How To Build The Ultimate Circuit Training Workout For Rapid Fat Loss

In the past, the cornerstone of most resistance training workouts has been performing exercises in a straight set format. Essentially, this means you perform a certain number of reps for a certain number of sets of  a given exercise, and then you rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes based on your training goals before repeating this set/rep combo again. This is actually a traditional body builder program.  There’s nothing really wrong with it, and most “regular” folks you see at the gym are doing just this type of a program.  If they’ve got 60-90 minutes to get their strength workout and their cardiovascular training in,  and they’re getting the results they want, well then, they should probably keep doing what they’re doing!  However, there is a quicker way to get a great workout in.

A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is utilizing the alternating set format. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a very short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. Plus, by working another area of your body with a non-competing exercise you allow your body to recover from the previous exercise(s). The result is improved training economy and density: more work accomplished in less time, the cornerstone of any sound fat loss program.

There are several ways to perform alternating sets outlined below:

1.)   Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges). I really like this format and use it for my personal training customers in San Jose, as well as for many of my own workouts.

2.)   Trisets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges).

3.)   Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises

Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, I believe circuit training is by the far the best option for time-crunched recreational exercisers who want to boost their metabolism and decrease body fat . That’s one reason why we  incorporate a strength/cardio circuit into about 90% of our monthly bootcamp workouts in San Jose and Los Gatos.  They incinerate calories, as well as develop lean muscle and cardiovascular endurance.

Here’s an example of a 6 station cardio/strength circuit:

Exercise#1- Jump rope

Exercise#2- Dips

Exercise#3- High knee jog in place

Exercise#4- Pull-ups  (if you don’t have a pull up bar, you can do an inverted row at home by putting a broomstick across two chairs)

Exercise#5- Fast lateral shuffle

Exercise#6:  Push ups

Exercise at each station for 1 minute, and take a 10-15 second recovery break between each station.  At the cardio stations (1, 3, and 5) you’ll go “all out” for one minute.  At the strength stations (2,4, and 6), perform sets of 8-12 repetitions of the exercise, and then take a brief rest.  Beginners might get in 2 sets, advanced folks might get in 4 sets during the 60 second time frame (due to less rest time).

Perform this circuit up to four times for an excellent fat burning workout.

The key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training provides for the best of both worlds and is thus simply unmatched for simultaneously maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain.

When you’re short on time (and who isn’t these days!), nothing beats a high intensity circuit training workout.

Committed to your success,


A Workout to Blast Your Belly Fat

Of course, there is no way to spot reduce our body fat, but as I mentioned in a post a few days ago, high intensity exercise does seem to favor fat mobilization from the abdominal area.

So, just in case you all in my San Jose Boot Camp (Almaden/Cambrian) or Jackie’s Los Gatos Boot Camp didn’t make it to class this week (yeah, you know who you are!!!), I’ve written up a “no equipment needed” workout for you.  Bonus points to the folks who attended all their classes this week and STILL do the workout.  Chime in here by leaving a comment if you complete your workout this weekend.

“Fit and Fabulous” ladies from my Willow Glen boot camp for Baby Boomers: You’ve got some homework in the form of your take-home lesson from Thursdays class, “Home Circuit #4”, but you can add the workout below into your weekend plan if you’d like.  Modify some of the movements if you need to.

Please remember to have a good, full body warm up before you start, and allow time to cool down, drink water and stretch after working out.

On your 1 minute cardio segments, attempt to exercise at an intensity of  “8” or “9” on our scale of 1-10.

Here is your workout:

Step ups on a bench or porch step- 1 minute

Push ups- 15 repetitions

Jumping Jacks- 1 minute

Dips- 15 repetitions

High knees (or jog) in place- 1 min

Walking lunges- 15 out, 15 back

Rest 1 minute

Repeat  circuit 1-2 more times for a quick but effective high intensity workout!

Current campers, don’t forget that you can grab your early bird discount up until Monday, April 27th for the Almaden camp, and Tuesday, April 28th for the Los Gatos and Willow Glen camps.   

Registration remains open at the regular price for new and returning boot campers through Thursday, April 30th.

Log on now to secure your spot!

BTW:   Jackie is out of town next week, so “yours truly” will be your instructor at our Los Gatos location next week :-).  Be there!

Have a great weekend!