Circuit Maximus

Circuit Maximus
If you think circuit-training is for novices, you’ll change your tune after doing this 7-day full-body program.

Remember the Nautilus machine circuits they used to take beginners through at the gym back in the day? The ones where the machines were lined up in a perfect row and people could go through the routine at a nice, leisurely pace?

Well, the workouts I’m about to show you, while similar in name, are nothing like that.

Circuit training may not sound like the most hardcore program out there, but leave it to me to turn it up a few notches with the help of cutting-edge science, hard work and a little creativity.

My full-body circuits are intense and demanding and done on consecutive days, utilizing a variety of equipment through the course of a week. I’ll work some machines in, sure, but you’ll also be doing circuits with barbells, dumbbells, cables, bands, and bodyweight moves.

These workout may not be as demanding as my recent Hundreds or H.I.T programs, but you’ll still be promoting gains in muscle mass and strength while also enhancing your cardio and recovery. 

These aren’t your father’s Nautilus circuits. This is seven days of fast-paced and intense full-body training. Don’t let the name – circuit training – fool you.

Circuit of Benefits

Circuit training refers to moving from one exercise for a muscle group to another exercise for a different muscle group, and repeating in this fashion until you’ve completed one set of one exercise for all major muscle groups. This cycle can then be repeated as many times as you like.

And while you may think this style of workout would leave muscle groups with too much rest, this isn’t the case at all. There’s no downfall here in terms of training stimulus, only benefit.

Think about it. If you start with one exercise for chest (say, bench press) and go to all-out failure, you allow the pecs to rest while you hit a set for back, legs, shoulders, traps, calves, triceps, biceps, forearms, and abs. But your body didn't get a rest, just your chest did. Now you can hit bench press again and likely get about the same number of reps as the first set.

In essence, you’re doing more work with this technique, because you’re able to maintain your rep counts with the same weight. And doing more work can lead to better gains in muscle strength, and even muscle mass.

When used for short periods of time, such as a week, circuit training can be repeated frequently with great results. I often come back to it every 6-12 weeks in my own program.

Another benefit to circuits is that, because you move from one muscle group to another, you don't fatigue as fast and can move through all exercises with little to no rest. This constant movement keeps your metabolic rate up and introduces a significant cardiovascular component to the training.

Circuit Sequence

In my circuit program, you’ll start each workout (and each circuit) with a chest exercise. Then, you’ll immediately move to a back exercise, then legs, shoulders, traps, calves, triceps, biceps, forearms, and finish with abs.

Typically, I’ll have you go through each circuit 3-4 times, though beginners can limit the volume to 1-2 circuits per workout and highly advanced individuals can do up to five rounds.

This will be the order of exercises:

  1. Chest
  2. Back
  3. Legs
  4. Shoulders
  5. Traps
  6. Calves
  7. Triceps
  8. Biceps
  9. Forearms
  10. Abs

The nice thing about my style of circuit training is that you don't have to repeat the same exercise each time you come back to that muscle group. If you repeat the circuit three times, you can certainly do bench press in all three rounds. Or, you can do three different exercises that hit different areas of the chest (ie, a flat-bench press, an incline press and a decline press). Or, you can do three different exercises that hit the same area of the muscle group (ie, three incline moves – say, an incline press, a feet-elevated push-up and an incline dumbbell flye).

Below are my seven workouts in the Circuit Maximus program. They all follow the circuit-training concept, but they don’t all look the same – far from it. Each circuit features a different training technique, in addition to circuit-training being its own unique technique.

You’ll see workouts that alter rep ranges and place different focus on muscle groups; light work using only single-joint exercises, plus heavy weights and compound moves; light but explosive “power” training; and even a routine consisting of “mini-circuits.”

As I mentioned before, you’ve never seen circuits like these. Over the course of a week’s worth of workouts, you’ll be keeping intensity, metabolic rate and muscle-building potential high while also enhancing power, strength, endurance and cardiovascular capacity.

I designed the workouts to be done on seven consecutive days, but if you're not as advanced as me you certainly please feel free to insert rest days. If you prefer to train three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), that will work fine with this program. Just do Workouts 1, 2 and 3 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then Workouts 4, 5 and 6 the following week, then Workout 7 the next Monday. You can start your next program two days later, on Wednesday. If you train four days a week, you can do this program Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Make this program your own.

Circuit Maximus Workouts

(To download a workout to your mobile device, click on the workout title – Workout 1, Workout 2, etc.)

Workout 1

In this workout, I stuck to dumbbells to maintain one station in the gym, but feel free to...

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