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Circuit training – the all-in-one workout for a toned physique

Learn how circuit training can benefit you.

Written by Kriti Saraswat |Updated : February 28, 2014 11:03 AM IST

Circuit trainingIf a total body workout which helps build muscle, increase strength and improve cardiovascular function is what you are looking for, you should try circuit training. A high intensity workout, it involves doing a number of exercises in a loop. Learn more about it to improve your overall fitness levels.

What is circuit training?

According to celebrity fitness trainer Ramona Braganza, 'In fitness, circuit training is a method used to increase one's body's strength and/or aerobic or anaerobic conditioning. Various exercises are performed in a row one after the other with minimum rest time between, to complete one set in a programme.'

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There are two ways to perform these exercises horizontal and vertical. In the horizontal way, one performs all the sets of a single exercise in one go before moving on to the next type. In vertical, one performs one set of different exercises and then repeats the circuit.

Circuit training essentially focuses on working out your entire body including your heart in order to have multiple benefits. There is little amount of rest so the exerciser's heart rate is elevated throughout, never reaching its resting stage in-between. Also, even after one finishes the circuit, they continue burning calories throughout the day leading to fat loss and increase in lean muscle mass.

Benefits of circuit training

  • Increases the body's strength
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness
  • Tones your physique
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Helps define your muscles

What exercises can I do as part of circuit training?

Circuits don't have to follow any rules, you can have as many exercises in a row as you like. Though circuit training has its many benefits, it can be difficult for first-time exercisers. One can start slow and then pick up pace as they get more confident and strong. There are two ways to go about the weight training bit of the circuit. One can start with heavy weights and then move to lighter ones or vice versa. Both are acceptable and the exerciser can customise it according to their fitness levels and stamina. Any resistance exercise can be done in a circuit.

Ramona who has developed the 3-2-1 workout also uses circuit training as part of her training method. 'The 3-2-1 is made of 3 cardio segments, 2 circuits of strength training and 1 core. The way I do my circuits they are referred to as giant sets meaning 3 exercises in a row,' says Ramona.

She suggests choosing exercises which target specific body parts. Here are 2 examples of circuits you can follow:

Circuit A a chest exercise, a quad exercise and a triceps exercise

Circuit B a back exercise, a hamstring exercise and a bicep exercise

'The order of the workout I do is cardio, circuit A, cardio, circuit B, cardio then core.

In my circuits, I choose to put 3 exercises in a row, one after the other then take a rest period and repeat this rotation 2-3 times,' she says. Both beginners as well as professionals can follow this circuit. The intensity is adjusted based on the number of sets performed.

Cardio exercises you can include in circuit training are:

  • Skipping
  • Jogging
  • Treadmill
  • Elliptical trainer
  • Stationary bikes

Take your fitness trainer's help to help devise a circuit best-suited to your fitness levels.

Ramona Braganza is a celebrity fitness trainer who is well-known for training the likes of Jessica Alba, Halle Berry and Ryan Reynolds. However, they're not her only clients and she has transformed the lives of thousands across the globe with her 3-2-1 fitness method which consists of 3 cardio segments, 2 circuit strength training segments and 1 core segment. She also specialises in post-pregnancy weight loss and is as adept at helping Hollywood's top ladies slim down as she is at helping her male clients add size and strength. For more on her training method, download the 3-2-1 app or buy DVDs from her website

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