Bodyweight Circuits

Bodyweight Circuits

 

Let’s be honest, sometimes there isn’t the time or the equipment for a regular strength and conditioning workout but that’s no excuse for not working out.

 

Bodyweight workouts and bodyweight circuits are fantastic on so many levels. They are brilliant for cardio, give a muscle pump like a full-blooded weights workout and can be completed in a matter of minutes.

 

Research has shown that short, intense workouts are just as effective at burning fat and toning muscle as medium intensity hour-long sessions. The trick is to ramp up the intensity by mixing exercises that use opposing muscle groups and adding in core and cardio movements. Ideally the movements should be multi-joint and require bracing through the core.

 

For circuit training I prefer to use time intervals rather than reps as it forces me to crank out as many reps as possible. I want to feel spent by the end of the interval as I know the next exercise will be working a different body part. Be strict on the rest periods as they keep the heart rate up and at the same time allow enough recovery to rip into the next set.

Gymboss Interval Timer

Gymboss Interval Timer

 

My preferred way of timing intervals is using the GymBoss. It is a fantastic bit of kit that allows you to customize the interval length, number of intervals and a rest period. It is simple to use and easy to attach to clothing. Click here to find out more or to buy one.

 

Remember – Warm up prior to the circuit, drink plenty of fluids and go hard!

 

Body Weight Circuit – Full Body Circuit

 

Tri-sets are ideal for full body workouts as we can use one exercise for upper body, one for lower and one core cardio exercise.

 

Tri-sets are shown in text as a series of letters and numbers. For example:

 

The A circuit

A1 – Squat – 60 seconds

A2 – Push-Ups – 60 seconds

A3 – Mountain Climbers – 60 seconds

60 seconds rest

Repeat three times.

 

Follow up with the B circuit.

B1 – Reverse Lunges – 60 seconds

B2 – Triceps Push-Ups – 60 seconds

B3 – Burpees – 60 seconds

60 seconds rest

Repeat three times.

 

Same letter exercises are performed in order for the required number of reps with no rest until the end of each circuit (e.g. A1, A2, A3). In the above example a set of squats are immediately followed, no rest, by a set of push-ups, no rest, then by mountain climbers. After allowing the rest period of 60 seconds the circuit is performed twice more.

 

The Sciencey Bit

 

For those of you who, like me, love the science of exercise, here are the details:

 

The lack of rest between exercises keeps the heart rate high, works the muscles hard and causes the body to produce large amounts of lactate.

 

The release of lactate is a pre-cursor for the body to release Testosterone and Growth Hormone (GH) that not only help build lean muscle mass but also metabolize fat stores. The mix of powerful muscle building and fat burning hormones is what makes circuit training so effective.

 

Have a look at this link for scientific proof of the lactate/GH relationship.

 

As an interesting side note, many people make the mistake of assuming lactic acid causes muscle fatigue. Lactic acid does not cause muscle fatigue. Muscles working in the anaerobic zone draw their energy from glycolysis (breakdown of glucose) which results in lactate and hydrogen production. Lactate can be used for further energy needs whilst the hydrogen accumulation can lower pH and increase acidity.

 

The take home message is that lactate is a useful energy source and isn’’t the reason you can’t do 1000 burpees!

 

Full Body Circuit

 

My Full Body Circuit consists of two tri-sets that are performed three times each. To advance the workout, complete each exercise for 90 seconds. To regress, perform each for 30 seconds.

 

Remember, you must complete as many reps as possible during the time. You need to really push yourself out of your comfort zone.

 

Equipment required – Clock, stopwatch or interval timer.

Time required (nic warm up) – 21 minutes intermediate, 12 minutes beginner (30sec exercise)

Difficulty rating – 8/10 – You’ll be spent by the end!

 

Warm up – 1/2 range squats 30 secs, wall push-ups 30 secs, high knees 30 secs. Repeat 3 times.

 

A1 – Bodyweight Prisoner Squats – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuits - Prisoner Squat Bodyweight Circuits - Prisoner Squat Side View Bodyweight Circuits - Prisoner Squat Bodyweight Circuits - Prisoner Squat Side View

A2 – Push-Ups – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuits Bodyweight Circuit -Push-Up Bodyweight Circuit - Push-Ups

A3 – Mountain Climbers – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuits - Mountain Climbers Bodyweight Circuits - Mountain Climbers Bodyweight Circuits - Mountain Climbers

 

Rest 60 seconds

Repeat twice more (3 sets in total)

 

B1 – Reverse Lunges – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuits - Reverse Lunges Bodyweight Circuits - Reverse Lunge Bodyweight Circuits - Reverse Lunges

B2 – Triceps Push-Ups – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuit - Tricep Push-Up Bodyweight Circuit - Tricep Press-Up

Bodyweight Circuit - Tricep Push-Up Bodyweight Circuit - Tricep Push-Up

B3 – Burpees – 60 seconds

Bodyweight Circuits - Burpees Bodyweight Circuits - Burpees Bodyweight Circuits - Burpee

 

Rest 60 seconds

Repeat twice more (3 sets in total)

 

These twenty one minutes of bodyweight circuits will incinerate body-fat and tone muscles that you’ll want to show off.

 

I’ve just provided everything you need to get fitter and stronger. You need a very small amount of space, no equipment and just 21 minutes. There are no excuses that will work here, either you want a healthier body or you don’t. Stop procrastinating and do it now. Action has power so stop everything else and give yourself these 21 minutes. Your time is now…..

 

If you enjoyed this circuit and have access to dumbbells here is my Dumbbell Circuit. If you, like me, are a lover of Burpees try my brutal Burpee Ladder workout.

 

Exercise is just one aspect of a fit and healthy life, diet is another. Have a look at my tips on healthy eating and losing weight.

 

Return to Bodyweight Workouts from Bodyweight Circuits.