Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Artilce # 314. What Is Circuit Training?



What Is Circuit Training?
Circuit training is short bursts of resistance exercise using moderate weights and frequent repetitions, followed quickly by another burst of exercise targeting a different muscle group.
Because the exerciser switches between muscle groups, no rest is needed between exercises. This gets the heart rate up, which usually doesn't happen during resistance exercise. Sometimes, to up heart rate further, aerobics are sprinkled between the resistance exercises.
They are set to give more resistance the faster you go, so you don't have to adjust that. There are 15 machines. So you go on one machine for 30 seconds, and then jog on a pad for 30 seconds. Then you go on the next machine, and then jog. Once around [the machines] -- 15 minutes. We go twice around. Then you're done!
A recording signals when to change machines or jog. Every 10 minutes, the exercisers check their heart rate.
"Ideally," says Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA, in Quincy, Mass., "you get to 40% to 60% of maximum heart rate."


Is Circuit Training Enough?
According to Westcott, a circuit workout improves both strength and endurance, and jump-starts metabolism.
"When those women leave the gym, they are still burning a third more calories than they did in the workout -- and this goes on for hours!" he says. "Once you build muscle, muscle burns more calories [than fat], so you continue to burn more."
Although weight training has traditionally been a male pastime (think Ah-nold), it's important for women, who tend to lose muscle mass at the rate of 1% per year in their late 30s and 40s. This muscle often gets replaced by fat. But you need muscles to cushion joints and help protect against osteoporosis, among other benefits. That's not to mention the trimmer, tighter appearance you'll gain by toning up.
Circuit training works because it's short and sweet and people actually do it. (Many gyms, as well as a chain called Health Inspirations, offer circuit training to both sexes.) "It's brief, it's basic, it's consistent; no frills, over quickly" is how Westcott puts it.


Circuit Training at Home
If driving to the gym (much less working out in front of God and everybody) is a deterrent, Westcott recommends setting up a modified circuit at home. This way, you can also tailor your circuit to your fitness level. Beginners, for example, might use 5-pound weights and move up as their strength improves.

Your home circuit could go like this:
·         30 seconds of squats
·         30 seconds on a stationary bike, or jogging in place or on a treadmill 
·         30 seconds of lunges (watch those knees!)
·         30 seconds of cycling or jogging
·         30 seconds of chest presses on a weight bench or sturdy table
·         30 seconds of cycling or jogging
·         30 seconds of bent-over rows on a weight bench or sturdy table
·         30 seconds of cycling or jogging
·         30 seconds of shoulder presses (push your arms straight overhead with palms facing out
·         30 seconds of cycling or jogging
·         30 seconds of biceps curls
·         30 seconds of cycling or jogging
Repeat the whole cycle at least three times.
And you don't even need to invest in weights, at least not at first. Bryant says you can fill gallon milk jugs with sand or water to make a weight.
The important thing, Bryant says, is to make an effort. "Exercise is cumulative. Each time you do it, the benefits add to the last," he says. "I say it's like loose change. It adds up."
And to make sure you keep at it, choose an activity that fits into your schedule -- and that you enjoy.


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