Doing the same workout over and over again gets boring. Boring workouts lead to a lack of motivation. And a lack of motivation usually leads to quitting.
So how do you keep things fun? Use different types of circuits. Different types of circuit workouts combined with different exercises and/or rep schemes leads to an endless possibility of workouts. You literally NEVER have to do the same workout again if you don’t want to. In my guidebook, Swing into Spring, I’ve included five different workouts, each one a different type of circuit to keep things fun and exciting. Grab your free copy here.
Here’s a break down of the different types of circuits with an example of each (Note: this list isn't exhaustive. There are a couple more types of circuit workouts out there I didn’t include, but with the following you’ll be set for a long time. :)
· Time based: time-based circuits involve setting a timer and working and resting for specific amounts of time
o Positive – A positive time-based circuit would be when you are resting for longer than you are working. Example: work for 15 seconds following by 20 seconds of rest
o Negative – A negative time-based circuit would be when you work for longer than you rest. Example: work for 20 seconds following by 10 seconds of rest
o Even – Even time-based circuits are when the work and rest period are equal. Example: 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest
· Ladders – Ladders are when the reps either ascend or descend each round for every exercise. The number of exercises in the workout does not matter. The number of reps can increase or decrease by any amount. You can also pair ascending and descending ladders together (so one exercise is an ascending ladder, while the other exercise is a descending ladder).
o Descending Ladder example:
Goblet Squat 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Swing 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
It would look like this- squat for 10, swing for 10, squat for 9, swing for 9, all the way down to 1 of each
o Ascending Ladder example:
KB Push Press – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
Double KB Front Squat – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
KB Racked March – 2, 4, 6, 8, 10/side
It will look like: 2 of each, 4 of each, all the way up to 10 reps of each exercise
o Ascending and descending ladder (this is my favorite)
Reverse Lunge - 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 2 /leg
Kettlebell Swing – 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
It would look like this – 10 reverse lunges per leg, 10 kettlebell swings, 8 lunges per leg, 12 swings, all the way to 2 lunges/leg, 20 swings
· Pyramid – A pyramid is kind of like an ascending and descending ladder on crack (insert devil emoji here). The reps will increase each round then once you reach the top they will descend back down. I’ve included a pyramid workout in Swing into Spring, combining swings and push-ups for a total body killer workout.
o Example: 4, 8, 12, 16, 12, 8, 4 of pushups & goblet squats
o This will look like 4 push ups, 4 squats, 8 of each, 12, of each, 16 of each, then back to 12, 8, 4
· Complexes – A complex is when you must finish the prescribed number of reps for the exercise before moving onto the next, using the same piece of equipment for the entire workout. Using a barbell is popular for complexes, but any piece of equipment can be used. This example uses a kettlebell.
o Example: 5 rounds of the following
Goblet Clean - 5
Goblet Squat – 5
2 Hand Swing – 5
This will look like 5 cleans, followed by 5 goblet squats, followed by 5 swings, repeat for a total of 5 rounds
· Combo’s – A combo is similar to a complex, but there is only one rep for each exercise. Like a complex, you will use the same piece of equipment for every exercise and you will not put it down until the round is over.
o Example: 3 times through the following equals ONE REP! Repeat for 3-5 rounds.
Double KB Clean - 1
Double KB Push Press - 1
Double KB Front Squat - 1
Double KB Swing – 1
It’ll look like this: 1 double clean, 1 double push press, 1 double front squat, 1 double swing, then right back to the double clean. Once you’ve completed 3 times through you may set the kettlebells down. Repeat 3-5 times. Be careful these types of circuits are deceiving ;)
· Chain – A chain involves adding one rep each round to one or two exercises. For example, say you want to do a full body circuit but really want to hammer your legs. You can add one rep each round to the lower body exercises
Front Squat – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
See-Saw Press – 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 / side
Reverse Lunge – 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Bent Row – 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6
The number of see-saw presses and bent rows stay the same every round but the number of front squats and reverse lunges increase.
· Chippers – Chipper style workouts involve a large number of reps of each exercise. In a CrossFit style chipper you have to complete each exercise before moving onto the next. Personally, I don’t like that. (It sounds boring and torturous to me.) So in my classes I have clients break the number of reps into however many sets they want.
100 jump rope reps
50 med ball slams
30 pledge planks
So you could break this down into 10 sets of 10 jump ropes, 5 medball slams, 3 pledge planks, or 5 sets of 20 jump ropes, 10 med balls slams, 6 pledge planks. Or, however else your heart chooses. There is no wrong combination!
For all of the circuits above, with the exception of the time-based ones, rest as needed. Using these methods along with switching up your exercises and rep schemes every time will lead to an endless possibility of workouts, reducing boredom and increasing motivation. For more examples of different circuit style workouts check out the free guidebook I created, Swing into Spring. It includes time-based, ladder, and pyramid workouts among others not covered in this blog. Even better, you only need one kettlebell to complete all of the workouts. You can pick up your free copy here.
If you have any other questions regarding circuit style training please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org