Circuit training is one of the most time-effective ways to burn calories. When circuit training, you work multiple muscle groups with light/moderate weight. Switching frequently between muscle groups quickly while using a moderate weight allows you to exercise for extended periods of time before reaching failure. You activate motor nerves in multiple muscle groups and excite those muscle fibers. The more muscle fibers used, the higher the calorie expenditure. The higher your calorie expenditure, the greater your calorie deficit and ultimately the more fat you burn.
As you break down the structure of the circuit training classes created by our weight loss experts, you will soon realize why this blog applies to not only AFS clients but to all trainers and trainees aspiring to lose weight and burn fat for good. Each workout involves three main components.
- Quick warm up to prepare your body for the intense workout – 2 minutes
- Five exercise stations for five minutes each – 25 minutes
- Three core exercises performed three times for 30 seconds each – 4 minutes 30 seconds
This is a total “exercise” time of 31 minutes and 30 seconds. Is that even enough time to get an adequate workout? ABSOLUTELY! 31 minutes is plenty of time to burn 300-600 calories if you are exercising for the full 31 minutes. Transition time between exercises, however, is the biggest culprit of minimizing your calorie output during circuit training.
Transitioning between exercises and its effect on weight loss
Many people take 8-10 seconds to transition from one exercise to another. Ten seconds of transition time for 8 total switches equals 80 seconds. That means that 80 of your 300 working seconds at each station are devoted purely to transition time. That’s nearly 26.7% of your total station exercise time!
Am I saying there should be no transition time at all? Far from it. I am saying that making a conscious effort to minimize transition times during each station will maximize the calorie output in your workouts. Ideally, transitions should take no longer than 3 seconds, bringing that 26.7% transition time down to 10%. Just think of all the calories you could be burning!
3 tips to increase transition times and maximize calorie burning
Sometimes equipment needs to be shared, space is limited, and guidance is needed. But this doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead to keep your workouts both fun and productive. Here are three things you should keep in mind to improve your transition times:
- Understand your surroundings. Take the two-minute break between stations to see who is using what equipment and where each person will be for each exercise. For example, if you’re doing a wall sit, don’t walk 15 feet to find your “normal” wall sit area, just take the closest spot to you on the wall. We are creatures of habit and tend to migrate to the same area for specific exercises. Trust me, one spot on the wall isn’t any different than another.
- Make sure you ask your instructor questions during the rest intervals. That’s what we’re here for! I would much rather answer a question during a 2-minute break than wait for the station to start and interrupt your workout.
- Practice standing up. Yeah it’s a pain in the butt, but it is functional and is actually part of the exercise. There should be no “transition” time between lying down and standing up, because just getting off the floor is a different exercise in itself. Healthy adults should aspire to stand up quickly and without difficulty. If it takes you a while to get up, keep doing it! Practice makes perfect, and as you lose the weight and increase your strength it will get easier. Challenge yourself to make those transitions no longer than 3 seconds and I guarantee it will feel like a whole new workout.
Anyone reading this blog can think back on their last class and find at least five instances where they could improve their transition time. My last blog encouraged everyone to focus on every repetition and to try to make them perfect. Now, I am challenging you to focus on transition time. Inspect the training landscape. Visualize your workout transitions in your mind. Work with your instructor during rest times, not during sets. And do your best to get up and move quickly between stations.
Like I’ve said before, if you’re going to take 32 minutes out of your busy schedule to exercise, don’t waste it. Make sure you’re doing things right and always try to improve.
Blogger’s note: We realize that this blog may not hold true to 100% of people. For example, clients dealing with orthopedic limitations or low blood pressure may have difficulty transitioning from exercise to exercise. Our certified personal trainers are experts in workout and rehabilitative recovery techniques to meet those clients’ needs as well.