If you're like a lot of us,
there's not enough days in the week, or time in the day to get in the
recommended amount of cardio. 3 to 5 days per week at
a minimum of 20-30 minutes in your
target heart rate zone is
recommended for health and fitness goals. But wait,
resistance training (machines, free weights, bands, etc...)
is also recommended for 2-3 days per week for most major
muscle groups. If you have that kind of time to
workout 5-8 days per week (I know, there aren't 8 days in a
week), or to be disciplined enough to do a full cardio
workout on the same day as your weight training then great!
Unfortunately, not everyone has that kind of time.|
A circuit (also known as a
complex) is a series of two or more exercises performed
in succession for a specific number of reps with limited
rest intervals. In other words, you move through one
exercise after the other, keeping your heart rate up with
limiting recovery time . You can perform them with
free weights, various exercise machines, or your own body weight, with any combination being
incorporated into the circuit.
Circuit training can hit the
entire body in one fell swoop, or you can do a circuit for
the upper and lower body separately. Circuit training
workouts are great for toning and trimming (fat loss) in
addition to endurance training, but are typically not as
popular for muscle building because of the reduced amount of
weight lifted due to the limited recovery periods.
Performing the exercises in a
circuit once through is called a run. In the beginning
of a program, just one run will be sufficient, but as you
improve you'll be able to do more runs (up to 3 is
recommended) and further challenge yourself, obtaining more
benefits. You can also increase the intensity of the
workout by reducing your rest time between runs, increasing
the weight used, or increasing the number of repetitions.
Circuit training is one of my
personal favorites when working with clients that want to
tone and trim (which is pretty much everybody). There
are a number of attractive benefits in addition to getting
your cardio and resistance (toning) done at the same time.
Circuit training is efficient and takes less time to
complete more exercises. The recovery process that
your body goes through after each workout will generally
raise your metabolism for a day or so afterward which means
you are still burning calories at an elevated rate.
Studies have shown that the calories that you burn in the
hours after a workout come largely from stored fat, as
opposed to muscle or carbohydrates.
When planning a circuit, it
is best to use compound exercises that work major muscle
groups. Compound exercises incorporate
multiple muscle groups which typically means that more than
one of your joints is moving during the motion of the
exercise. When designing a total body circuit, I like
to alternate between body zones: lower body, abs, upper
body, lower body, abs, upper body.. etc.. This allows
some recovery between muscle groups allowing better
performance throughout the entire circuit.
You can check out a few of my
favorite body weight circuits posted on
Sure... if you're working out
at a gym or club, there are some downsides. You
probably won't have time to BS with your pals as much.
You'll probably also be working up more of a sweat as you
jump from exercise to exercise. Hey, you're there for
a purpose... just focus and get it done!
10 Ways to Gain
- Fuel up - Find out
how many calories you are currently eating and add 500
more daily. Try to take in one gram of protein per
pound of body weight each day.
- Limit Cardio - Up
to 2 days per week of light cardio at 30 minutes per
session is ok. To lose fat while sparing muscle,
you'd do even better to perform sprint intervals.
For example: run all out for a minute, jog for 2
minutes, continue this pattern for 30 minutes.
- Do Less - Do no
more than 20 sets per muscle group - closer to 12 is even
better. Your reps should be between 6 and 12 per set
for the most muscle growth, and your workouts should never
last much longer than 45 minutes. In lieu of more
volume, use heavier weights and move through each rep at a
controlled speed. Your sets should last between 40
and 70 seconds -- any less, and you're not tensing your
muscles long enough to shock them into growth.
- Use Full-Body Workouts
or a Split Routine - You'll probably get the best
results from your workout by either training the whole
body in a single workout or concentrating only on the
upper body in one session and the lower body in another.
Concentrate on lifts that involve lots of muscles at once
(compound exercises), such as squats, deadlifts, presses,
rows, and pull-ups.
- Stretch -
Stretching of any kind will help keep you flexible,
prevent injury, and improve recovery between workouts.
- Eat Regularly - You
should be wolfing down five to six small meals a day.
As long as good-quality fuel keeps coming into your body -
particularly protein and carbs - you'll have the calories
to build muscle and the metabolism boost to lose fat.
- Change Everything -
Every four to six weeks, you need to alter some part of
your routine, whether it's the number of reps you
do, the amount of time you rest, the exercises you
perform, or any other training variable. Keep a
journal of your workouts to record your progress.
- Train the Whole Body
- The more muscles you involve - either in one exercise or
one training session - the greater the hormone release
you'll get from your training, and that stimulates muscle
growth all day long. Hitting each muscle group
(agonist/antagonist) with roughly the same volume will
ensure balanced training, allowing you to grow quickly and
safely, avoiding injuries and preserving flexibility.
- Drink Shakes -
Surround your workout with nutrition, starting with a high
protein/carbohydrate meal about an hour beforehand.
Mix up a protein shake that has a ratio of about two grams
of carbs for every gram of protein, and sip that
throughout your workout. Afterward, finish the drink
or mix a new one and drink it down quickly (the first 30
minutes post workout allows for the best protein
absorption). Believe it or not, whole foods are not
the best option post workout - they take too long to
- Recover - The ideal
amount of sleep is seven to eight hours per night.
You can let loose a night or two each week, but when you
do, try to make up for it ASAP. Train no more than
four times a week. As for your job, do whatever you
can to avoid excess stress - chronic nervousness elevates
cortisol, a hormone that makes your body store fat and
Fitness (June/July 2007)
Bodyweight Exercise of the Month!
Piked Shoulder Press
I'll tell you, trying to hold still for these pictures was a
pain in the butt! The blood was rushing to my head,
and... oh, never mind, enough whining. It's sometimes
difficult to find a body weight exercise that works the same
muscles as some machine or free weight exercises. This
piked shoulder press does a good job of working the shoulders
and triceps, much like a military or overhead press. Due
to the piked position, it is somewhat easier to perform than a
handstand push-up, but try doing it on a stability ball and it
will add seriously challenge your core as you try to remain
shoulders, arms (deltoids, triceps brachii)
Whether performing the piked shoulder press on a ball or on a
chair, start in a push-up position with your feed on the
chair/ball. Walk your hands in while sticking your butt
in the air. Try to keep a flat back and maintain a good
press position. Lower your head to the floor and press
The Mind Game
Did you ever wonder why you have lapses and
breakdowns in “willpower?” Or why some days you just can’t drag yourself
to the gym? Or why you “fall off the wagon” completely? Or why you can’t
say “no” to those chocolate chip cookies? It’s because negative
programming in your subconscious mind is controlling your behavior.
The most important part of getting in great
shape is simply making up your mind to do so. You get in shape by
setting goals and thinking about them all day long. Mental training
increases your ability to focus. If you don’t channel your mental
energies properly, even the best diet and training program won’t help
because you will always “sabotage” yourself.
Like the ship’s crew, your subconscious
mind accepts every command your conscious mind gives it – its sole purpose
is to obey and carry out your orders, even if you give stupid ones like
“I’ll never see my abs.” Frequent repetition of thoughts (mental orders)
is one of the most certain ways to penetrate the subconscious mind. This
is why, by repeating “I can’t lose weight” over and over, your
subconscious will see to it that you never lose weight because that’s its
job – to follow your every command literally and without question. If you
program your subconscious with negative suggestions often enough, your
subconscious will lead you right into cheating on your diet, skipping
workouts or some other form of self-sabotage.
Because of the way your subconscious works,
it’s extremely important for you to focus all your thoughts on what you
want to achieve, not on what you want to avoid. This is not mere
semantics; it’s a very important distinction. “The more you dwell on
what you don’t want, the more of it you create.” - Louise Hay
|Negative statements and self-defeating
I can’t lose weight no matter what I do.
Why is it so hard for me to lose weight?
I have a slow metabolism.
It’s not my fault because I don’t have
I don't want to be fat anymore.
I wish I could get rid of this gut.
It’ll never work because I like food too
I don’t have the willpower to get lean.
I would work out but I don’t have time.
I hate being fat.
I’ll never see my abs.
I hate cardio.
Bob Proctor, a master success coach and
creator of the Goal Achiever program, suggests saying “NEXT” or “SWITCH”
the instant you catch yourself in the middle of a negative thought or
self-defeating question. Then, immediately replace it with a positive
thought, affirmation, or an empowering question. Simply overwrite the old
thought with a new one. Replace “I’ll try” with “I’ll do it.” Instead of
“I should” say “I must.” Completely banish “I can’t” from your vocabulary.
Soon you’ll find that your mind switches its “polarity” and the negative
thoughts pop up less.
|Positive statements and empowering
How great am I going to feel after I
finish my workout today?
I am getting leaner every day.
I like the way I look.
I am 100% responsible for my results.
Whatever it takes, I’ll do it.
I like eating healthy foods.
I love working out.
I have time for anything I am committed
I can do it.
Set SMART Goals, write them down, review
them on a regular, if not daily basis. Then simply become
conscious of what you are thinking and be positive! You'll be
surprised how much of an effect this can have on your progress!
It's the start of the summer, pool & beach season, school's
out, plenty of yard work to do, lot's of outdoor
Sure it can
be difficult to go to the gym, or do anything inside when
it's so nice outside. If you're having trouble with
that, then plan accordingly. Hit the gym in the
morning or the evening. Go to one of those parks and
hit the "life trail" with those push-up, sit-up, chin-up
stations, while your jogging/walking in between... or make your own.
There's plenty of outdoor exercise equipment if you just go
to your local playground! Walk, run, bike, kayak...
there's no excuse for getting some good cardio in the nice
should be excited to get out and get moving, be smart about
it! You need to take into the consideration the heat
and humidity and make sure that you are keeping well
hydrated for safety purposes as well as to get the best
performance from your workout. Check out this link in
the July '06
eNewsletter for more information.
line is.. if you're planning to play hard, then be sure to
work hard too! Why waste all that hard work trying to
get healthy, just so you have to start over again? And
if you haven't started working out again, don't you owe it
For prior issues of this
newsletter go to
"Whatever your mind can conceive and believe
it can achieve."