You know you have made yourself a good circuit if you are a little afraid of it. That makes conquering it all that more rewarding.
So gear up to vanquish weakness with today’s circuit: 400-meter row, 20 kettle bell swings, 10 leg lifts, all while timing how long it takes you to complete three rounds.
Circuit training is one of my favorite ways to exercise. It builds strength, stamina and pushes your limits. If you bring all the circuit elements together in one location you can minimize the time it takes you to transition between them.
My rules for circuits are simple: scale, rest, finish.
Scaling exercises tailors them to fit you. If 400 meters is too long of a distance on the rower, decrease it to 200 or 250. If a resistance on the rower of 5 is too easy, then increase it to 8 or 10. Workout buddies could do today’s circuit together. Use different variables and both get an awesome workout.
For example, a couple could decide to work out together on Valentine’s Day instead of exchanging candy. One weighing 210 pounds might use a 50-pound kettle bell and the other weighing 140 pounds may feel comfortable with one that weighs 35 pounds. With everything else the same, they should finish at about the same time.
Rest is important. If you’re new to circuit training, pay attention to your level of exertion. Things such as heart rate, perspiration and ability to talk are important to consider. Rest for 10 to 20 seconds between exercises, if needed, in the beginning. You will condition yourself to need less time to rest between exercises and eventually none at all. You may even get so good as to actively rest during things like the row and leg lifts and use the majority of your energy for things such as the kettle bell swings.
Many people make the mistake of sprinting through the first round only to discover in round two that the body wasn’t ready for it. Then it feels like you’re moving through mud the rest of the time. I recommend pacing yourself through your circuit. This keeps your stimulus high and conditions you mentally to accomplish difficult tasks. Your body will catch up eventually. As your body catches up, it leaves behind things such as body fat and weakness.
Finish your circuit. It is a huge mental boost to look back and say, “I finished!” You become confident in your abilities, and the whole “exercise” thing becomes tolerable. After a month you have an impressive list of circuits, all with checkmarks next to them. Like a general has medals for deeds of bravery and valor on his uniform, so will you be decorated in a body of fitness with workouts behind you.
The exercises today are simple in their movements. I found the rower at the UNLV gym. It was tucked away at first but I discovered it. The rower is a sweet piece of equipment. It is low-impact and uses the whole body. The best part is that many people don’t know how awesome it really is so it goes unused and sits open for you.
The kettle bell swings may require some practice before adding them to a circuit. They are an explosive movement and effective in conditioning the posterior chain. Leg lifts are an easy exercise that still require some focus to perform correctly. Use them to rest from the others.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.