Metabolic circuits are the perfect exercise for hectic schedules and short attention spans. A metabolic circuit is a series of exercises performed quickly with high repetitions, and you can do a full sequence in under 15 minutes. They’re a quick way to get a great workout, especially if you’re trying to lose fat.
You don’t need to waste time pausing between exercises; alternate muscle groups and keep going! “Because the exerciser switches between muscle groups, no rest is needed between exercises. This gets the heart rate up, which usually doesn’t happen during resistance exercise,” says WebMD’s Carol Sorgen.
Do non-competing metabolic circuit exercises. Each week, add repetitions, increase resistance and introduce a new exercise to the lineup. If the same circuit routine is getting harder every week, go here.
Switch It Up for Doubled Calorie Burn
When you’re jogging on the treadmill, ever notice how after 20 minutes of scanning sitcom subtitles, or listening to the same iPod playlist on repeat, your pumped-up pace has dwindled to a crawl?
Steady, mid-intensity cardio rarely gives you a focused and engaged workout. Even if you manage to stay amped, your body won’t. The body adjusts to steady-paced exercise and begins to conserve energy.
Interval cardio (like metabolic circuits) keeps the body off-balance so it can’t hoard calories. The brief bursts of movement demand focus and generate momentum, giving you a much more efficient workout than stationary treading and cycling. Being able to progress and diversify your routine will help prevent plateauing.
Circuits at Home in 30 Minutes
If you don’t like the idea of performing the exercise version of musical chairs at your gym, set up a circuit at home. It’s cheap and easy. Get a pair of dumbbells for bicep curls and shoulder presses and a sturdy chair for bent-over rows. You don’t need any equipment to do squats, lunges, leg extensions, push-ups, or crunches, and you can jog in place or run circles around the living room couch. If your full circuit only takes 10 minutes, replenish your fluids and repeat at least two or three times.
Circuit training is most effective with a game plan. Make a chart that lists each exercise in the order you’ll do them. If you need inspiration, here are two basic circuit routines. Write down your goals and make a note of your weight and measurements. Decide the number of reps you want to do and how many times you’ll repeat the circuit this week. Add to it each week and update your chart to see your progress!
The Workout That Keeps on Giving
Another reason metabolic circuits are more effective than steady cardio is that they cause you to burn additional calories post-workout. Many call this the “afterburn” effect. Varied, high-intensity exercise boosts EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). EPOC is your body’s way of recovering after exercise, and it uses calories to do so – much of which comes from body fat.
Keep in mind we aren’t cardio-bashing. It’s good to let your body recoup with some moderate-intensity exercise between rigorous interval training workouts. The combination of interval and aerobic training can be especially powerful for those trying to lose 20 pounds or more. Just don’t bank on stationary treading and cycling alone for major calorie burn.
If you’re short on time, metabolic circuits are one of the best ways to get your heart rate up, work multiple muscle groups, and burn extra calories for up to 48 hours after the workout.
Don’t forget to maximize your warm-up, too! Watch this complete active stretching routine for ways to increase your range of motion and prepare your muscles for a great interval training workout.