Circuit Training for Beginners: 4 Sample Strength Routines

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biceps curls
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Tuesday December 22, 2020

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What is circuit training? This exercise style allows only minimal rest periods, which will enable you to fit in a full-body workout in a short time. 

Such routines emphasize working different muscle groups to keep you moving while providing rest for those not in use. As such, it combines an element of cardio with your weight-training routine. Here are four sample circuit training for beginners cheat sheets to use when resistance workout day rolls around. 

“I’m New to the Weight Room” Intro

If you’re a newbie to the weight-room world, you want a routine that lets you get in and hit it hard without a ton of fluff. Here are the moves to master.

  • Squats: When you first begin resistance training, try doing these with no weights until you master the form. Sit back as if you had a chair behind you. Take a glance down — you should see the tips of your sneakers beyond your knees. It’s best to bend your knees no further than 90 degrees to avoid injury. 
  • Chest press: Newbies to the gym benefit from machines that keep your body in alignment and prevent a barbell from pinning you to the bench. Find a weight setting that lets you perform 10 to 12 repetitions. You should struggle on the last few. 
  • Planks: This move blasts your entire core region. Start by getting into a push-up position, then hold as you pull in your abs. You can do variations on your elbows or rotate to either side. 

Repeat this circuit several times. Alternating between the upper and lower body helps you torch tons of calories in a short period. As you gain experience, you can add variety, such as substituting a set of push-ups for one round of chest presses. 

Arm and Upper-Body Power

Though circuit training for beginners typically entails working both the upper and lower body, you can use the principles to target-train. The critical factor involves using opposing muscle groups to let one rest while the other labors. 

You’ll perform the following four moves in this circuit.

  • Lat pulls: You can do this exercise on a pulldown machine. If you opt for free weights, support one knee and the same arm on a weight bench, which forces you to bend forward. Pull your dumbbell up behind you like you’re starting a lawnmower. 
  • Chest flys: Lay flat on a weight bench with your arms extended over the midline of your chest. Imagine you’re a bird taking wing and “fly” your arms by lowering them to perpendicular with your chest, elbows slightly bent. You can also use a machine. 
  • Biceps curls: With one dumbbell in each hand, tuck your elbows into your sides with your palms facing up at a 45-degree angle. Bend your elbows, bring your weights to your shoulders, then lower with control. If you find yourself rocking your torso to lift the weights, drop down a few pounds.
  • Triceps kickbacks: Stagger your stance and lean forward with your torso at a 45-degree angle. Bend your elbows to bring your dumbbells to your waist. Then, like a skier pushing off, straighten your arms, squeezing your triceps as you do so. 

Long, Lean Beach-Ready Legs

You can perform this workout on opposite days as your upper body. If you have more time, you can combine this workout with the arm one above. 

  • Leg extensions: Adjust your machine for 10 to 12 reps to start. When this amount becomes easy, move up by five-pound increments. 
  • Hamstring curls: You can perform these on a machine where you lay flat on your stomach or the seated version. 
  • Hip abduction: This move works your outer thighs by pressing the weight pads away from you. 
  • Hip adduction: This motion opposes the previous one and blasts your inner thighs. 

If you don’t have access to weight machines, a quality set of resistance bands can substitute. Plus, you can use them in your living room — no gym trip necessary. 

The Hardcore Total-Body Blast

You should repeat each of the above circuits four to six times per workout session for optimal results. Have you been working out for a while? Are you ready for a hardcore challenge? 

Print out this sheet and take it with you to the gym. Complete each exercise in the above three groups two to three times. If blast every muscle in your body, you’ll only need to hit the weight room three times a week. Use the other days for rest, yoga or cardiovascular training. 

Get in the Best Shape of Your Life With Circuit Training for Beginners

The above exercise style helps you save time in the gym by working your lower and upper body or opposing muscle groups and minimizing rest. Try these circuit training for beginner routines and get the sleek, toned physique you desire. 

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