A Circuit Training Program for Beginners

Get Fit Fast With Circuit Training

three people doing weighted dumbbell lunge exercise in gym
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Circuit training combines aerobics and resistance training in a manner that is designed to be easy to follow and provide a great workout. 

An individual exercise "circuit" is a completion of all designated exercises in a program; the concept being that when one individual circuit is completed, you start at the first exercise again for another circuit. Often, the time between exercises in circuit training is short, and rapid movements to the next exercise are often incorporated.


Circuit Training Programs

You may have used my other circuit training program. This program is a bit different, as it offers more aerobic conditioning. However, this program still provides a good combination of resistance and aerobics to keep the heart rate rolling along, if not skyrocketing, and the upper- and lower-body muscles working hard.

The circuit consists of moderate- and high-intensity aerobics combined with weights and strength stations. You will have time to recover in between the intense exercises.

Learn more about weight training terminology and exercise descriptions if you need background information before you try this circuit.

What You Need

This circuit program is designed around four pieces of exercise equipment.

  • A treadmill
  • Two dumbbells
  • A mini-trampoline or rebounder
  • An exercise mat or suitable floor space

You can substitute a stationary bike for the treadmill or the mini trampoline if they are not available or convenient in your gym or home exercise area.

If you're not familiar with rebounders or mini-trampolines, these small trampolines are an excellent way of getting higher-intensity exercise without excessive impact on the knees -- a problem for some people who are trying to lose weight. Since they are low to the ground, they are quite safe when you get used to them.

Check the load capacity and make sure it's not a children's rebounder. Most gyms will have one.

You might need to organize the equipment in two separate areas of the gym. If so, move quickly between sections.

The Circuit Program Exercises

  1. Warmup: Warmup with some gentle dynamic stretching and treadmill work for 5 to 10 minutes to get the blood flowing.
  2. Treadmill fast walkWalk on the treadmill for 5 minutes at a fast pace. This should be at a pace at which you have to stride out strongly with arms swinging for pace and balance. You should be able to talk but you may puff a little.
  3. Dumbbell Squat Press: After the treadmill, move immediately into the dumbbell squat presses. You start with a dumbbell held on each shoulder, you dip at the knees, but no more than thighs parallel to the ground, then you push the dumbbells high overhead. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions with 30 seconds of rest in between.
  4. Mini-trampoline: Next, go to the mini-trampoline. You should be familiar with this piece of equipment before starting the circuit. Start a light bounce with two feet on the trampoline for a few minutes until you have recovered from the dumbbell exercises. Now, start to jog as you would jog down the street. It takes a little more balance than the two-feet bounce but you will quickly get the idea of it. Increase your jogging pace to "fast" for 60 seconds. This means you are simulating running fast for one minute, yet only up and down on the trampoline. You need to practice this a little. Your knees will need to rise higher than when you run with forward motion. This need not be at top pace but it needs to be at a pace at which you are working quite hard for one minute -- and at a pace at which you cannot talk easily. Stop, bounce for two minutes, then repeat a second time 60 seconds at a fast pace.
  1. Dumbbell LungesMove immediately to the dumbbell station. Hold dumbbells at the side and lunge forward, one leg forward and back, then the other. Try to keep the knees from extending too far behind the point of the toes. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions (of each leg) with 30 seconds rest.
  2. CrunchesDo two sets of 12 crunches with 30 seconds rest in between.
  3. Next Circuit: Start the treadmill exercise again if you're ready for a second circuit. If you don't have access to a mini-trampoline, do your 60 seconds sprints on a stationary bike with reasonable resistance. The same application applies -- work hard for 60 seconds so that you're puffing substantially.
  4. How to Progress: Start with one circuit (of each exercise) and see how your current fitness level deals with it. The mini-tramp sprints will probably knock you around a little if you're not fit. You can rest for 3 to 5 minutes then try another circuit. Try to progress to three consecutive circuits over time, but do it gradually. One circuit should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Get a medical clearance if you're not sure of your wellness to handle this type of workout.
  5. Cool Down: When finished, cool down with some light stretches.

How to Use the Circuit Program

Keep this circuit in your arsenal of fitness workouts. Use it regularly in between weights or cardio sessions for variety and for a change of pace and intensity.

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