Circuit Exercise Selection and Commercial Gym Creativity Part I

10 Jun

Anaerobic, Metablolic, Fat Loss, Super Frickn’ Awesome and whatever else you want to call them circuits are a versatile weapon in your workout arsenal. They’re a must for trainees in pursuit of fat loss, a nice (maybe not the best choice of words, if you’re doing them right) finisher to a strength training workout, and a neat, yes, neat, way of working on weaknesses without making them the focus of your training program. I read through a lot of material offering up different circuit ideas. I have found a lot of great ideas, but I also find a lot of circuits that fail to choose appropriate exercises, in that they leave too much room for just going through the motions or don’t provide any added benefit to the trainee, aside from a boost in heart rate. Exercise selection is an often overlooked component to an effective circuit. In these posts we will look at choosing appropriate exercises for a weakness circuit and choosing exercises for a conditioning circuit that don’t allow any room for “slacking.”

Let’s entertain the idea of a “Weakness Circuit” first. A weakness circuit can be done on days in between your prescribed workouts, or I often tag them onto the end of a workout. In this case exercise selection is paramount to accomplishing the task.  A weakness circuit helps a trainee to work on different areas of their body that are lagging behind and therefore hindering their overall performance in the gym. Additionally, they’re also getting the the lasting effects of everything metabolic circuits offer from a metabolism boost benefit. Weaknesses may range from strength (i.e. weak upper back and grip strength), mobility (i.e. tight hips) to aesthetics (i.e. little teeny tiny arms on an impressive trunk). You’re circuit doesn’t need to be limited to just one weakness either, in fact a person could have all four of the aforementioned weaknesses and attack them all in the same circuit.

Here are some of the keys to setting up your weakness circuit:

  1. Identify your weaknesses ( choose from these three areas: 1. Strength 2. Mobility / Activation 3. Aesthetics)
  2. Choose exercises that will focus on correcting said weaknesses
  3. Organize them into a logical and challenging sequence
  4. Choose times or prescribed reps for the exercises that make them effective and challenging

By taking this approach to your circuits you are truly making the most of your time in the gym, efficiency is key.

Here is an example of a circuit for Joe Shmo. Joe has identified his weaknesses as so:

  • weak grip strength (strength)
  • weak upper back strength (strength)
  • A lack of hip mobility which is causing A lack of glute activation (mobility / activation)
  • Too high Body Fat % (aesthetics)

Joe’s Exercise Selection, In accordnace with his weaknesses:

  • Farmer’s walks ( grip strength, upper back strength, Too High Body Fat)
  • Over / Unders ( Hip Mobility)
  • Burpies w/ Jump (Too High Body Fat)
  • 40 yard Sprints (Too High Body Fat, Glute Activation)
  • One Leg Alternating Glute Bridges (Gltue Activation)
  • Kroc Rows (Upperback / Grip Strength)

Now that Joe has chosen six exercises to combat his weaknesses he can organize them into a circuit:

  1. Burpies w/ Jump x 10
  2. Over / Unders x 10 (each way)
  3. One Leg Alternating Glute Bridges x 10 (each leg)
  4. 40 Yard Sprints x 5 ( 10 sec. between starts)
  5. Farmer’s Walk ( 40 Yards – There and Back )
  6. *Kroc Rows – Heavy Dumbell x 1 set on each arm 20+ Reps

Rest: 3 Min After Completion of Sequence perform for 2 sets, add one set every week until you reach 5 sets. Complete circuit twice a week.

* Kroc Row Performed Only On last set of circuit

Now that Joe has a plan he can insert this circuit into his workout program and effectively correct his weaknesses without losing a training effect or taking away from his regularly scheduled workouts for the week.

Give it a try and let me know what you think! Correcting your weaknesses will lead to huge gains in the gym. Making the most of your circuit training will boost your efficiency. If you’re not already doing them, adding circuits to your programming will aid you in lowering your body fat and staying lean.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow we will add some videos / pictures, talk about choosing exercises in a conditioning circuit that suck, no matter how hard you try to tip toe around them and how you can get creative in a commercial gym to make circuits like these a reality.


2 Responses to “Circuit Exercise Selection and Commercial Gym Creativity Part I”

  1. gregtrainer June 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

  2. lizagna June 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    Two things:
    1) I feel like I’m walking through quicksand after this morning’s workout. Owie.
    2) I think those stupid rope wiggles can improve grip strength in addition to whatever the hell they’re supposed to do primarily!

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