Circuit training is one of the most effective ways to work out. A combination of strength training and cardio, circuit training is a complete body workout rolled into a single session. By doing short bursts of cardio for several minutes, followed by several short segments of weight lifting for 20 minutes or more, you’re firing up your metabolism and burning calories much more efficiently than doing straight cardio or strength training for the same amount of time.
Consider some of the following methods if you’re looking to incorporate interval training in your next workout.
1. Try a Circuit Training Room
Many gyms have circuit training rooms set up. In a circuit training room, you’ll find stations set up in a circular model that alternate between some sort of cardio machine or prop (like a stationary bike or aerobic step) and a weight station (either free weights or a weight machine). You can move from station to station at your own pace, usually spending about 30 seconds to one minute at each one. You’ll want to spend at least 20 minutes–if not 30 minutes–doing the circuit. This will mean you’ll go around the circle and hit each station twice. If you’re new to circuit training, using the circuit training room is a good place to start.
2. Do Short Bursts in the Gym
Break up your regular 30 minute cardio routine with some strength training. If your favorite machine is the elliptical trainer, start on it for five minutes, then take a break and focus on toning your arms by lifting some weights for about five minutes. Once done with that, get back on the elliptical trainer again. When another five minutes is up, get off the machine and focus on some leg toning exercises or machines. Repeat this routine several times. You’ll get a full body workout in a manageable amount of time.
Feel like all you’re doing is watching the clock? Let music be your guide–do cardio for one song and then switch to strength training when a new song begins. Repeat for the duration of your workout.
3. Try a Circuit-Focused Aerobics Class
Many gyms offer classes that mix weight lifting and cardio. These classes are great because they’ll keep you focused and help you learn methods of interval training that you can incorporate in your next solo gym visit. Look for classes with names like body conditioning, body sculpt and even boot camp. In an hour or less, you’ll work on sculpting your entire body.
4. Try At-Home Methods
You don’t have to have access to a gym to do interval training. Combine simple bursts of cardio moves, like jumping jacks and jumping rope, with easy strength training moves like push ups, sit ups and lifting free weights. The best part is you can get a full workout with limited or no equipment!
Interval training allows you to get the most from your workout. Start by simply mixing up your current routine so that you combine cardiovascular activity with strength training.