A lot of people enjoy circuit training workouts because it combines resistance training with an aerobic element. For that reason many people like to use this style of training because it is quick and efficient. Also many times a circuit program is designed as a full body routine. Ideally with a good program you can get a great workout in less than an hour, three times a week.
But what does it take to make a good circuit training program? It is a combination of selecting the right exercises to ensure the goals of the program are met as well as including a level of difficulty to challenge you. Also it helps if you can do the exercises even when the gym is crowded. One challenging aspect of circuit programs that are based on using only machines is that they are hard to do in a crowded gym where people are more prone to ‘claim’ a station.
To that end these programs are designed around free weights because it is easier to find them available.
The Power Circuit
The goal is to do each exercise without rest between. At the end of the circuit rest 1 minute. Complete 3 total circuits. You can use barbells or dumbbells for these circuit training workouts depending on what is available but dumbbells are preferred because it helps with agility and balancing your muscles. You should try and use the same weight at each station for all 3 circuits.
- Dumbbell Squats – 10 repetitions – You can hold the bells at shoulder height or by your sides.
- Dumbbell Incline Press – 10 repetitions – Use a 30 degree angle on the bench.
- Dumbbell Deadlifts – 10 repetitions – Keep your legs straighter to incorporate more hamstring.
- Dumbbell Front Rows – 10 repetitions – Keep the bells close together and bring them up to shoulder height.
- Pull Ups – 10 repetitions – Use a chin-up assist machine if you need to.
- Dips – 10 repetitions – Use a dip machine if your gym doesn’t have a dip station or you can’t do at least 10 unassisted.
- *for chin-ups and dips if you can do more than 10 with your bodyweight just go to failure.
The Endurance Circuit
Just like the Power Circuit use no rest between exercises and 1 minute between circuits. The reps are higher as we are focusing on muscle endurance. Also we switch exercises completely in this circuit training program.
- Dumbbell Lunges – 15 repetitions – You can do step-back lunges if going forward is uncomfortable.
- Pushups – 15 repetitions – Go nice and slow with perfect form.
- Single Stiff-Leg Deadlift – 15 repetitions – Perform stiff-legged deadlifts on a single leg with the other leg traveling back as you lean forward. Do 15 reps for each leg.
- Dumbbell Clean and Press – 15 repetitions – Start with dumbbells at waist level. Clean them to your shoulders and press overhead.
- Dumbbell Rows – 15 repetitions – Use an underhand grip and pull to your waist.
- Bench Dips – 15 repetitions – Do dips off a bench with feet elevated.
- Bench Crunches – 15 repetitions – Lie flat on a bench with your hands grabbing the bench near your ears. With knees bent curl your lower body to try and touch your knees to your forehead slowly, pause, and then lower.
These circuits are meant to be done three times a week such as on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For variety you could alternate them or do a power circuit Monday and Friday with endurance on Wednesdays. Either way these are both great circuit training workouts that will challenge you!