Traditionally, people who workout do straight sets. Straight sets mean you simply do a certain amount of reps and then take a break. After that break from lifting, you go back to lifting again. The break time depends on your goals but can be as long as 5 minutes. This type of workout can be boring and often very ineffective.
So, what’s the problem with this format? Well, though straight sets are extremely easy to comprehend for people new to fitness, they are also an extremely inefficient way to order your exercises. In most commercial gyms you’ll typically see someone perform three sets of 10 reps for let’s say the bench press. They do the same amount of reps, go look out a window, talk with some friends, Look for the latest news or scores on the television, and then slowly head back for the next set. In general, most people, men in particular, will take up to 5 minutes between sets. The sets usually take way under a minute for every 5 minutes of rest. They are working out only 1/10th of the time.
A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is though supersets, trisets, or circuit training. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. The great part is by working different parts of the body you will recover and do more work in less time. Here is a definition of the three different formats:
1.)Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges)
2.)Trisets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges)
3.)Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises
Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, I believe circuit training is by the far the best option time and time again. To demonstrate why, let’s examine my favorite circuit training template using timed set intervals:
The 50 -10 second Five Exercise Circuit: You will alternate between 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for all five exercises in the following 5-minute circuit:
Exercise#1- Squat Jumps
Exercise#2- Push Ups
Exercise#3- Reverse Lunges
Exercise#5- Sit Ups
Perform this circuit up to four times for a 20-minute total body fat burning workout.
Basically, in the same 15 minutes of rest time between doing three you could do an amazing and much more effective 15 work sets! Plus, the intensity on each exercise will be just as high as in the straight set format because in this five exercise circuit you will have full recovery with over four minutes before you return to any given exercise (just as you did with the straight set format described earlier).
To recap, the key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training provides for the best of both worlds and is thus simply unmatched for simultaneously maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain. Here is a sample of how you could set up circuit training:
Exercise#1- Double Legs/Core
Exercise#3- Single Leg
I’ll be sharing some more great circuit training workouts from my boot camps in the weeks to come