Circuit-breaker that gets results
"If I was limited to just one exercise option, for me, the choice would be simple: circuit training." Photo: Getty
I've been jumping around in Lycra for quite a few years now, and at some stage or another I must have tried almost every form of exercise on offer, from dance classes to marathons, hard-core weight training to Bikram yoga sessions. I've done this because I have always thought that variety in your exercise regimen is the best way to keep training interesting. I've never been a fan of the "guru" mentality that is prevalent in the fitness industry – the notion that there is only one right way when it comes to exercise, and that's my way.
But if I was ever limited to just one exercise option, for me the choice would be simple: circuit training. For those of you who aren't familiar with circuit training, it involves doing a series of exercises, one immediately after the other with little or no rest in between, then taking a short break before repeating the circuit again.
One of the greatest things about circuits is that they are infinitely variable. You can make them as long or short as you please; and you can base them on strength, cardio or flexibility. You can do them in the gym or create your own in the park – think equipment-free exercises such as squats, lunges and crunches.
If you like, you can even base them around a time limit. So instead of counting the number of repetitions for any exercise, you can give yourself, say, 30 seconds on one exercise before you move on to the next one. You can repeat any exercise as many times as you wish. You can build them around the equipment available to you. See how flexible circuits are?
My husband is a recent convert to circuits. After years of doing weight training, he noticed he'd gathered an uninvited roll around the navel area. So I devised a strength-based circuit for him, which he continues to do three times a week in place of a weights session, and the extra padding was gone in just two weeks.
Try it for yourself. Pick five exercises – say, free-standing squats, backward-stepping lunges, sumo squats, push-ups and crunches. Do 12 reps of each exercise one after the other without a break, then rest and repeat three more times, or five if you can.
If you're a weight trainer and want to rip it up a bit, try this sequence with a weight that makes you work for 12 reps: incline dumbbell press, clean and press, bent-over row, sit-ups and chins. Is that heaving I'm hearing out there?
And that brings me to the other reason I love circuits – they work.
Be creative with the exercises, and remember that the objective is to get your heart rate up. If you're doing your circuit in a gym, pick exercises that you can do in one area without having to rush from one end of the gym to the other.
From: Sunday Life