A circuit training workout is great way to get a time efficient workout that offers the potential for muscle gain and fat loss. However, I’ve recently been using circuit training exercises to improve my endurance and cardiovascular health. Circuit training involves moving from one exercise to the next with little to no rest. I prefer to incorporate circuit weight training routines at the end of my workout in order to increase my heart rate and lose some fat in the process.
One of the great features of circuit training is that you can incorporate any number of exercises into your routine. Below is a list of circuit training exercises that I currently use or have used in the past along with a few sample circuit weight training routines that you can add to your workout.
Circuit Training Exercises
Because I workout at home, I divide my circuit training exercises into three different categories: barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight. This allows me to avoid changing weights so that I may quickly move from one exercise to another without rest. For the barbell exercises, I use a 65lb barbell. While this weight isn’t heavy enough for all the exercises I perform, it provides some resistance and helps add to my primary goal of improving cardiovascular endurance. With dumbbells, I simply use 12lb weights. Again, this isn’t nearly enough for certain exercises listed below, but it allows me to perform fast reps, in contrast to the slow, heavy weight training I do as part of my core strength training routine. I also keep a set of 45lb dumbbells for the exercises that are really too easy with 12lb weights. Bodyweight exercises are also great to add to a circuit training routine as you don’t need any equipment. I’ve listed the muscles worked in parentheses.
Clean and Press (full body)
Deadlifts (full body)
Bent Over Row (back)
Upright Row (shoulders)
Closed Grip Bench Press (triceps, chest)
Front Squats (legs)
Chest Flies (chest)
Incline Press (upper chest)
Side Raise (shoulders)
Front Lateral Raise (shoulders)
Rear Lateral Raise (shoulders)
One Arm Row (back)
Curls: generally seated simultaneous curls, but you could do standing, individual, etc. (biceps)
Triceps Kickback (triceps)
Goblet Squats (legs)
Calf Raises (legs)
Renegade Rows (abs)
Pull ups (back, arms)
Dips (chest, triceps)
Inverted Row (back, arms)
Pushups: any variety including regular, decline, closed grip (arms)
Burpees (full body)
Any number of leg exercises including squats, lunges, calf raises, jumping, etc.
If you don’t have any equipment, then Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training has put together a great bodyweight circuit:
Circuit Weight Training Workout Routines
As you can see from above, there’s a broad range of exercises that you can incorporate into a simple circuit training workout. I’ve been known to do as many as 15-20 of these exercises in a row without stopping. I like the variety it adds to the end of my workout and each exercise hits my muscles in a slightly different manner. I simply do 10 reps per exercise and just do 1 circuit. I try to avoid hitting the same muscles in back to back exercises.
However, circuit weight training routines can be much shorter than 15-20 exercises. For example, legendary MMA fighter Randy Couture’s circuit training routine consists of bent over rows, upright rows, military presses, good mornings, lunges, squat push presses, and deadlifts. He does 8 reps per exercise and repeats 3-5 times with 1 minute of rest between circuits.
Randy Couture Circuit Training
If you’d like another perspective on circuit training, check out my friend Kelly’s post at Fitness Overhaul.
Create Your Own Circuit
There are an endless number of circuit training exercises that you can include in your workout routine. Try grouping some of your favorites from above to form your own circuit weight training routine. Perform a high intensity set or two at the end of your regular strength training routine for a nice cardio workout that will help burn fat and preserve muscle.
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