Speed Up Your Weight Loss with Circuit Training

My friend Rafael and I started going to the gym together – and there’s no shortage of funny stories from our adventures there.  There was the time he struggled with a pretty light amount of resistance on the squat machine, and said to me, “You couldn’t do this, could you?” I wasn’t insulted, but  did show him a simple technique – pointing out that it’s all about the core.

Now, my workout buddy’s biggest revelation came when I introduced him  to the concept of circuit training – a key factor in developing my own strength and stamina.  Circuit training requires you to move  from one exercise to another quickly.  For example, you do one set of a strength training move, followed by a quick burst of cardio, and so on.  This is the style often used in those “boot camp” classes you may have seen in your local club.  So instead of spending 60 minutes working out, suddenly you’re out of the gym in just 30 minutes, and you’ve burned twice as many calories in the process.  After I took Rafael through his first circuit workout, I’ll never forget his response:  “I can’t believe I’ve wasted all these years!”


Circuit training isn’t just for fitness warriors

You can use this technique to make your workout count no matter your fitness level.   Even if you’re just walking in place, you don’t have to just walk in place:  Try doing 30 seconds of low-knees, followed by 30 seconds of high-knees.  For more seasoned workout buffs, try adding some treadmill work to your strength training routine.  (Run for one minute, jump off, do one set of an upper body move – push-ups for example – followed by one lower body – perhaps some lunges – jump back on the treadmill, and repeat.)

What I love about circuit training is that it’s structured and contained; there’s a beginning, middle and end.  And even better?   It’s the ultimate boredom buster.  Since you’re in constant motion from one thing to the next, you don’t have a lot of time to think about your grocery list, or what you’d rather be doing.  You only have a few seconds to focus on what you’re doing right now, and what you’re going to do next.  And couldn’t we all stand to live our lives a little more in the moment?


Build Your Own Circuit:

Try these five moves – and instead of resting between each set, do 60 seconds of medium-to-high intensity jogging-in-place.  Once you’ve completed the circuit, if  you have it in you….repeat it!


1) Discus Thrower

Stand with feet hip distance apart, holding light weights in each  hand.  Push your hips back into a squat and place the weights near  your right ankle.  As you rise, keep the left foot parallel and pivot  on the right toe, squeezing the right glute, turning your hips to face the left.  As you do this, sweep the weights in a fluid motion  from your feet, up and out, until they are over your head on the  left.  Do 12 on each side.


2) Hack Squat with Bicep Curls

Stand with feet hip distance apart holding medium to heavy weights.   Lift your left foot and drive the heel out, placing it on the floor about 12 inches in front your right foot.  Sit back into the hack squat by pushing your hips behind you, keeping your chest up.  As you come out of the squat, do a bicep curl.  Do 12 on each side.


3)  Push Ups

Get into push-up/plank position with your hands under your shoulders, tucking toes underneath you.  Keeping your abdominals contracted, slowly lower yourself to the floor to achieve about a 90-degree bend  in the elbows.  Exhale as you press back up.  Do 12 repetitions.

4) Penny in the Pocket with a One-Arm Row

Stand tall with your weight on your right foot.  Tap your left foot  on the floor behind the right keeping yourweight on the right foot. Using your left arm, pretend there is a penny on the floor that you need to bend over to pick up, then stand back up and put it in your pocket.

Do 15 with the right leg forward and 15 on the other side; that’s one set.


5) Kayaking

Sit upright with knees bent, feet on the floor, chest lifted.  Lift your feet off the floor, balancing on your sacrum, tucking your knees into your chest.  Place your hands on the floor by your hips. Swivel your knees side to side.

Advanced option:  Lift your hands off the floor and move the arms in opposition of the legs.  As the knees and legs drop to the right, your hands and elbows will aim at your left hip.  Do 30 repetitions.