Circuit training, especially for fat loss, has grown in popularity, replacing traditional weight training for many men and women seeking fat loss. Just what is circuit training? Is circuit training really superior to traditional weight training for fat burning?
Is circuit training a gimmick? Or is circuit training truly the key to maximum fat loss and losing stubborn abdominal fat? And if losing fat isn’t your goal but fitness is, is circuit training better for fitness than standard weight training?
Definition of circuit training: The term circuit training doesn’t have the same meaning for every man and women. But usually, circuit training refers to being in continual motion throughout the entire workout, rather than pumping out weight lifting routines, then resting outright in between the weight lifting routines.
In circuit training, the man or woman does exercise routines in between weight lifting sets, such as jumping jacks, abdominal exercises, trotting up and down stairs, stepping routines on a platform, jogging in place, mountain climbers, etc.
Fitness trainers who support circuit training say that it keeps the heart rate elevated, and this burns the most calories during the workout. But if you throw a rest in between weight lifting routines, this calms the heart, the person burns fewer calories, and there is less fat loss.
But what circuit training advocates fail to consider is something called EPOC: exercise-induced excess post oxygen consumption. This mouthful translates to: faster resting metabolic rate following the exercise !
But to achieve EPOC, the exercise routines must be ultra intense. And in order to make weight lifting routines very intense, you must REST in between workout sets! Because when you rest, you can then apply full-fledged effort towards the next set.
Pushing to what’s known as “muscle failure” (complete muscle exhaustion) will trigger increased production of human growth hormone and testosterone. These hormones accelerate fat burning, which then occurs for many hours after the workout is finished.
If you are jogging, hopping, trotting, bouncing, leg raising, stutter-stepping or doing some other stunt in between weight lifting sets, this will sap your energy and prevent you from applying 100 percent effort towards the next set. You will thus never reach a high-enough intensity to trigger more hormone release. These hormones are natural fat burners.
In fact, HGH and testosterone are the most potent natural fat burners. And women, don’t fret: The increased testosterone will not grow you a beard. But it will be enough to accelerate fat loss and tighten muscles.
It is perfectly fine to completely rest in between weight training sets. In fact, it is mandatory, if you want to push your very hardest for each set. This way, your heart rate will soar for each weight lifting set; it will rise a lot higher than if you went into the set pre-fatigued from those jumping jacks, stepping drills or stair case climbs. If you don’t need to passively rest after a weight training routine, then you didn’t do it hard enough.
Now, the other day I did jumping drills on the flat side of a BOSU board, immediately followed by pushups with my feet very elevated, immediately followed by reps with the abdominal roller. In other words, I did not rest in between these sets. However, I was pretty spent after the abdominal roller and THEN took a nice several minute rest. Doing two or three different sets intensely in a row are just fine, but then take your rest.
The more severe spikes in heart rate from traditional weight lifting routines will induce a higher level of fitness than will a more steady-stream (though continually elevated) heart rate level induced by circuit training. The high heart rate spikes in traditional weight lifting (carried out with maximum intensity) will be much higher than the mean heart rate level in circuit training. This will make you much fitter than circuit training.