Circuit style workouts are a great way to inject a bit of variety into your routine.
There are so many options to go for, that you could do a different format every day of the week. Not that everyone has that much energy in them. Make use of the equipment in the gym, use whatever weights you have at home, or just rely on good old bodyweight exercises.
Circuits are super versatile, meaning you can adapt them to whatever you have available to you. Pick your preferred exercises and train in any way you want but keep motivated with a structure you know if going to deliver you an effective workout.
Superset Style Circuit
Supersets refer to two exercises performed back to back with no rest in between. These two exercises might target the same muscle groups, antagonist muscle groups, or unrelated muscle groups. It depends on how intense you want it to be.
Start by choosing pairs of exercises, aim for about 5 pairs, or 10 exercises in total. If you’re doing a full body, each pair might be made up of an upper body and lower body exercises. Or if you’re in the mood for an intense upper body session, choose pairs where both exercises target the same primary muscle group. Or if you’re well into your fitness journey, target opposing muscle groups within the pair to give yourself a well balanced work out.
Whether it’s for a time limit, or a number of reps, perform each exercise in the pair back to back, with no rest in between. Between pairs is when you take the rest. Do each pair twice before moving onto the next pair.
500 Rep Challenge
Exactly as it sounds, the aim here is to do 500 reps.
Choose 5 compound exercises. Deadlifts, squats, and push-ups would work well. Add in some more cardio based ones to get your heart rate up. Mountain climbers, froggers, or burpees should do that. You have as long as you want. But you must do 100 reps of each exercise in total. Aim for 20 at a time to break it up nicely.
When you hit 500, you’re done.
You can make it easier for yourself by reducing the target rep number or harder by increasing it. Feel free to add on more exercises if you do so.
Pyramid Style Structure
Pyramid structures can also be called triangle structures or diamond structures.
The idea is to gradually decrease the number of reps or time worked for each round of the circuit.
For example, you would start by doing 18 reps of each exercise. Then you rest. When you get going again, you might reduce the rep number down to 16.
Once you’ve hit zero, you’re done.
This kind of workout is great for HIIT and when you’re looking to get your heart rate up. Quick and efficient, it keeps the momentum so you can do more in less time.
Station Style Circuits
Mirroring the way a lot of gym classes structure their workouts, setting stations for each exercise in your circuit is a good way to achieve a balanced full body workout that motivates you.
Select your preferred bits of kit first, so you know exactly where you’re going next once you’ve finished an exercise.
Have a cardio station. A body weight station. A resistance machine station. A kettlebell or dumbbell station. Or you can define your stations by muscle group. Whatever suits you best.
Circle your way around the stations, performing each exercise for either a defined amount of time or reps. Rest at the end of each round and go for as many rounds as you like.
Every Minute, On the Minute. (EMOM)
This is a good one for when you’ve got a short and defined time period to workout for. 15 minutes? Great, let’s go.
Choose your exercises and set a number of reps to achieve within one minute. Working minute by minute, you aim to perform that number of reps within the 60 seconds. If you finish before the minute is up, the remainder of that time is your rest time.
This will get harder as the minutes go on, so try and set a sustainable number of reps that allows you at least some rest at the end of each minute.
As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP)
A simple circuit style that involves moving through rounds as many times as you can.
Pick 5 exercises and define a number of reps for each. Set your final timer for how long you want to work out for. Only got 25 minutes for lunch? Plenty of time.
Do as many rounds as you possibly can until the timer goes off. Working through those 5 exercises again and again, taking the rest time you need between each round.
It’s simple, but it’s a good one for progression. As when you start to see the number of rounds you can manage in the same time frame increasing, you know you’re getting stronger.
So whatever way you want to do it, keep exercising.