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Balance Your Workouts with Circuit Training

December 7, 2012 | Z Altug

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Create a more balanced workout with circuit training. It's a more functional method, because it involves moving from one activity to the next with varying amounts of rest, depending on your goals and level of conditioning. Athletes can use circuit training to emphasize aerobic, strength, flexibility or balance in their conditioning programs. (Read more on the STACK Circuit Training page.)

Circuit training has many advantages for athletes. When you're in a time crunch, combining aerobic and strength training provides a total-body workout in a shorter period of time. Since you use different equipment, movements, intensities and exercises, your body is constantly challenged. This helps prevent overuse injuries and avoids mental burnout.

However, circuit training is not for everyone, especially those who lack access to a variety of equipment. And if you want to emphasize either the strength or the aerobic component for a sport or event, you might be better off training each component separately. Also, if you're coming off an injury, a circuit program could prove too challenging, so make sure you work at a slower pace and incorporate sufficient amounts of rest.

Want to get started? The following is a basic format guideline for a circuit training program. Both beginner and advanced athletes can use it by tailoring the exercises to meet their individual needs and by varying the intensity. Sets and reps depend on your specific fitness level. Be creative when designing your own circuit. Try heading out to a local gym, track or stadium. Use a variety of exercises, and change them weekly to challenge different muscles and prevent exercise burnout.

Basic Circuit Training Exercise Workout

  • Warm up with mobility or calisthenic exercises for five to 10 minutes, followed by
  • Walk, jog or run in place or on a treadmill for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do a set of Squats
  • Ride a stationary bike at an intense pace for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do  set of Push-Ups
  • Walk, jog or run in place or on a treadmill for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do a set of Bridging
  • Ride a stationary bike at an intense pace for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do a set of Dumbbell Rows
  • Walk, jog or run in place or on a treadmill for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do a set of Heel Raises
  • Ride a stationary bike at an intense pace for one to five minutes
  • Stop and do a set of Side Planks
  • End by cooling down with a slow walk, bike or treadmill for five minutes, then stretch upper and lower body
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
Z Altug
- Z Altug, PT, MS, CSCS, NSCA-PT, is a licensed physical therapist and athletic performance specialist out of Los Angeles. He co-authored the 2012 Healthy Lifestyle...
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