Fitness Blog – The Shape of Circuits

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I come from a background of both university qualifications and Joint Armed Services Physical Training so when designing circuit programs for clients, I have a foot in both camps. But what most influences me in  the design of circuits is the question of what does the client need to get out of it?

There is the classic 4 – 12 exercises for 8 – 12 repetitions each exercise; circuiting through all exercises and repeating the circuit 2 – 4 times and with a total time of between 10 – 30 minutes. There is plenty of scope as to how simple or complex in your choice of exercise selection in this type of circuit and the total time and volume can be determined upon how intense you need to make it.

The pattern of exercise selection is an important consideration because if the exercises have a power element to them for instance, then there would need to be more rest between exercises. Although you should always try to have as little rest between the exercises as possible?

In the classic Physical Training mode the pattern might be Arm/Shoulder followed by Trunk then Leg. In catering for the large numbers of people in the group being trained, there is a time limit to complete each exercise and the physical setup of the circuit is obviously circular around the periphery of the gym. But you can use repetition numbers if this is not a consideration?

But there are far more patterns you can use dependent upon needs and availability of equipment. With circuits though, you only need body weight and a small space to exercise in to have a very effective circuit. With a little imagination there are a miriard of exercises you can do. If you add a bare minimum of equipment such as a set of Dumbbells and a Step Up Box (or a stable chair) there are many more alternatives you can chose from. To get an idea of variety, you can use the Internet?

So what are some of the patterns of circuits you can use other than the ones described above?

  • You can do a series of mini circuits aiming at certain body parts in each circuit. So you can start with a circuit of three exercises that work your core, then a circuit of three exercises that work your lower body, then a circuit of three exercises that work your upper body.
  • You can do smaller circuits doing only two exercises in each circuit that work the opposing muscle groups – doing three circuits of each exercise before you continue the pattern, working through the whole body.
  • You can use a combination of machine weights and free weights if you work out in a commercial gym.
  • You can do a strength exercise followed by a power exercise in each two-exercise mini circuit. E.g. A Press Up followed by Dumbbell Push Presses.
  • You can do the Body Building routine of working a general exercise of a particular body part followed by a specific one.

But the circuit that I use both personally and for most of my clients is a circuit in which each exercise works the whole body in a coordinated way but changing the body position as you work through. Also,using different speeds in subsequent exercises. E.g. A Squat/Press followed by a Press Up Front Crawl (different positions and different speeds) – continuing to move through the circuit continuously changing in this way. In this way you can closely mimic the movement patterns that you need to work for any sport?

Imagination and being conscious of your needs are the two key components!


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