A lightning-quick circuit you can sweat through when you’ve got just 15 minutes to get fitter, leaner and healthier.
If you’re short on time, yet big on lean ambitions, then circuits should be your weapons of choice. In fact, they’re so effective that studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found doing them for eight weeks made people lose more fat than traditional sets, all while still gaining more muscle and strength. The real kicker is that you only have to do one set on each exercise.
Although this runs contrary to reason, research in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that doing one set on a circuit burnt as many calories 72 hours after the workout as doing three sets did.
The workout below uses that weird science to your advantage. Circuits don’t limit you to a single rep-range and can use different exercises to keep shocking your body while maintaining a high level of motivation by keeping things fresh and interesting. Use it to sharpen up your cuts and increase your fitness in record time.
Works: shoulders, chest, triceps, abs
- Lie prone on the ground. Support your body with the balls of your feet and have your hands narrower than shoulder-width apart. Have a training partner place a weight plate on your back.
- Bend your elbows to lower yourself to the floor, then straighten them to return to the start position.
Works: biceps, forearms, lats
- Grab the parallel handles of a chin-up station, so your palms face each other. Hang with straight arms.
- Bend your elbows until your chin crosses the bar, then lower to the start position.
Works: glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a bench. Rest a barbell on the backs of your shoulders.
- Bend your hips and knees to lower yourself towards the bench. Stop when your glutes rest on it and straighten your legs to the start position.
Lying hamstring ball curl
Works: hamstrings, abs
- Lie supine on the floor with your calves resting on a Swiss ball and your arms outstretched.
- Squeeze your glutes and bend your knees to raise your hips off the floor and roll the ball towards your backside. Straighten your legs to roll the ball away from you.
Standing dumbbell shoulder press
Muscles: shoulders, abs
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and hoist them up so they’re on either side of your head.
- Straighten your arms to push the weights above your head. Lower back to the start.
Abs wheel rollout
Works: abs, shoulders, lower back
- Kneel in front of an abs wheel and place your hands on the handles.
- Roll the wheel forward, extending your body as far as you can without letting your hips sag. Pause for two seconds, then reverse the move to return to the start.
Find workouts and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.