We can all agree: everyone seems to want more time, or to make better use of the time we have! In the quest to be more efficient, many people understand the power that a regular exercise routine can have on their energy, focus, and productivity throughout the day. As a result, there is an endless number of programs and apps that offer a workout in 7 minutes, 10 minutes, or even less, and while some of these are great, and doing some exercise is always better than doing nothing, we’re focused here on how to train and live optimally! Why settle for anything less? We’ve discussed how powerful of a productivity hack doing your exercise at home can be, and today we’ll take it to the next level for how to optimize even further with circuit training!
In a recent article, Coach Mike Urso discussed the difference between “working out,” and “training.” In essence, working out is a somewhat random assortment of exercises while training is planned and structured per training goals, and an individual’s own physiological ability to perform the plan successfully while recovering adequately between sessions.
How do you make circuits?
Do you pick exercises out of a hat? Do the “Deck of Cards” workout or follow whatever you just found online?
While these add a great flair of excitement, if you have fitness or performance goals, shouldn’t be the bulk of your training (if your goal is just to have fun, then, by all means, have a blast! Note: Training can be fun too, and even doing the same style activities, the mindset just adds a layer of thinking through how what I do today fits into a larger plan).
Using the surprise elements to spice up a finisher at the end of a workout is great, especially when you’re mentally and physically exhausted.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling, or especially tight on time, this can be an excellent way to get something in. Remember, if doing that means you will do it, and if not then you’ll watch Netflix on the couch, then do what you gotta do! But we’re talking about training optimally today.
Here’s an overview of three powerful ways to group exercises to optimize your training time:
These are a great way to improve training efficiency while increasing the metabolic effect, or calorie burn from your workouts! The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a paper demonstrating that using supersets compared to traditional linear training resulted in greater caloric burn and EPOC (1). EPOC is the “afterburn” measure of how much extra energy you’ll continue to burn for as much as 10-72 hours after your workout.
The term superset is often used to denote performing any two exercises back to back, resting only after completing the second exercise. The classic definition, and what we’ll focus on today, is expressly that of pairing opposing muscle groups, or an “antagonist” superset. When you perform an exercise, use a TRX Row, for example, your back muscles are what’s known as the prime mover. Working opposite to your back is your chest muscles, the antagonist as your back muscles contract and shorten, your chest muscles relax and lengthen. For example, by pairing a TRX Row in this example with a push-up variation, there is a slight performance-enhancing effect for both exercises. For this kind of superset, typically you’ll rest a minute or less between each exercise, with no lengthened rest after completing the two, continuing into the next set.
This technique essentially aims to fill the rest time with complementary and accessory exercises so you can get in more total work in over less time. Generally choose three to four exercises, beginning with large, demanding movements, and progressing to smaller movements, such that the last exercise is almost an “active rest,” to prepare yourself for the next set. For Example, you could perform Bulgarian Split Squats, followed by a Kettlebell Swings, then Single Leg Glute Bridges, and lastly Band Pull-Aparts.
Lastly, we’ll talk about timed circuits, or what most people think of when it comes to circuit training. Here are three ways to organize your training:
AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible): Choose a set of exercises, let’s say four, and you then are challenging yourself to see how many rounds you can complete as possible in a given time. This is great because if you know you only have 10 minutes to workout after your warm-up, just set a timer for 10 minutes, pick a few exercises, then challenge yourself! This is great for tracking also because you have a score you can work to beat for the next time you do it.
Rounds For Time: Essentially the opposite of the AMRAP, you’ll be setting a finite amount of sets or reps to complete, then recording how fast you finish that work.
Intervals: You’ll pre-determine your amount of work and rest (can be the subject of another article) and use a timer to tell you when to go and when to stop. This is especially good to eliminate the tendency to rest for too long and waste valuable minutes.
Don’t want to think about all this? No fear, that’s why we’re here! Let’s get moving, and we’ll schedule a complimentary workout for you with a coach to get you some momentum, just fill out the form below and we’ll reach out! If you’d like to learn more about how to train in-home, check out our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Home Workouts!