By Nick Nilsson
Author of Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss
Fat-Loss Circuit Training is all about losing fat quickly. It's challenging but very effective!
It's also one of the core components of my powerful "Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss" program.
Fat-Loss Circuit Training is very simple once you get the hang of it, but it can be one of the most demanding (and most extraordinarily effective) styles of training you can do.
If you're familiar with normal circuit training (with timed, light-weight intervals), please put aside any notions you might have of how this program works. You will not only be harnessing the muscle-building and metabolism-stimulating power of intense, full-set weight training (NOT the typical light-weight, timed intervals of normal circuit training), you will also be incorporating the great calorie-burning effects of cardiovascular training.
The proper combination of the two styles (weights and cardio) into one workout is, quite simply, phenomenal for fat burning.
In order to use Fat-Loss Circuit Training, you will need access to both weight equipment and cardio equipment (and/or benches or stairs), preferably located in fairly close proximity to each other.
This type of training is harder to do in a crowded gym as it will involve you moving back and forth quickly between different pieces of equipment. If someone is waiting to use your cardio machine the moment you step off, it will defeat the purpose of the workout. This technique is best used in a fairly uncrowded gym where you have more freedom to use equipment or, better yet, in a home gym with weights and cardio equipment and no one waiting for anything.
If you do work out in a crowded gym, I will tell you exactly how to get around it.
How Fat-Loss Circuit Training Works:
Essentially, this is combined circuit/interval training.
You will be going back and forth between your weight training exercises and one cardio exercise for the duration of the workout.
Your rest period for weights will be your cardio and your rest period for cardio will be your weights.
You will be doing some sort of activity for your entire workout without any break!
This combination is very effective for a number of reasons:
It forces your body to burn calories continuously during the workout.
It utilizes resistance training and cardio training so you get all the benefits of both in one workout.
By forcing your body to work like this, you dramatically increase your metabolism leading to increased fat burning long after the workout (more so than either weights or cardio alone).
It saves time - you get both your weights and cardio in the same amount of time as your regular workout.
You will still be able to use heavy weights in your weight training, helping to preserve muscle mass.
How To Do Fat Loss Circuit Training:
Step 1 - Set Up
For the most efficient workout possible, try to have most or all of your exercises pre-set and ready to go. The less time you spend on preparation during your workout itself, the more effective that workout will be, especially since you want to be continually active throughout the workout.
You can use any type of cardio that is convenient and enjoyable to you, be it a machine, stair stepping, or even a skipping rope.
If you are working out in a crowded gym, try to claim an area for yourself and focus on dumbbell exercises. You won't have to wait in line to use any weight machines that way.
If you don't have access to convenient cardio machines, you're going to have to go low-tech. You'll need to do stair-stepping (stepping up two stairs then back down works well), bench-stepping (step up onto a flat bench or Step platform then back down) or rope-jumping (be sure you're not close to anyone if you choose this). These approaches work just as well as cardio machines and allow you to perform this training style in a busier setting.
If the stair-stepping method is what you need to use,
- Right foot up on Step 1
- Left foot up on Step 2
- Right foot up on Step 2
- Left foot down on Step 1
- Right foot down on floor
- Left foot down on floor
Step 2 - Warm-up
Do a few minutes of low-intensity cardio as a warm-up. You may wish to do a few light sets of a few of the exercises you'll be working with before you start into it though. Don't tire yourself out, just get a light sweat going.
Step 3 - Start with 30 - 40 seconds of moderate intensity cardio.
This could be setting a stair machine to a level that is not easy but is not so challenging that you're going to exhaust yourself right away. Watch the timer on your machine and go for approximately 40 seconds (I say approximately because there will generally be a slight lag time when you step on and off).
Many cardio machines have a "rest period" feature where you can leave the machine on and it will not erase your program while you have stepped off. Normally, this is about 2 minutes. This should be enough time to complete your weight set.
If you are using a machine such as a treadmill or stair machine that you will leave on with the timer running, just watch the time counter on the machine and keep track of when you get on it to get the designated period. It may require a little mental math. You can also use your own stopwatch or timer on your watch to keep track (this is easier). Start the timer when you start the cardio.
Many machines also have a feature that runs through a series of time periods. I've found on the StairMaster, if you set the length of the session to 20 minutes, this results in a 40 second time period making it perfect for judging your cardio periods.
Step 4 - Do a set of weights.
Go as quickly as you can to your first exercise. Do a set of the first exercise on your program for the day. Do this with no rest, going from the cardio immediately to the weights. Do all your reps until you start to approach muscular failure.
While this is definitely still intense weight training, don't push yourself to muscular failure as you would in your regular training. Due to the high training volume we'll be doing in this program, pushing to failure on every set will compromise muscle recovery.
Also, be very sure to use proper form and tempo when lifting the weights. Don't rush your weight sets - perform them with the same form and speed as you would if you were doing a regular set in your training. Fast, light or sloppy weight sets are NOT what we're looking for here.
Step 5 - Go right back to the cardio.
Get back to the cardio and do another 40 seconds of moderate-intensity cardio.
Step 6 - Repeat the cycle for the duration of the workout.
You will be going back and forth continuously between cardio and your weight training exercises, using the cardio as the rest period between your weight sets. What this means is that over the course of your workout, you'll be burning calories via cardio and weights AND you'll be working your muscles with intense, heavy weight training as well. It's tough training but very effective.
As you improve your cardio ability, you can choose to increase the intensity of your cardio training between sets. You may wish to start at a lower level and gradually increase the resistance over the course of the workout or start at a higher level and keep it there. It is perfectly acceptable to keep it at a steady, moderate level, however.
This Fat-Loss Circuit technique can be used with nearly any form of cardio exercise as long as it is convenient to go back and forth with the weights. The real key here is to maintain activity for the entire workout.
Keep your workouts to no more than 45 minutes at the very most when doing this type of training. Any more than that and you will be breaking yourself down too much. It's an extremely demanding form of training as you'll be working every major energy system in your body. You will also find it will crank your metabolism up pretty seriously!
|Barbell Bent-Over Rows or Seated Cable Rows
|Flat Barbell or Dumbbell Bench Press
|Standing Barbell Curls or Dumbbell Curls
|Standing Calf Raises or Seated Calf Raises
|Fat Loss Circuit Training
|Take no rest as you move between 40 seconds of cardio work and your weight training sets. Have everything set up and ready to go with your exercises as much as possible.
Choose a weight that allows you to hit the top of the listed rep range on the first set and keep to that weight. As you fatigue, your reps will drop.
You can choose any form of cardio you like...treadmill, stair machine, jogging in place, stair stepping, rope jumping, elliptical, kettlebell swings, etc.
Your 40 seconds of cardio should be of moderate intensity, not high intensity.
When two exercises are listed here, select from one or the other and do all your sets with it.
Fat-Loss Circuit Training Variations
I've put together a number of different options for this style of training that are also extremely effecive.
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