In my last blog I discussed how we use weightlifting to burn fat at the Bodysmith. That’s because the methods we use—referred to as metabolic resistance training—not only help you lose weight, but also increase your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day … even while sleeping! Metabolic Resistance Training is simply the best, most efficient way of exercising to get strong, lean, and fit. FULL STOP!

I’d love to pass this method off as my own, but I have a confession to make. I’m following in the footsteps of people like Alwyn Cosgrove and Nick Tumminello who have studied and written books on the subject, and I encourage you to look them up because they are great background for anyone interested in fitness. But today I want to talk about another concept for how resistance training can help you become your best self: Big Circuits.

If You’re Going to Go, Go BIG!
Here’s the low down: the science behind Big Circuits is to string together a circuit of exercises that focus on large muscle groups, with minimal rest in between. If you remember, about a year ago I wrote about a similar concept using a system I use called the Big 4. In brief, this was four exercises arranged to work the whole body, increasing the heart rate with a minimal investment of time. You can go back and read it if you want to delve deeper.

So, the Big 4 is one Big Circuit, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. So, here are the key points to remember if you want to do a Big Circuit right … and I know you do 🙂

  • Use weights that are challenging. Steer clear of the little pink dumbbells. Aim for weights that allow you to perform a max of 6-12 repetitions with good form.
  • Move from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. Then, rest after one full circuit. (And remember, one to three minutes is all you need.)
  • Think of exercises that involve multiple muscle groups like squats and rowing. Save the bicep curls for another day, or for focus work after you’ve completed your circuit.

For an example let’s revisit the Big 4 circuit. It was arranged by dividing the body into four quadrants and performing one exercise for each. To keep it simple, the basic order of exercises is:

  1. Upper-body pulling (row variations)
  2. Lower-body knee dominant (squats, lunges, step ups)
  3. Upper-body pushing (pushups, chest presses, shoulder presses)
  4. Lower-body hip dominant (deadlifts, RDL)

But, there are a million variations. Just check out an example of a Big 4 workout that uses only dumbbells.

K-I-S-S
As simple as the Big 4 is, it can be trimmed down even further to the Big 3. By removing a lower body exercise, you will save some time, but I recommend that you choose a big bang lower body exercise like deadlifts or goblet squats. Here’s what it looks like:

  1. Upper-body pulling
  2. Lower-body hip OR knee dominant
  3. Upper-body pushing

So we’ve got a three exercise circuit and a four exercise circuit. Now, let’s go the other direction and take a look at the Big 5. This version adds a core exercise to round out your full-body workout.

  1. Upper-body pulling
  2. Lower-body knee dominant
  3. Upper-body pushing
  4. Lower-body hip dominant
  5. Core

Presto! Now you’ve got three different circuit variations you can use for efficient, full-body, fat-burning workouts. But I can’t stop there. If you are like me, you want to mix it up even further. Variation can be accomplished simply by using unilateral exercises.

Unilateral exercises primarily use a single arm or leg. This strategy is fantastic because extra core stability is required to maintain balance and protect the spine. Always a bonus! To see an example using unilateral movements check out this quick workout.

Next time I’ll cover the last strategy for weight training for weight loss.

Be healthy, be well,

–Coach Brad

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