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Why Circuit Training Offers the Best Boost to Overall Fitness

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Circuit training combines cardiovascular exercise and strength training into one workout and offers the best improvements for your overall fitness.

Aerobic Activity
The scientific definition of aerobic work means in the presence of oxygen. In reference to exercise, it refers to those exercises which demand, as determined by Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics, “large quantities of oxygen for prolonged periods and ultimately force the body to improve those responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the muscles.”

There are many benefits in training the body aerobically, or cardiovascularly. One of the main advantages is the ability of the body to improve its heart endurance. As time progresses with training, the heart muscle becomes more fit and more efficient in pumping blood to the working muscles. Notice, that one of the first signs that you may be enhancing your heart endurance, is the decrease in your resting heart rate. For instance, it is not atypical for someone trained to have a resting heart rate of 55 beats per minute or lower (for those who are cardiovascular trained on a consistent basis).

Another great benefit is the ability of the body to burn more calories especially from fats. As duration of exercise progresses (i.e., more than 20 -30 minutes or longer) there is a shift on fuel source utilization rate (fats > carbohydrates use). However, keep in mind that there is no magical number to where that shift of fuel sources occurs. It will depend on several factors including but not limited to one’s initial fitness level, duration, and/or intensity of the exercise. Nonetheless, as your heart endurance increases, the more efficient you will be in burning fats during aerobic exercise. Be aware that your body can only burn fats in the presence of sugar or carbohydrates. 

Any activity that involves large muscle groups is an aerobic activity. This means longer duration at a moderate intensity. For example, walking, jogging, running, swimming, cycling, elliptical machines, among many others.

What is the ideal exercise prescription to maximize aerobic training? According to the American College of Sports Medicine:

  • Frequency: 3 to 5 times per week.

  • Duration: 20 to 60 minutes.

  • Intensity: Moderate.

Finally, aerobic exercise will also help you reduce stress, improve your blood lipids (such as cholesterol and triglycerides) and bone density, among other things. Above all, it will enhance your total body wellness.

Anaerobic Activity
The scientific definition of anaerobic means without oxygen. That is, the ability of the working muscles to contract without oxygen. In reference to exercises, it refers to activities that are performed approximately between 10 to 90 seconds, or slightly longer. Thus, those are activities that are high intensity in nature, like sprinting, jumping, and/or resistance training.

One of the main benefits is the ability of the body to work at a higher intensity level, which in the long run will enhance ones total fitness. In addition, caloric expenditure is greatly improved.

It is recommended to alternate moderate and hard intensity training sessions throughout the week. It is also important to establish a good training base line (i.e., moderate intensity/steady pace for at least three to six months) before resuming activities that are high intensity. One is at a greater risk for injury (i.e., musculoskeletal – strained muscle or tendon) when engaging in high intensity training without a proper baseline.

Circuit Training
The combination of aerobic and anaerobic training will offer you the best improvements for your overall fitness. One way to achieve this is through circuit training.

Circuit training is an organized setting of several exercise stations that are performed in a sequence with minimal or no rest. Circuit training can be performed during your resistance training session: Eight to 10 machine exercises alternating upper and lower body performed at a moderate to high intensity (one set of 15 to 20 repetitions) with no rest. Another option, is to alternate an aerobic and a non aerobic station throughout the circuit: leg exercise (60 seconds) followed by  jogging in place for two minutes followed by upper body exercise (60 seconds) to jump rope for two minutes and so on. The intent is to keep the body moving with no rest. Research has shown positive improvements in cardiovascular fitness and muscle mass with circuit training.

Circuit training can be easily integrated within your cardiovascular and resistance training routine. Either as an alternate for one of the sessions or as a extra alternative to spice up your exercise program. The benefits for improving your overall fitness will be positive.

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center, click here or call 972.233.4832.