The Incremental (But Intense) Circuit Workout

Tom Kelso

Coach

Strength and Conditioning

Fitness, workouts, intervals, circuit training, intensity, work-rest

Source: Bev Childress

 

True circuit training is demanding. It is difficult. It's why many eschew it for easier forms of exercise. If you want to truly reap the benefits of it you'll find a way to do it because circuit training has such an upside:

 

 

  • Improved cardiovascular conditioning
  • Increased muscular strength
  • Maximized calorie burning
  • Improved mobility and flexibility
  • Enhanced muscular endurance
  • Assists in fat loss

 

How to Do the Incremental Circuit Workout

What follows is the incremental circuit workout. It's one of many ways to circuit train. Why am I promoting it? It's simple to understand, easy to implement, and it will work if you work. 

 

It's performed three non-consecutive days per week (i.e., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) over an eight-week period. Various work-rest protocols are implemented each workout using a variety of exercises that fit five different categories.

 

Work-Rest Protocols

  • Week 1 - :30 work time followed by :30 recovery time. Five rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 25 minutes.
  • Week 2 - :30 work time followed by :20 recovery time. Six rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 25 minutes.
  • Week 3 - :45 work time followed by :30 recovery time. Five rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 32 minutes.
  • Week 4 - :45 work time followed by :20 recovery time. Six rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 33 minutes.
  • Week 5 - 1:00 work time followed by :30 recovery time. Five rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 38 minutes.
  • Week 6 - :45 work time followed by :20 recovery time. Eight rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 44 minutes.
  • Week 7 - 1:00 work time followed by :20 recovery time. Six rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 40 minutes.
  • Week 8 - :45 work time followed by :15 recovery time. Nine rounds of the five exercises. Total workout time is 45 minutes.

 

Fitness, workouts, intervals, circuit training, intensity, work-rest

 

The Five Exercise Categories

  • Multi-joint lower-body: The barbell or dumbbell squat, barbell or dumbbell lunge, leg press machine, and others that emphasize simultaneous hip and knee extension.
  • Upper body push: The decline, flat, incline, and overhead press performed with barbells, dumbbells, and machines.
  • Upper body pull: The upright row, low/bent-over row, wide and close grip pulldowns, and wide or close grip chin ups. Again, barbells, dumbbells, and machines.
  • Total body: Burpees, mountain climbers, bear crawls, jumping jacks, medicine ball squat-to-press. Anything that entails the use of the upper and lower body together.
  • Run or device movement: Shuttle runs, sprints, agility drills, and exercise machine work (stair climber, stationary cycle, treadmill).

 

Fitness, workouts, intervals, circuit training, intensity, work-rest

 

The key to obtaining results from the incremental circuit is to go all-out on each exercise, use challenging resistances where applicable, and adhere to the prescribed work-rest times.

 

Best wishes. If you give this a go, let us know how it went in the comments below.

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