Circuit training can be used for many objectives. Using high reps at low weight and moving between sets with little rest is a great fat burner. The high reps are 20 to 25 repetitions at 40% to 50% of one rep maximum lift.
The one rep maximum lift is a guess for beginners so as not to injure oneself trying to find it, but there is a more complex formula for experienced exercisers. The point of selecting a light weight is to ensure you finish all the reps.
As an experienced exerciser, I selected weights at 50% to 60% of my maximum one lift capability. During my regular non circuit work outs, I progress through sets of an exercise to the weight I cannot lift. Then I move back to the weight I can lift and do sets of 6 reps.
Therefore, I know my maximums and can adjust to find a lower percentage of that weight. I go through an 11 exercise circuit using 12 reps which is the reps for intermediate exercisers to build strength and endurance. This rep set is not applicable to building size and maximizing strength.
On my regular work out days I select two routines. I work the major muscle groups on one day. These groups are reached with squats, dead lifts, and chest presses. I work several sets for each and reach my maximum capability. These sets are meant for building strength and size.
On my second day, I work the upper body focusing on arms and pulls. These will include sitting military press, tricep pulls, curls, lateral raises, and cable pull downs. Once again, I will progress in sets to the weight I cannot lift and then go back and do sets of lesser weight.
Working out at the gym three times a week, I do circuits on one of those days. In between days, I am riding my bike and then swimming to get steady state aerobics. Steady state aerobics use fatty acids for fuel and improve the circulatory system. Aerobics are important for any resistance trainer to prevent intramuscular fat from forming around muscle fibers.
Intramuscular fat prevents blood from circulating into muscles eliminating waste and delivering glucose and nutrients to exercising muscles. This results in quick exhaustion of muscles in aerobic exercises. A lean muscular weight lifter might not be able to run around the block because of the "invisible fat" called endomysial fat.
Circuit training has an aerobic element in keeping the heart rate at a selected level. Maximal heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 208. Exercising at an intense level of 70% of heart rate uses glucose for fuel and can burn up to 800 calories an hour doing resistance training.
Circuit training can be adjusted in many ways to increase weight, increase reps, increase sets, and exercise at a target heart rate intensity. Exercising at a lower heart rate of 50% to 60% reduces the calorie burning and aerobic affect, but might be used to lift heavier loads.
I like to do circuits at lower levels of heart rate intensity, but lift continuously heavier loads in each successive work out. Another approach to increasing intensity would be to increase reps per exercise.
I change exercises each time for circuits to work the same muscle groups but to get a different approach. I might do incline chest presses one time and flat bench presses the next time. I might do cable chest pulls one time and cable pull downs the next time. I also vary my ab workout at the end of each circuit.
When you have completed a circuit work out there is a great feeling of overall mellowness from having worked so many muscle groups. Beginners should work for a tiredness of 6 or 7 on a scale of 10 for exhaustion. Lower rates of exhaustion would allow more frequency in work outs. Higher levels of exhaustion should be followed with more days of recovery.
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