Posts Tagged ‘resistance’

How people usually do Resistance/Weight Training:
The traditional method of resistance or ‘weight training‘ that people do in the gym is called ‘Station Training.‘ In this method, the exercises are arranged in such a way that you have to finish all the sets in one exercise first before proceeding to the next. This is good and reasonable because you can focus on developing one muscle group by doing a specific exercise. Below is an example of a traditional resistance training workout:

SHOP1. Leg exercise: Barbell Squats- 8 reps x 3 sets
2. Chest exercise: Bench Press- 8 reps x 3 sets
3. Arms: Biceps Curl- 8 reps x 3 sets
4. Triceps Extension- 8 reps x 3 sets
5. Lat Pull Down- 8 reps x 3 sets

What is Circuit Training?
Circuit Training is a method of doing exercises in sequence so that two or more sets of an exercise are not done in a row. It is another type of High Intensity Training that works both muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. Instead of completing all of the sets of a specific exercise first before doing the next exercise, circuit training allows for continuous movement by doing consecutive exercises that targets different muscle groups. Circuit Training is different from High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) because each exercise have the same number of repetitions throughout the whole circuit. Below is an example of a circuit training:

1. Squats: 12 reps x 1 setWeight-Training-Women-Dumbbell-Circuit-Workout
2. Bench Press: 12 reps x 1 set
3. Biceps Curl: 12 reps x 1 set
4. Triceps Extension: 12 reps x 1 set
5. Lat Pull Down: 12 reps x 1 set
6. Squats: 12 reps x 1 set
7. Bench Press: 12 reps x 1 set
8. Biceps Curl: 12 reps x 1 set
9. Triceps Extension: 12 reps x 1 set
10. Lat Pull Down: 12 reps x 1 set

What are the advantages of Circuit Training over the traditional Station Training?
Compared to the traditional method of resistance training, Circuit Training allows for faster transition in between exercises. In the traditional resistance training method, rest periods are done for every set of every exercise. This is unfavorable if you are pressed for time in the gym. Circuit training also allows for greater energy system benefits because your body is working continuously as a different muscle group will be working while previously worked muscle groups will be ‘resting.’ Compared to traditional strength training, there is an improvement in cardiovascular capacity when doing circuit training and may lead to greater fat loss.

What are the disadvantages of Circuit Training?
Because exercises are done continuously one after another, the load should be lighter than usual to maintain quality and safety when doing the exercises. Also, even if it does improve cardiovascular capacity, it won’t beat endurance training with regards to benefits.


Let’s get to the workout! How can I program my own circuit training at home?

Here are some tips on how to design a good Circuit Training workout:
1402213_orig1. Opposing muscle groups (agonist and antagonist) should be alternated between resting and exercising. For example, after doing bicep curls, your next exercise can be tricep extensions.
2. Upper body and Lower body exercises can also be alternated between resting and exercising. For example, after doing push ups, you can do squats after. This allows for the ‘push up muscles’ (pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, triceps, abdominals) to recover while you target different muscle groups and you’ll be able to perform push ups with proper form and technique at the next circuit set.
3. You can adjust the volume of training by doing a specific number of reps, or you do the most repetitions in a specific time duration. For example, you can either program your circuit to require 10 repetitions for every exercise, or you can set 30 seconds for each exercise and do the most number of repetitions as you can for each exercise.
4. In circuit training, your body will be working continuously, so putting heavy loads is not advisable. Lift lighter weights or do exercises that uses only your body weight.
5. If you are doing circuit training with weights, it is better to stick with the least number of equipment or station that you will use. For example, you can use free weights or just dumbbells for all exercises instead of going from one machine to another.
6. The original protocol for circuit training has 9 to 12 exercise stations. There is no ideal number but for a general program, it is important to keep in mind that you want to work all muscles at appropriate intensities during the whole exercise session. Personally, I recommend having at least 8 exercise stations which I think would be enough for all muscle groups to be worked on. Also, it is better to do exercises that work on muscle groups compared to doing single-joint exercises (bicep curls, tricep extension, lateral raises, etc).
7. If you are using light weights or just your body weight, you can do 15 to 20 repetitions per exercise. If you are adding additional load to each exercise, try doing less repetitions. Remember that quality and safety is still more important than the total volume of your exercise.
8. How long should you rest in between exercises in circuit training? If rest intervals are too long, it diminishes the effect of circuit training to overall cardiovascular capacity. To maximize the benefit of circuit training, rest for 30 seconds or less in between circuit sets. In between individual exercises, I recommend resting for 10 to 15 seconds max for time efficiency and maintain appropriate overall exercise intensity.
Let’s really get on with the workout!

Here’s a sample Circuit Training workout using only bodyweight which means that you can do it at home, in your office and even in your hotel room if you are travelling.

1. Jumping Jacks- 15 repsJumping-Jacks-Shoulder-Press
2. Alternating Lunges- 15 reps
3. Push ups- 15 reps
4. Oblique crunches- 15 reps per side
5. Hip bridge- 15 reps
6. Bulgarian squats- 15 reps per leg
7. Single leg superman- 15 reps per leg
8. Pike to plank- 15 reps

Circuit Training is an efficient way to decrease body fat, improve VO2 max (respiratory capacity), and even minimize risk for diabetes. As people today have less and less time for the gym, exercise methods such as circuit training may be the best option for busier individuals.

If you think you have no time for exercise, then you can now exchange total exercise time (doing the traditional station method) for total exercise effort (High Intensity Circuit Training) and get the same, or even better, health and fitness benefits.


If you are only starting your journey into fitness, check out this mini-circuit sequence¬†called “April wings” for the arms.

For a more elaborate article about Circuit Training, check out this ACSM Health and Fitness journal: HIGH INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODYWEIGHT- Maximum Results with Minimum Investment.

strength training

The Pull up is a basic upper body exercise. However, it remains unfamiliar to most fitness enthusiasts and gym buffs as most people tend to focus on aesthetic muscle building, ie, working on muscle groups that can be easily seen and adored such as the chest, arms, forearms, and abdominals. In addition to being a less familiar exercise, it is also difficult and can be very challenging not just for newbies in the gym, but sometimes even for long term gym-goers who neglect this very essential exercise.

Nevertheless, this exercise is very convenient to do and all you need is your body and a hanging bar. Pull ups can be done by both men and women. In fact, some women do pull ups as a regular exercise in their routine.

It’s not too late to start!

What are the benefits of doing Pull ups?

The Pull ups is a very effective resistance exercise as the only equipment you need are your body and a bar that is high enough. It is a compound exercise that targets the big muscle groups of the upper trunk (yes, there’s a muscle in your trunk that is bigger than your chest and biceps) which means that you’ll need more energy to do it and burn more calories. Apart from targeting these muscle groups, it also works the arms and abs as well! This exercise is not solely resistance as it will most likely pump up your heart rate. Compared to the squats or push-ups, you are literally off the floor while doing this exercise, so the intensity is definitely high! Also, almost all of your muscles will need to work to keep your body stable and well-supported. When paired with an exercise like the burpee, the pull ups will be an excellent cardiovascular workout.

What are the muscles targeted by Pull ups?

These are the main muscles that are targeted by the Pull ups:

Latissimus Dorsi – this is your big back muscle that connects from your hips, and to individual spines of your back, and inserts into the back of your arms. When developed well, this supports the back for movement and it’s a great muscle to rip as well!

Trapezius – this is another big muscle on your back that is connected from the middle of your trunk to your shoulders and the back of the arms. They support the movement of your shoulder blades and arms, and assist in the both the lifting and lowering phase of the pull up.

Abdominals – the abdominals support the legs throughout each lift, and in some variations like the L-pull up, the abdominals can be totally targeted.

Biceps – the pull ups work the arms as well, especially when doing variations such as the chin ups. Some modifications on the grip can also target this muscle.

Forearms – your legs are up in the air and you basically rely on your grip strength all throughout the exercise to keep yourself from falling on the floor. Pull up variations such as the towel or rope pull ups target the forearms more.


Why should I do a Pull up when I can do a ‘Pull down’?

As you can already see, the traditional Pull up works a lot of muscle groups and can really increase your heart rate. With the Lat Pull down machine, you are sitting down and you’re probably going to relax your legs. There would be less pressure on your forearms and your abs and legs will go to sleep after one set.

How to do the Pull ups:

The step by step ways to do the pull ups is very easy to say, but doing it is a totally different and hard thing to do. You can simply copy a person doing pull ups. But the question is, how can I increase the number of pull ups that I can do?

First of all, don’t be ashamed of your one-rep pull up. Everyone starts with something, and it’s better to start with one. The thing is, challenge yourself to do additional sets of pull ups instead of maxing out your energy by trying to do more reps of one set. If you can only do one pull up, start with doing one pull up for 3 to 5 sets. Rest in between sets should be enough for your muscles to recover, and you should be sure that you can do your next rep in the best form.

Watch this short video “Beginners Pull Up Workout:


What are variations of Pull ups?
Amazingly, there are lots of variations that can be done with the pull ups. You may have seen people try to increase the intensity of their pull ups by adding a weight on their legs or tying a heavy chain around their waist. This helps, but there are a lot more options to challenge your pull ups and even work on smaller muscles for better support.

This video shows 25 variations for Pull ups. You can see the list after the video:

1. Regular Pull up
2. Chin up
3. Wide-grip Pull up
4. Wide-grip Chin up
5. Hammer-grip Pull up
6. Combo-grip Pull up
7. Towel Pull up
8. Commando Pull up
9. Alternating Pull up
10. Side swipers

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11. One arm assisted
12. Subscapularis Pull up
13. Clap Pull ups
14. Circular
15. Upside Down Pull ups
16. Switch ups
17. Triangle Pull ups
18. Kipping Pull ups
19. Behind the Head
20. X-grip

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21. Gorilla
22. Close-grip Pull up
23. Pull and Push
24. L-pull ups
25. 3,2,1 finger Pull ups

Go, ‘get off’ your feet and start pulling!

strength training