July 13, 2024

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

Misconceptions About Circuit Strength Training

3 min read

One of the biggest misconceptions about circuit strength training is that you can’t build muscle when you combine aerobic activity with strength training. This is especially the case with men. It’s no secret that men and women have different goals when they hit the gym, and while a woman may sign up for a yoga class or jump on the elliptical machine, men head straight for the weights. What most guys don’t understand is that a circuit training workout is not an easy, fluff program, and if designed and done correctly can not only beef up muscle tone, but it can lean out the fat surrounding the mid section and make those difficult-to-get abdominal muscles pop!

The next misconception is for men and women alike. When it comes to strength circuit training there is usually a line drawn in the sand, between how much weight a man should use and how much weight a woman should use. This is a cyclical argument because the true answer has nothing to do with quantity of weight, just quality of how you use it. Quality movement is marked by the amount and duration of tensions that the muscle has to work against in any given workout. If you are lifting extremely heavy weights, but are speeding through the reps in order to get them done, you will lose form, lose muscle tensions time, and lose results.

The same theory needs to be applied to women when they circuit strength train. The truth is that women always gravitate toward light weights, and sometimes they tend to life much lighter than they should for fewer reps than is necessary for muscle response. Again, the tension time is the most important factor in making a circuit beneficial for you.

Additionally, since a circuit is known for its brief periods of rest between sets, somewhere between 10-15 seconds, your heart rate is constantly challenged, so while it has “aerobic components” woven into the framework of the exercise, it is not technically considered aerobic in nature. What men and woman commonly misunderstand is that the aerobic components of a circuit workout mimic that of traditional aerobic exercise, but is designed to create a low intensity, “fat-burning” workout in-between the strength training. The aerobic spurts of energy that are used in a circuit are not similar to logging some face time with the stair stepper because of the intensity of the heart-healthy activity. So, it is a part of the circuit to increase the challenge and to utilize stored energy sources in a short period of time, in order to eat up sugar and calories within the system and to challenge overall oxygen consumption.

Women tend to like the circuits for their aerobic components because those types of exercises seem to be more popular by woman, however if a circuit is done incorrectly you won’t be in the aerobic zone long enough to produce the same effects. These effects, the negative side of aerobic training, that keep men away from the cardio room is that it has the propensity to raise cortisol levels in the body (which is when muscle tissue begins to get broken down.) Circuit strength training can benefit both men and women, and is a hybrid of some of the best training techniques that can be found in the fitness market.

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