High-Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) is a fast intense workout that can be done anywhere and is appropriate for all participants of all ages and skill level. HICT combines resistance and anaerobic exercises in conjunction with using large muscles groups to attain intensity; making the training effective and efficient. High-Intensity Circuit Training includes bursts of vigorous activity followed by lower intensity activity or short rest periods. A circuit consists of six to eight total body exercises that alternate between strength and conditioning at specific intervals. Circuits will alternate between muscle groups and vary the intensity of movements allowing for some rest between muscles and energy systems while maximizing work capacity.
The compound strength and conditioning exercises are taxing on the central nervous system. These exercises paired with lower intensity movements create efficient recovery. To maximize intensity the intervals are kept between 30-60 seconds. Throughout a circuit an athlete goes from one movement to the next with very little recovery time making HICT more challenging than other high intensity programs. High intensity circuit training is short, strenuous, and effective methodology that is beneficial for all who are up for the challenge.
Why is High Intensity Circuit Training effective?
HICT creates rapid changes in endurance levels, overall performance, body composition, and fat-burning capabilities. Recent studies have shown doing short ‘sprint-type’ training increases endurance capacity and improves metabolic adaptation faster than traditional steady state cardio (Kinnunen, Piitulainen and Piirainen, 2017). Circuits with intense strength and conditioning movements improves fat oxidation. Fat oxidation is the body’s ability to burn fat. Additionally, HICT increases glucose metabolism, which equates to greater fat loss.
Performance improves through the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can use during an intense workout, which is known as VO2 max levels. When VO2 max increases the body is able to handle more stress and train harder because it is able to transport and use oxygen more efficiently (Sperlich et al., 2018). An advantage of performing compound strength exercises in HICT, is a process known as EPOC. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, is the amount of calories that is burned after a workout, which will help burn fat and boost metabolism. EPOC occurs at a maximal level when the compound strength movements are combined with very little rest between sets. An increase in EPOC allows the body to elicits metabolic and aerobic benefits during HICT. There are many reasons to do high intensity circuit training whether you want to build lean muscle, reduce body fat, improve performance, or increase endurance. It is practical, efficient, and an accessible way to train. Try the workout below to experience a circuit for yourself and start reaping the benefits of HICT.
Gibala, M. and McGee, S. (2018). Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training . Sperlich, B., Wallmann-Sperlich, B., Zinner, C., Von Stauffenberg, V., Losert, H. and Holmberg, H. (2018). Functional High-Intensity Circuit Training Improves Body Composition, Peak Oxygen Uptake, Strength, and Alters Certain Dimensions of Quality of Life in Overweight Women .
Kettle bells are my favorite toy! They are the most versatile training tools in the shed by my standards. Over the years I have done tons of research and self-experimentation to get more connected with my beloved kettle bells, below is a list of some obscure ways that you can enjoy your kettle bells going into the new year.
Kettle bell juggling- this is a pretty extreme sport that takes a lot of courage and conditioning to be a part of. It originated from strongmen and circus acts to display an ultimate level of strength and skill, it truly demands both. An easy way to get started is by practicing a Russian swing and adding a bell flip at the top. This is simpler then it seems but beware of your toes in the learning stages. Google kettle bell juggling when you get a chance, it is an amazing site.
Kettle bell meditation- this is something that I created on my own, it might sound weird but it’s totally awesome when you get into it. Pick a few positions that you like to meditate in and find a creative way to hold a kettle bell while doing it. This will definitely test your strength, however the real test is trying to ignore the bell while focusing on your breathing. I love both kettle bells and meditation so it’s a match made in heaven. My favorite entry level is the goblet squat position, hold the bell while driving your elbows into you the inside of your legs to create an open stretch. Continue to focus on the breathing, lengthening your spine and avoid shifting around. Good luck
Kettle bell balance- balance is the most neglected aspect of training across the board. I can’t remember the last time I walked into a fitness class where I actually had to focus on balancing myself to complete the class, sounds silly but the world is a balancing act every which way you look at it (especially if you’re wearing high heels.) By using the handle or the flat side of a kettle bell you can create a very narrow ledge to practice balance-based movements. Some of my favorites are single leg dead lifts or single leg kettle bell rows. The more advanced movements are pistol squats or explosive lunges. It’s good to test your fitness to the next level by using simple things like balance, it will have a very rewarding outcome on the field if given enough time to grow.
Kettle bell mashing- I’m sure you all have heard of foam rolling, think of foam rolling with a kettle bell. The kettle bell is combination of a torture devise and an extremely hardened foam roller. My favorite ways to use this method is by placing my calves onto of the handle and slowing rolling out the sides or lower portion of my Achilles tendon. It is brutal way to get the job done!