I have many clients coming to me for training, who have been performing strength training for a long time at gyms, where some of them don’t understand why they are not able to run even 10 – 20 minutes without break. They say they are training hard 4-6 times per week. The thing is, that most of these have been doing mostly strength training, and hardly any fitness / cardio or endurance training. Well, the truth is that you don’t increase your fitness level and cardio capacity by just lifting weights. How about doing some training that increases both strength and cardio capacity? You don’t mind this double effect of training, do you? This is where circuit training comes into the picture. It is also worth mentioning that this an excellent form of alternative training, for example if you have an injury that prevents you from doing the normal running. If you have an injury, you need of course to adapt the exercises to the injury, possibly in consultation with a professional.
Normal strength training is not sufficient if the heart, lungs and the oxygen / blood circulation system shall work hard enough to improve. Even if you get tired from it, it does not put enough requirements to the system to increase your fitness level. There are however training methods that combine requirements to muscles and the circulation system. One of these is what we call circuit training. The principle of this training is that you circulate between different exercises, where some have emphasis on strength and some on fitness.
So, how do you do this?
My example, see below, is performed in intervals; 45 sec/pause 15 sec. The exercises are alternating between strength and fitness training. The principle is that the fitness exercises, jump rope and running with high knees, are performed between the strengthening exercises. Repeat this program two times in the first sessions. After a few sessions you can increase to 3 repeats per session. If you have an injury that prevents you from doing any of the exercises, e.g. the runningh with high knee, just replace it with something else. Just remember the alternation between fitness / cardio and strength training.
1. The plank (see picture)
2. Jump rope 45 sec
3. Back: Stand on “all 4” (knees, feet and hands at the floor), lift leg and arm diagonally
4. Running with high knee lifts 45 sec
5. Push ups
6. Jump rope 45 sec
7. Toe lift
8. Running with high knee lifts 45 sec
9. Lower back: Lie down on front, stretch out, lift right and left leg alternating
10. Jump rope 45 sec
11. Sit ups
12. Running with high knee lifts 45 sec
13. Dips (see picture)
14. Jump rope 45 sec
15. Squats, down to 90 degrees angle between lower leg and thighs
16. Running with high knee lifts 45 sec
17. Hip flexors (see picture)
This circuit training has many advantages. It increases the supply of blood to the muscles, leading to a more efficient supply of oxygen and nutrients. Then it also becomes easier for the cells to get rid of waste products, such as lactic acid. Further, the muscle cells themselves go through some changes. The number of and the size of the energy processing units within the cells – the mithocondries – increases, resulting in a higher capacity for the muscles to consume oxygen in the process of metabolism.
The circuit training further develop the red muscle fibres, which is an important factor for muscular endurance. Consequently, circuit training will increase the muscles’ strength and endurance, but not their volume. But for the typical active person who wants to cover the body’s need for some strength training, circuit training works well.
Author: Ingrid Kristiansen