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CrossFit Circuit | Unleash The Athlete Within

A man completing a CrossFit circuit.

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This CrossFit circuit delivers an epic exercise experience. Comprised of big compound movements and multiple training methods, every muscle group will be activated along with all the major body systems. But you’ll get more out of this circuit than just a whole-body workout.


In addition to promoting strength, and muscle endurance, and stimulating your cardio capacity, this circuit can also enhance your general physical ability. How? Exercises such as sumo deadlifts to high pulls, American kettlebell swings, and double-unders, have been shown to improve fitness performance in unrelated areas.


To qualify that claim quickly. Russian strength and conditioning coaches reported a similar outcome after integrating kettlebell exercises into the training regimes of elite-level athletes. According to John Shepheard, the author of The Complete Guide to Sports Training, the coaches recorded improvements in a varied range of 'unrelated disciplines' from powerlifting to plyometric jumps, running and grip strength.


These are just a handful of the fitness benefits up for grabs if you can accommodate this CrossFit circuit in your training routine. Below, I’ve discussed these benefits in a bit more detail. But if you’re eager to get cracking, follow the link and start the CrossFit Circuit now!


CrossFit circuit benefits

What follows is a brief overview of the key benefits that are associated with the exercises and primary training methodology selected for this workout.


Exercise physiologists in the early 1950s formalised circuits as a ‘system which would train several of the components of fitness simultaneously, rather than strength or cardiovascular endurance separately,’ (Supertraining). This makes it possible to ‘construct circuits which emphasise different aspects of fitness’ while also ‘developing all-round fitness,’ (Physical Fitness & Athletic Performance).


As well as being an efficient form of exercise, circuits have also been shown to be one of the best at burning fat. Watson brings our attention to this attribute when he notes that ‘decreases in body fat’ is one of the primary reported outcomes ‘as a result of circuit training.’


It’s for these reasons that legendary martial arts master and fitness fanatic Bruce Lee embraced circuits. According to his official biographer, John Little, ‘Lee saw much merit in the concept of circuit training’ both as a method of enhancing his fitness and ‘as a very effective means of consolidating his cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength-training workouts into one routine,’ (The Art of Expressing the Human Body).


Related: If you take on this Bruce Lee Workout, be prepared for the fight of your life!

Complex training

Turning our attention from the method to the means, the exercises selected for the circuit pack a powerful fitness-promoting punch. I mentioned in passing above that maximal stimulation movements like sumo deadlifts to high pulls can improve athletic performance.


Mel Siff, an important early strength and conditioning pioneer, tells us that ‘complex training’ – characterised as workouts and programs that involve ‘several training tasks and loads of different primary emphasis’ – helped athletes achieve a balanced and ‘multi-faceted physical fitness,’ (Supertraining).


Moreover, people who regularly participate in forms of complex training typically experience the ‘development of one or more motor ability’ which contribute to the development of others such as ‘strength, speed of movement and endurance,’ (Supertraining).


But then this panoply of benefits is something we’ve come to expect from a CrossFit circuit.


How to do this CrossFit circuit

To diversify the training outcomes and appeal to a wider audience, I have created two workouts. The first involves a series of short AMRAPs (as many reps as possible). After a bout of rowing (or running for those who don’t have access to an ergo machine), you’ll progress through the list of exercises. Spending just one minute on each exercise, the objective is to amass as many total reps as possible.


Once you’ve made your way through the list, make a note of your overall score before taking a rest. Repeat three times through. Finish back on the rower.


Related: With over 10,000 five-star reviews, the Concept 2 Rower remains a fan favourite

The second circuit has been crafted around the classic CrossFit ‘reps for time’ (RTF) method. Typically, RTF is applied to an exercise pairing: oscillating between the two exercises, your goal would be to descend the rep sequence in the shortest time.


To circuitify RTF, I have extended the list of exercises and rep sequence. Also, there are three levels to choose from – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The aim of the circuit remains the same as any reps for time workout. That is, to polish off all the reps as quickly as possible.


Circuit key points

  • Warm up well before starting a circuit. A general-purpose warm-up has been included below.

  • Select the circuit that best aligns with your fitness objectives.

  • To improve training efficiency, organise the exercise equipment prior to starting the circuit.

  • Use the session plans provided to keep track of your progress and document your scores.


Warm up exercises

  • 1 min mobility exercises (walking or marching on the spot will suffice) → 5 min low-intensity cardio (your choice – but rowing or airdyne cycling are best) → 10 reps air squats, press-ups, and kettlebell swings → 3 min moderate to high-intensity cardio → 10 reps jump squats, press-ups, and hang cleans (use an unloaded Olympic barbell) Start the CrossFit circuit.


CrossFit circuit session plan.

CrossFit circuit session plan.

CrossFit circuit hints and tips

Returning to the point above concerning training efficiency, spending a couple of minutes scratting around for kit will pay dividends once you start the circuit. There are few things quite so frustrating as having to break training momentum to find a piece of kit. Sod’s law it’s on the other side of the gym and someone is using it. Avoid this problem by constructing your circuit. This way, you’ll be able to progress through the exercises unimpeded. Also, if there’s a piece of kit that you can’t find, you can replace the exercise with an alternative.

Related: Ever wondered Who is circuit training good for?

To add to that last sentence, any exercise in either circuit can be modified, adapted, or replaced. For example, if you are unable to do double-unders, you could instead convert them to skipping. And if you can’t skip, there’s always the option of doing tuck jumps or jogging on the spot (which kind of simulates skipping). You get the gist.

Related: Need CrossFit Exercise ideas?

It’s common practice in CrossFit workouts for weight ranges to be stipulated. I haven’t followed suit for the simple reason that some members of the audience may feel pressured to attempt a resistance that exceeds their current level of ability. In addition, it can be demoralising to face a workout that you can’t complete in full. I recommend selecting weights that provide a challenge but do not compromise your form. Bruce Lee put it best when he said, ‘Above all else, never cheat on an exercise; use the amount of weight that you can handle without undue strain,' (The Art of Expressing the Human Body).


 

Enjoyed these workouts?

Get your hands on 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 3.

CrossFit circuit concludes with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Workouts.

 

About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or info@hungry4fitness.co.uk.

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