism into a fat-burning furnace. In a 20 minute circuit training workout, you can torch more calories than you would during an hour session on the elliptical. Plus, because you’re also incorporating anaerobic work into your workout, you’ll keep burning calories for up to 48 hours after your workout ends. However, this doesn’t mean you can head to Taco Bell and “treat yourself right.” We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work. Trust us.
5. GOOD FOR EVERYONE
It turns out that combining anaerobic and aerobic exercises into one workout is pretty great for your overall health, even when it comes to preventing disease. So basically, no matter who you are, circuit training can help.
Circuit training is also great for all ages. Movements can be easily adjusted or adapted for different fitness levels, making them a perfect entry-level exercise program, or they can be ramped up to challenge serious athletes. We’ve already talked about how circuit training really burns calories, and getting to – and maintaining – a healthy weight is one of the most important factors in long-term health.
OK, SO HOW DO YOU GET STARTED
Building an intense, health-bosting, fat-burning routine that has you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes isn’t hard at all. In fact, we’re going to walk you through the entire process in our next article. Stay tuned.