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Conditioning Made Easy part 2 – Circuits

Welcome to the second part of the “Conditioning Made Easy” series.

This week, as promised, I’m talking about circuit training. I’ve been a huge fan of circuit training since I began training.

My early years of weight room training started back when I was a 16yr old spotty little shit. I hung around at school with the lads on the rowing team, they were ranked around number 12 in the UK at the time. My Karate instructor, the late Jack Parker had told me I needed to be stronger, so I asked the Rowers if I could join their weight sessions They asked the Coach, he said yes, and the rest is history.

But Coach had a wicked training style.

He gave us a few minutes to warm ourselves up while he laid out a circuit. Then he’d walk us through each station once. Then he hit the start button and for the next 20 minutes we went flat out.

After that, we set up the heavy stuff.

This influence can still be seen on the methods I employ today.

But enough of my history. Are circuits a good choice for developing high levels of conditioning?

Yes, is the short answer.

In my “WMD” eBook I have a chapter devoted to the circuit training method with a couple of dozen examples of actual circuits we’ve used in Wg-Fit as part of our Kickboxer conditioning program (article continues below the image)

They key to good circuit training it to have an plan. Decide before you lay it out what you training effect the circuit should elicit.

Are you wanting cardio? Faster recovery times? Local muscular endurance? Mental Fortitude? Are you developing the aerobic or alactic energy systems?

Knowing what aspects of fitness you want to emphasise will tell you what time, duration, work to rest, exercises and loads to use.

For a simple example, if you’re developing aerobic capacity, you keep the loads light, so single kettlebell lifts, bodyweight drills etc, but the durations long and the rest periods short. Easy.

For alactic, you increase the intensity of the exercises, so more power oriented moves and higher loads, and keep the overall duration short.

An aerobic circuit may last 20 minute to an hour, looking to keep the heart rate in and around the 130-150 BPM (it’ll vary up and down, we’re talking averages here) for the duration. Alactic, the circuit will last 2-6 minutes, but you will perform 2-4 rounds of the circuit with 3-5 minutes rest between each round, each round should be red lined.

Notice how these are two very different animals looking for two very different outcomes.

One isn’t better than the other, they’re merely different. It’s up to you (or your coach) to select which is most appropriate to your wants and needs.

After you’ve considered this, the actual exercise choices are secondary. Staples of almost any circuit will include: Upper Body Push (press/push ups…..) Upper Body Pull (pull ups/various rows…) Hinge (RDLs, Kettlebell Swings….) Knee Dominant (Variations on Squats, lunges/step ups)

Other stuff includes things like: Battle Ropes, Slam Balls, Direct core/ab work, Bag work, Skipping, Carries, Throws, Footwork Ladders etc

The actual choices are pretty much unlimited. Just so long as it all adds up to benefiting the training plan and moving you towards your chosen goals. As an exercise choice guide I’d strongly suggest you include elements you need to bring up, for most that’s glutes, hamstrings and upper back (did I mention swings and inverted rows earlier?)

Now, lay out a circuit and get to work. If you’re short of ideas, check out the WMD manual:

Regards Dave Hedges

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