Why Circuit Training Can Be Totally Kick Ass – Part 2 of 3
This is the second in a series of 3 guest posts by my friend, colleague, and master-trainer, Matt "Wiggy" Wiggins. Part 1 appeared here.
Last time, I talked about how circuit training had been mis-applied, half-assed, and thereby rendered ineffective by masses. I also said what a crock of crap that was, and told you how circuit training could be highly effective…if you did it the right way.
Let's look a little more at what should go into a good circuit training workout.
First, you've got to do the right types of exercises. It doesn't matter if I'm designing workouts for athletes, military/law enforcement, fighters, or just the 'regular joe/jane' (<-my speciality!), I like to use compound movements that use a lot of muscles, allow you to move a lot of weight, lift in an explosive manner, and be super-efficient with your training.
While some isolation movements are Ok to use (hey, I do direct arm training…I'm just as vain as the next guy ;-), for the most part, I like using the compound movements. For example, instead of a lateral raise of any kind, I vastly prefer overhead presses. No chest flyes here – it's bench presses, various types of pushups, and parallel bar dips. Leg extensions? Pffft – as if. All squats, deadlifts, different types of jumps, and other explosive movements.
Second, you've got to map out a series of exercises that can be done in a row with little equipment. This is kind of a big topic, so I'll expand on this in a future post, but suffice it to say, if you need two different bars, a bench, rack, set of dumbbells, and three machines, chances are that you're not gonna be able to complete your circuits in the proper fashion (very little to no rest between sets) because either you'll be training at home and won't have access to that much equipment, be in a local gym that has that much equipment, but still won't be able to do it because there will be other people that will want to jump in on the equipment and screw up your workout flow, or you'll have to find a place that has that much equipment and allows you to come in and train at 2am when the rest of the world is asleep…and who wants to do that?
Third, you've got to get your rest periods dialed in. Circuit training is effective because of the manner in which it's performed – stack exercises that work antagonistic (or at least differing) muscles one after another. This way, one set of muscles is working, while others are resting, yet your heart, lungs, and body as a whole are still working.
Fourth, you need to use the right amount of weight. You could have a very effective circuit training program mapped out, but if you do it with too little weight, you simply won't be working hard enough. Use too much weight, and you won't be able to complete the circuits (or even individual sets) with proper form or explosiveness.