When I walked up into the weight room someone’s Dad was in there “working out.”
He gave me a sheepish look when I told him the upstairs of the gym is reserved for private clients. But since he’d already started I said to go ahead and finish.
After a quick warm-up I hit this circuit 6 times: Kettlebell snatch x6 each arm, ValSlide Reverse Lunge x 10 each leg, and Weighted Chin Ups x 5, repeat with no rest.
Then a quick sip of water and my second circuit was 3 rounds of: ValSlide Double Reach-Out x 10, Handstand Push Up x 3, and Bodyweight Row x 12.
It took me about 25 minutes.
In that same 25 minutes this guy did 5 sets of Dumbbell Curls. Seriously.
Unfortunately, spending more time in the gym than you need to is super-common, and I think that’s why people whine that they have no time to work out.
Now, today I’m going to drop 2 studies showing that not only will high-intensity circuits get you out of the weight room faster, they’ll also give you BETTER results.
(Of course, you could spend the same hour in the gym training with this style and get more done in those 60 minutes than the standard gym-goer does in 2 weeks of screwing around. I think that’s freaking cool!)
This is the first study:
Kelleher et al. The Metabolic Costs of Reciprocal Supersets vs. Traditional Resistance Exercise in Young Recreationally Active Adults. JSCR 2010 Mar 17.
Kelleher et al examined the difference between traditional “straight set” resistance training to “reciprocal superset” training.
Here’s two quick definitions for you:
STRAIGHT SET: Standard resistance training protocol – One set of presses, rest. Set of presses, rest. Repeat until all sets are done.
RECIPROCAL SUPERSET: Pairing opposite movements – Set of presses, quick rest, set of rows, quick rest. Not only do you actually get the same amount of rest between presses, you get twice as much work done in the same time. And thanks to a principle called “reciprocal innervation” you will actually be able to handle more weight in the paired exercises.
The researchers above concluded: “Reciprocal supersets produced greater exercise kJ.min, blood lactate, and EPOC than did [traditional straight sets]. Incorporating this method of resistance exercise may benefit exercisers attempting to increase energy expenditure and have a fixed exercise volume with limited exercise time available.”
In plain speak: You will raise your metabolism and make greater changes in your body IN LESS TIME with reciprocal supersets than with straight sets.
INSIDE LUKE’S HEAD: How can I create reciprocal supersets in all of my workouts?
The second study:
Paoli et al. Effects of three distinct protocols of fitness training on body composition, strength and blood lactate. JSMPF. 2010 Mar;50(1):43-51
Paoli et al compared 3 different training methods: cardio-only, low-intensity circuit, and high-intensity circuit.
Out of the 3 groups, the high-intensity circuit group lost the most weight, lost the most fat, lost the most off their waist measurement, raised their metabolism the most, and gained the most strength.
Here’s an excerpt from their conclusion: “The results obtained favored the conclusion that high-intensity exercise combined with endurance training in the circuit training technique is more effective than endurance training alone or low intensity circuit training in improving body composition, blood lactate, moreover high intensity circuit training results in significantly greater strength increase compared to traditional circuit training”
So… high-intensity circuits kick ass compared to low-intensity circuits and totally blow traditional cardio out of the water.
INSIDE LUKE’S HEAD (con’t from above): How can I put reciprocal supersets into high-intensity circuits?
When the chips are all on the table and changing your body really counts, forget traditional weight training and endurance-style cardio – use high intensity resistance training circuits instead.
Putting It All Together
Resistance training includes bodyweight exercises. Build your workouts around bodyweight and loaded exercises either paired or put into circuits, combine them with interval training, and clean up your diet and you’ll have a totally slamming body in wayyy less time.
I design all of the circuits for my personal training and bootcamp members – all you have to do is show up and push hard. If you’re not in bootcamp (why not?) start tweaking your workouts with these two ideas and you’ll finally start to see some results from your time in the gym!