Updated: Jun 22
This gym circuit has been designed to develop awesome muscle endurance and super-sharp muscular definition. It’s comprised of a series of resistance exercises that have been organised into a repetition ladder.
But it’s not all about pumping iron. After completing the resistance exercises, you are invited to progress through a series of aerobic and bodyweight stations. In addition to providing you with a complete workout, one that trains your entire body, the cardio and callisthenics finisher broadens the benefits on offer.
For example, if you call it quits after the repetition ladder, you’ll still certainly get a good workout. And you’ll walk away feeling like every sinew has been engaged.
But if you push on through and complete all the exercises in the plan, you’ll also stimulate your cardio-respiratory system. As well as improving heart health, this final piece of the fitness puzzle helps to burn fat and improve body composition.
Related: Discover the many Benefits of Cardio Training
Gym circuit benefits
In the introduction, we considered some of the main benefits of this gym circuit. The combination of resistance, bodyweight and cardio exercises will ensure that your whole body is engaged. That is, all the large muscle groups and major body systems.
Coupled with the high-volume training method, this workout can do more than build muscle endurance and improve tonality. If you can find a place in your routine for this gym circuit, and complete it once a week, here is a selection of the health and fitness benefits you could bag:
Improved body composition (decreased fat mass and increased fat-free mass)
Reduction in total body fat
Improved heart, lung and vascular health
Reduced resting heart rate
Increased muscular endurance and strength
Increased bone density
Increased durability of connective tissues
How to do this gym circuit
First, complete a 10-minute warm-up that involves a mix of cardio and light resistance exercises. Throughout the duration, progressively pick up the intensity. You should finish your warm-up with a good lick of sweat on your brow. (Need some warm-up exercise ideas?)
The circuit sounds a bit messy in the first explanation. However, once you get your head around the mechanics of the circuit, it’s surprisingly simple. And though simple, it is extremely effective. Here’s how it works.
Start from exercise one in the plan, barbell squat, and perform 10 reps. Pop the bar down and take brief rest. Pick it back up and perform another 10 squats. But this time, instead of resting, you will immediately transition to the next exercise, bent over rows. Again, perform 10 reps.
Follow this formula as you ascend the repetition ladder. In numerical form, this is how it looks:1, then 1,2, – 1,2,3 – 1,2,3,4 – 1,2,3,4,5 – 1,2,3,4,5,6 – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 – halfway point!
When you reach halfway, it’s time to go down the ladder. To do so simply retrace your steps but in reverse. In numerical form, this is how it looks: 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – 7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – 6,5,4,3,2,1 – etc. The last rung of the ladder is 10 barbell squats. If you get all the way up and down the ladder, you will have performed 770 reps in total.
You’ve got two options at this point. First, call it a day and hit the showers. Second, start working through the cardio and callisthenic exercises.
Gym circuit key points
Warm-up: 1000m rowing → 5 reps air squats and press-ups → 250m rowing → 10 reps air squats and press-ups → 250m rowing → 5 reps barbell squats and bent over rows (use an unloaded barbell) → 250m rowing → 5 reps barbell squats and bent over rows (use an unloaded barbell). (Try this gym warm-up.)
Ascend then descend the eight-exercise repetition ladder.
You are completing 10 repetitions on every exercise.
Once you’ve polished off those resistance exercises, either grab a shower or stick around for the cardio and callisthenics finisher.
Consider timing your performance. Though this is not a race, a time will provide you with a benchmark to compete against if you do the circuit again. (Need a reliable training watch?)
Total reps = 770
Total distance covered = 6000 metres
Gym workout hints and tips
If you’re unfamiliar with the exercise bastods, they are quite similar to burpees. The slight difference is that when you reach the halfway position – which resembles the start of the press-up – you perform exactly that, a press-up. The bastod is essentially two exercises merged into one which means you get more bang for your buck.
The resistance on the stationary bike and incline on the running machine should be set before the speed. However, depending on your current level of fitness, you may want to set your own speeds and resistances.
When I completed this workout, I used a relatively light resistance for the barbell exercises – just 40kg. But then the objective of the circuit is not to build strength, it’s to boost muscular endurance. Also, it can be dangerous to use heavy loads when the training volume is high. With that said, I advise that you keep the resistance low and aim to maintain a methodical work rate.
You can, of course, change any of the exercises that feature in the plan. Also, new exercisers yet to develop their confidence on free weight movements, should use exercise machines instead.
Enjoyed this gym workout?
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