All too frequently as a trainer and coach I am told by clients that they do not have enough timeto work out on a regular basis, which is why they cannot lose weight or re-shape their physique.
This is the result of believing one needs to spend hours lifting weights to build muscle and even more hours doing cardio to burn the fat away.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: One of the best, most effective, and research-proven exercise strategies to use for fat loss is high-intensity circuit training (HICT) using your own body weight as resistance.
High-intensity circuit training (HICT) combines aerobic and resistance training into a single exercise bout that lasts approximately 7 minutes. Each circuit is repeated 2-3 times, depending on the amount of time that you have. And as body weight provides the only form of resistance, this type of program can be done anywhere!
HICT is NOT a new concept, but it is growing in popularity because of its efficiency and practicality for time-constrained adults who want to get fit. The key to this type of program’s effectiveness lies in the high-intensity focus with limited periods of rest. That means you really have to PUSH yourself in this type of training, or you will NOT see the results you desire.
When resistance training exercises use large muscle groups with very little rest between sets, research shows that the aerobic and metabolic benefits (i.e. fat-burning) are present for UP TO 72 hours after a high-intensity exercise bout has been completed!
There is also greater impact on fat loss with HICT, compared to that with traditional steady-state aerobic work or traditional weight training! Did you read that correctly?? Yes! HICT is MORE effective at fat-burning than traditional cardio and weight training programs!
If you are new to exercise, the HICT workout is great for you, too! By using bodyweight, you will start off with movement that is appropriate for your fitness level, and as you get stronger, you will notice huge improvements in your pace, your intensity, and your stamina.
And for those of you who are interested in staying fit for health reasons: HICT is also an extremely effective and efficient means to increasing your VO2max, which is a marker for improved cardiopulmonary health, as well as decrease insulin resistance (a major indicator for type 2 diabetes).
Throw away those over-hyped, so-called fitness magazine programs. Say goodbye to long hours on the elliptical machine. If you are looking to improve your overall health and decrease body fat, HICT is the strategy to employ.
What does a HICT look like? So glad you asked!
Exercises in a HICT circuit should be placed in an order that allows for opposing muscle groups to alternate between resting and working. An example of this would be a push-up (upper body) that is followed by a squat (lower body).
In addition, if a particular exercise creates a significant increase in heart rate or intensity (like jump squats), then the exercise that follows should be one that lowers the heart rate or intensity slightly (such as abdominal crunches).
Each HICT training circuit should consist of 9-12 exercises. Again, it is important to note that all muscles are used, and are used at an appropriate intensity during your training session. The key is your INTENSITY! I didn’t say it was going to be easy….but it WILL be effective when you do it RIGHT!
In-between exercises, the rest period is VERY short – like, 10 seconds! Just enough time to transition to the next exercise, but keeping the intensity high throughout the entire circuit.
Below I have included a HICT workout for you to follow. Because the focus is on bodyweight training only, you don’t even need to “find the time” to drive to the gym! You can do this workout in the living room, in the backyard, or out in the park! You will need a timer (try a free apps download to your phone) and a towel (‘cause you’re going to get sweaty)…that’s it!
This is a 12-station HICT program. The exercise order provides total body exercises to significantly increase the heart rate while the lower, upper, and core exercises function to maintain the increased heart rate, while developing strength!
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Rest/transition only 10 seconds between exercises.
Total time for the entire circuit is approximately 7 minutes. REPEAT the circuit for a total of 2-3 times through. And PUSH YOURSELF!
If you are not familiar with some of the exercises I have listed below, feel free to check out my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/c/MelanieDaly), where you can see each exercise modeled.
The hardest part of high intensity training is really maintaining the intensity. Remember: you will only get out of this what you put in! If you move slowly through your 30-second time slots, you will NOT have the necessary intensity to see the results you desire! Grab a competitive friend if you need someone to PUSH YOU to the right level of intensity!
And when you are ready to move on to the next step in your training, give me a shout. I can help you move on to the next level, so you continue seeing the progress you want to see!
Here’s your HICT workout – Get started today!
30 seconds work/10 seconds to rest & transition:
1. Jumping Jacks total body
2. Wall sit lower body
3. Push-up upper body
4. Abdominal crunch core
5. Step-ups onto chair/bench total body
6. Squat lower body
7. Triceps dip on chair/bench upper body
8. Plank core
9. High knees running in place total body
10. Lunges lower body
11. Push-up & T-rotation upper body
12. Side plank core
Rest 30 seconds between circuits. Repeat for a total of 2-3 times through.