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Pat Croce on Smooth Fitness

Cardio & Circuit Training

If you’re a fitness buff, I’m sure you’ve heard of cardio circuit training. It’s one of my favorite ways to kick things up a notch and challenge my physical stamina.

A well-rounded workout program should include some sort of cardio activity like walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming. These exercises strengthen the heart muscle and improve circulation, respiration, metabolism, and physical endurance.   

If you exercise regularly, you probably have one or two favorite cardio exercises that you perform during your workouts. (I like walking or running.)  It doesn’t really matter what kind of cardio workouts you do, as long as you do some sort of cardio in your fitness regimen at least three times each week.

To introduce variety into your workout routines, I recommend that you try engaging in a “cardio circuit.”  You don’t have to give up your usual workouts; you can do the cardio circuit on days when you aren’t doing your normal routines.  Keep in mind that varying exercise routines is a good way to ensure that all muscle groups are targeted and challenged to work harder. 

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What is “circuit training?”

Circuit training is a type of conditioning in which an individual moves from one exercise to another. Typically, this involves a series of different workout stations and/or pieces of equipment.

The cardio circuit may include exercising for five minutes or more on an aerobic fitness machine (i.e. treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bicycle, rowing machine or versa climber) and then moving on to another machine. If you do not have access to aerobic machines, you could substitute equipment by using a jump rope, medicine ball or an aerobic step.

Exercise sessions don’t have to become tedious. Your routines are limited only by your imagination! You can alter workouts by selecting different physical activities on specific days or you can vary the amount of time you spend on each activity from one session to another. You can even change the sequence of your activities or the time of day that you exercise. Perhaps you’ll exercise alone one day and with a group for the next circuit training session. The possibilities really are endless.

What are the benefits of cardio circuit training?

The heart is an amazing muscle that responds well to any continuous activity, regardless of source. It neither differentiates between activities nor prefers one activity over another. As a result, the heart muscle enjoys cardio circuit training as much as it enjoys a good jog or walk. 

In addition to keeping your heart happy and healthy, cardio circuit training also provides enough exercise variety to utilize and tone the muscles of both the upper and lower body in an alternating fashion. More fat calories are burned; peripheral circulation is increased; respiration is improved; and the body builds strength and endurance. Overall, your physical well-being gets better through cardio circuit training. 

Motivation is essential in any fitness program. If you aren’t motivated, you probably aren’t going to stick with the program. The variety involved in cardio circuit training can help to keep you motivated, and when you’re motivated, you are more apt to get moving! The rewards you’ll reap, including a high-energy existence, make it worth the effort. So, what are you waiting for? Get moving!

A Cardio Circuit Workout Example

Activity                       Duration                    Total Time

Treadmill                   15 minutes                15 minutes

Elliptical                     10 minutes                25 minutes

Jump Rope               5 minutes                  30 minutes

Bicycle                       10 minutes                40 minutes

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