Weight-based circuit training with weights is an excellent way to build strength in a short amount of time. By training in a total-body circuit, you increase your efficiency and maximize your time. All you have to do is complete a short, intense routine a few times a week. You’ll definitely sweat and wear yourself out, but the benefits are well worth it.
The basic idea behind circuit training is that you perform a variety of exercises that target different areas of your body in quick succession, without stopping to rest between sets, or at least minimizing your rest period. You’ll go through one set of each of your exercises, before diving back in for a second round.
If you want to start a total-body circuit training routine, you can design your own workout. The beauty of circuit training is that you can do whatever exercises you want, depending on your goals. Choose a set of exercises that works for you. You’ll want to make sure your routine is difficult enough to keep your heart rate elevated, but know your limits. If you’re in real pain, stop exercising and take a break.
Not ready to design your own circuit? We’ve put together a basic circuit plan that will give you a full-body workout. This workout uses only dumbbells, so you can do it at home or at the gym.
1. Squat Overhead Press
- Start standing with your arms up in a military press position, one dumbbell in each hand.
- Press up with your arms, and simultaneously squat down with your legs, then return to the starting position.
- Make sure you’re squatting properly by keeping your knees in line with your toes and putting your weight on your heels.
- Squat all the way down so your butt is below your knees.
- Do 10 reps, then take a 30-second break and move on to the next exercise.
2. Plank Row
- Begin in the plank position with your hands holding dumbbells, and your legs wider than hip distance apart.
- Lift your left elbow up toward the ceiling, pulling the dumbbell up to your chest while maintaining plank position.
- Lower your left hand back to the floor, then repeat with your right hand for one rep.
- Repeat 10 times for one set, then take a 30-second break before moving on to the next exercise.
3. Side Lunge
- Start by standing with a dumbbell in each hand, resting at your sides.
- Take a step out with your right foot, and bend your right knee to lunge toward the floor.
- Bend slightly forward at your hips, so your arms hang out in front of you.
- Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times on each side for one set, then take a 30-second break before moving on to the next exercise.
4. Plié Squat With Lateral Arm Raises
- Start with your legs spread wide and your toes pointed out slightly.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides, arms straight and palms facing down.
- Bend your knees until they’re just over your ankles and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- At the same time, raise your arms straight up to the sides, so they form a T-shape with your body, parallel to the floor.
- Return to the starting position and repeat 10 times for one set before taking a 30-second break.
How To Put It All Together
Once you’ve finished all four exercises, immediately start over to complete another second. You should do the whole circuit two or three times before resting. Remember that you want to do each exercise as quickly and vigorously as possible, but never sacrifice form for speed. Learn how to do the exercises correctly, and make sure you go slow enough to do them right.
If you’re comfortable with the concept of circuit training, add some extra exercises or come up with a routine of your own. If you want a more intense circuit with higher weights, go to a gym and workout with a partner using heavier equipment.