Design your own circuit

Last month we discussed how you can use the simple variable of rest time to increase the intensity and therefore achieve an overload to create an improvement in conditioning.

This month I want to discuss how you can start to design your own circuits to maximise your workout time!

One of the biggest issues people face when they choose to start exercising is simply finding the time. As a personal trainer and coach, I sell sessions by the hour, however, I also provide 45 minute and 30 minute sessions.

For too long now it has been commonplace to believe that an exercise session has to be an hour in duration.

“I’m just gonna nip to gym for an hour”

“I’m gonna do half an hour cardio, and half an hour on the weights…”

However, when I’ve observed what most people achieve during an hour at the gym, I believe people’s time would be better spent with a focused 15-30 mins of exercise that doesn’t require expensive gym equipment, or an expensive membership, and doesn’t have countless distractions that can really hinder progress towards your goals.

Couple this with the fact that, if like me, your time is precious and you’d prefer to spend it with the people you care about in your life, bolting another hour to the start or the end of the day, whilst achievable, is not desirable.

So what’s the answer?

Use your body and time effectively!

Try circuits.

Design your workout using exercises that use different muscle groups following each other. This will allow you to get a cardio/strength workout and will really improve your overall conditioning.

The following is an example of a 6 exercise circuit.

Push exercise

Pull exercise

Leg exercise

Push exercise

Pull exercise

Core exercise

The principle of circuit training has been around for a long time and for most it is synonymous with gruelling workouts that can be intimidating and off-putting.

Circuits should be challenging but just like we discussed in previous articles, the idea is not to work to failure!

Using the above order as a template, here is an example workout:

Push = press up

Pull = bent over suitcase row

Leg = squat

Push = chair/bench dip

Pull = lying back extension

Core = sit up

There are dozens of progressions and regressions to all these exercises and as you can see, I’ve given an example of an exercise using an object that is already in the home and can be used to offer resistance (the suitcase).

Now, try a timed circuit.

Don’t chase the clock, follow it!

Attempt 30 seconds of the first exercise and then rest for 30 seconds. Continue to the next exercise for 30s and then rest 30s and so on until you’ve completed all 6 exercises of the circuit.

If this felt too easy start to change the variables; for example, try increasing the duration of each exercise/station, reduce the rest between each station, or add more stations.

Too hard? Increase the rest time, reduce the number of stations, regress the exercise.

A 6 station circuit of 30s per station will give you 3 mins work.

5 circuits x 3 minutes = 15 mins

Even with equal rest, that’s  just under half an hour of focussed training!!


TNT News Tom Barber

Performance and movement coach.


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