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When was the last time you used the circuit training area at the gym? For many, this is where the love of lifting started. But it’s also a place that few return to, the rationale being that they’ve “graduated” to the big-boy weight room with all the mirrors. This is true. And it’s not.
Circuit training with machines holds value for lifters of all skill levels. When you’re just starting out, these machines help to build the mind-muscle connection necessary to prosper with free weight variations. And since most of your early gains are neurological – not physiological – it’s good to make progress rapidly in the safety of circuit row.
But for more seasoned lifters, you can always take what you’ve learned and bring it back to this part of the gym. Remember, machines allow you to go as heavy as you want, sans training partner, and by simply adjusting the weight loads you can still train for multiple goals, getting in and out of the gym in less time. Oh, and it’s a particularly nice break for those whose routines have grown stale or familiar.
For beginners and those looking to start training again after a break, circuit training is especially effective. The use of machines allows you to work through a predetermined range of motion and the exercise order allows for optimum muscle recovery. The 15-rep range helps to build muscular endurance while allowing newer lifters to develop some muscle memory with these basic movement patterns.
Just because you’re training in a circuit doesn’t mean you’re training light. In fact, machines allow you train heavy and safely without the use of a spotter, which leads to greater gains in strength and size. But this protocol will also help you in the metabolism department. Research shows that shorter rest periods between heavy sets helped lifters burn 50 percent more calories during the workout than those who rested three minutes. So go big and go brisk for max results. All you have to do is adjust the resistance accordingly.
The lines between heavy and light training were blurred by a recent study that showed subjects doing high-rep sets (~30 reps) to failure enjoyed gains in muscle size similar to a heavy (6-8 reps) training group. The higher volume, of course, is an aerobic challenge that produces a higher calorie burn per workout, keeping you lean.
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