Circuit Training Over 50: Building Strength, Staying Healthy and Enjoying an Active Lifestyle

Circuit Training Over 50

Many people view strength training as a mystery – especially in designing a workout. But here’s help – there is a tried and true method where moving from one muscle group to the next that has proven to be quite effective, especially for many over 50 – circuit training.

In circuit training, you cycle through each muscle group quickly, typically utilizing light weight and many reps (e.g., 20 per set). With a very brief (if any) rest between, you move onto the next muscle group/exercise.  By the way, don’t feel confused if you thought circuit training was for cardio – you’re right, and that is an added benefit versus more traditional strength training.

The first benefit of this type of workout is of course, time. Instead of sitting around recovering between sets of reps on the same muscle group, you use your “recovery time” working out the alternate body part. This way, you’re working constantly – and your workouts become extremely time-efficient.

And, of course, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the secondary benefits being that your heart rate would remain high – and maximum calorie burn, improvement in endurance and muscle mass development occurs. While working constantly, you’re really keeping the blood pumping and that’s especially good for calorie burn, making circuit training a great workout plan for losing weight. An additional benefit then would be to build endurance. By keeping your heart rate elevated and continuing to workout, you will, overtime, be able to handle more and more!

You see, when you sit and wait to “recover” between sets of repetitions in “traditional” weight training, your heart rate recovers to “normal” and any “cardio training effect” is diminished. By utilizing circuit training, you gain a higher level of endurance vs. traditional training. The first few times you utilize this method, you may feel exhausted before the workout is done. But, with repetition, you will experience an increase in endurance or the ability to workout continuously.

Most personal training clients notice a 50% gain in their endurance and feel like they have had a much more thorough workout when the trainer utilizes an circuit design. In a typical circuit routine you would work all muscle groups once,rest briefly, if at all, after 20 or so reps of a particular exercise, then go to the next muscle group exercise. Complete the full circuit and then, start again at the top of the muscle group list. If you’re paying attention and not standing around talking, you should be able to get through a typical circuit routine twice in about 40 minutes or, 3 times in 60 minutes. And, this would be a great way to start or end your day!

You’ll notice that many more traditional workout designs are more “horizontal” that is, you do all 3 sets of repetitions on one muscle group, then move to the next. Unfortunately, you have to stop the workout and wait for muscle recovery – and while that’s not bad, you may find a circuit workout to be more effective.

The benefit of “traditional training” is that you can target certain areas (big pecs for guys, nicely shaped legs for everyone, etc.) Conversely, circuit training in it’s most pure form is considered to be a full-body workout. Of course, you can always do a circuit workout and then do additional targeted exercises if you desire focus on a specific body part.

Circuit training differs from traditional resistance training in that with traditional training one would finish the workout on a muscle group before moving on to the next. The circuit concept brings you back to each muscle group repeatedly.

The downside to circuit weight training is that you have to assemble and continually change to working with lots of equipment (different size weights, benches, etc.). Additionally, you’ll be really exhausted – probably no energy for cardio or targeted exercises.

In a busy gym, traditional training is much easier and more considerate of other people working out. Especially during peak hours, getting back to the original exercises after moving on could be difficult or impossible. But, if you’re working out in your home gym, either method would work fine – logistically.

If you’re very lucky, some larger gyms may offer a separate area for circuit training which eliminates the logistical issues, making the cycle repetition much easier. Those are rare and the newer clubs tend to have designed those areas off of their workout floors.

So, try circuit strength training for a change in your routine – it might just give you a change in your physical fitness. But, no matter which design you use, keep lifting for your 50plusPlusFit lifestyle!

To learn more about lose weight over 50, click Losing Weight After 50


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