Are Circuit Training Workouts Better Than Cardio For Fat Loss?

Fit Woman Doing Pushups

Circuit training workouts can be a great way to accelerate the results you get from your training.

However, I’m not talking about circuit training from the past.

We aren’t doing a bunch of easy circuits on a variety of machines (or one of those multi-exercise stations) to “isolate” different muscles.

Nope, today’s circuit training workouts are much more effective than the routines of the past. You’ll see circuits used a lot in metabolic resistance training workouts, which can also be described as another form of intense interval training.

But we’re using traditional free weight training exercises as well as bodyweight exercises, not to mention training tools like ropes, chains, resistance bands, etc. as opposed to riding a stationary bike or using traditional circuit training exercises (like the old time all in one machines mentioned above).

The typical circuits most of us remember involve the old time all in one multi-exercise machines like the Nautilus workout stations.

Body Solid Home Gym

FREE Report: Discover How To Boost Your Metabolism,
Burn More Fat with Less Effort, And Get
Lean, Sexy, Six Pack Abs… Fast!

Click Here to Get 9 FREE Metabolic Circuit Training
Workouts for Accelerated Fat Loss!

These workouts usually involved doing one set per exercise for each individual body part. With the Nautilus machine, it also usually meant doing an isolation exercise and a compound exercise for each body part.

For the chest this would involve a flye movement as well as the machine bench press. The shoulders would be a lateral raise (the isolation exercise) and a seated machine shoulder press.

A typical Nautilus training circuit will utilize anywhere from four to twelve exercises, each done for 10 to 20 repetitions. You’ll rest after each circuit and repeat the circuit 2 to 4 times.

If you’re new to training, or even new to this type of training, a typical Nautilus style workout may be the way to go for you.

An old time circuit might look like this:

  • 15 Reps x Leg Curl
  • 12 Reps x Bench Press
  • 15 Reps x Leg Extension
  • 12 Reps x Lat Pulldown
  • 15 Reps x Leg Press
  • 12 Reps x Seated Row
  • 15 Reps x Calf Raise
  • 10 Reps x Seated Press
  • 10 Reps x Biceps Curl
  • 10 Reps x Tricep Pushdown

Rest 2 minutes and Repeat 2 – 4 more times

These are all isolation exercises on machines.

You can get better results in less time by utilizing more full body and compound exercises that utilize more muscle mass, core strength, balance and agility.

This will allow you to work more muscle, burn more calories during the workout and accelerate your metabolism to burn even more calories AFTER your workout is completed.

There are many, many ways to put together effective circuit training workouts that utilize not only different weights for various exercises but different pieces of equipment as well, from barbells to dumbbells to kettlebells to bodyweight exercises and more.

For example, here’s a bodyweight workout, focusing more on getting your heat rate up, burning calories and boosting your metabolism, as opposed to a strength training circuit.

Perform each exercise using a 40/20 protocol, meaning do each exercise for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds then hit the next exercise for 40 seconds and so on until the circuit is complete.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Plank
  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Skater Hops
  • Push ups (on knees if necessary)
  • Run In Place
  • Reverse Lunges (Jump Lunges if you’re advanced)
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Side to Side Hops
  • Jump Rope

Rest one to two minutes

Repeat entire circuit 2 to 3 times

You can do timed circuits like the bodyweight example above (you can do them with equipment, by the way). You can vary the time as well.

You can do:

  • Strength training circuits
  • Bodyweight
  • Kettlebell circuits
  • Complexes (a form of circuit where you use one piece of equipment like a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell and never put it down during the entire circuit, while performing your excercises)
  • Dumbbell
  • Dumbbell / Barbell
  • Kettlebell / Bodyweight
  • Resistance Bands
  • Battle Ropes
  • Combos of any of the above

You get the idea.

Another great option is every minute on the minute circuit training.

With this you have one minute (or two, depending on the circuit) to complete your circuit. Whatever time is leftover, that’s your rest time until the top of the next minute.

If you finish the circuit in 43 seconds, you get 17 seconds of rest. If you finish it in 57 seconds, you only get 3 seconds of rest. And you’ll have X number of rounds you need to complete for the workout.

I’ll put an article together specifically on this method and when it’s up, I’ll link to it right here in this article.

But I’ll leave you with a quick example. You could do the following three exercise circuit in MOTM style.

  • 8 reps x Bodyweight Squats
  • 8 reps x Push Ups
  • 8 reps x Kettlebell Swing

And you can obviously make adjustments based on your current level of conditioning. You could perform 6 reps each. Or perform 10 or more. And / or adjust the number of rounds you perform in a workout.

Any type or total reps workout, like the 300 workout, is a form of a circuit as well, such as the Kettlebell 300 Workout.

There are a LOT of ways to put together circuit training workouts (lots of right ways and lots of wrong ways!) and I’ll be adding plenty more variations and exercises in upcoming articles. Stay tuned!

Recommended: Discover how you can lose body fat, build muscle, and increase your strength and cardio capacity quickly, by doing something that breaks all the rules about how to get leaner.

Gregg Gillies is a Certified Metabolic Trainer and author of the 5 star rated book, Flat Belly Blueprint, available for $2.99 (and instant download) on Amazon. He’s written hundreds of health and fitness related articles that have appeared on sites like Bodybuilding.com while also being published in the print edition of Ironman Magazine, and contributing to programs like Underground Chest Training Connect with Gregg on Google Plus and Facebook

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment