I’m a weights guy.
I love lifting.
Bodybuilding, powerlifting, pumping iron, ya know?
Even so, I’ve found there are exercises outside of simply heaving around tons of weight that can have a direct benefit on performance, recovery, fat loss, and health.
In today’s article, I’m going to show you how circuits and complexes can be performed and programmed to fit your overall goals.
And at the end, you can grab a free copy of my Metabolic Fat Loss manual, which is packed with 28 different circuit and complex style workouts.
Let’s get to the good stuff.
Circuits and Complexes: What Are They?
Circuit training involves performing exercises in a cyclical fashion with minimal rest or prescribed rest times. These can be done with a variety of tools like bodyweight, DB’s, barbells, kettlebells, med balls etc.
Usually, there is a theme or purpose to the circuit if they’re designed properly. They usually involve different exercises with different weights and rep schemes.
- Circuits are beneficial for people looking to increase their heart rate while still getting some of the benefits of resistance training (muscle building, fat loss, etc).
- They’re quick, effective, and can help you burn loads of calories and improve your conditioning.
I don’t mind the elliptical or treadmill for cardio but some people can’t stand it.
If you’re someone who likes some variety and gets bored easily on the treadmill, then circuit training will be right up your alley.
The best part is, you can modify the exercises to make them as easy or difficult as you’d like based on your current fitness level.
This means you can start where it’s appropriate instead of being forced to do a crazy Crossfit workout your first day getting back to the gym.
Complexes, while very similar to circuit training, are usually done with the same weighted implement the entire time. There are many different ways to perform these.
One of the best ways to do them is performing a sequence of exercises, likely 4-5, in a row without resting or putting the weight down.
You could use dumbbells or barbell where you do a prescribed number of reps for every exercise and go right to the next until all exercises have been completed.
Complexes can be a little bit more demanding and are generally tougher overall, so if you’re new to these styles of training, start with circuit style first and practice good quality movements.
Who They’re Best For
These 2 styles of training are beneficial for those who are pretty much injury free, move fairly well, and have a solid understanding of the movements.
I wouldn’t really recommend circuit training for someone who has never exercised before as there won’t be enough of a base to work with from a strength and work capacity standpoint.
If you have at least some knowledge of proper exercise technique then these can be highly beneficial.
How to Program Them
I’m a big believer that strength training should almost always come first. With that being said, a lot of people like to mix up their workouts and get in some variety.
That’s where these 2 types of training can really come in handy.
- When paired with a lifting program, metabolic workouts are great for individual workouts in between ‘lifting’ days or as finishers at the end of some of your normal workouts.
You can certainly *only* do circuit style training for all of your workouts but I’ve found they work best for improving work capacity, strength and endurance when combined with a dedicated strength training program.
2 Workouts to Try Today
First up is a circuit workout that doesn’t require any weight aside from your bodyweight. This makes it the perfect choice when you’re traveling, away from home, or just feel like keeping it simple yet effective.
With this metabolic circuit you’ve got 4 exercises you’ll perform in a row.
A1) Bodyweight squat
A3) Single-leg hip thrust
A4) Straight-leg sit up
You can decide how many reps of each you want to do. Here, I just did 5 reps of each exercise.
With these type of workouts, they should be fairly quick. That’s what makes them perfect as finishers at the end of a workout or when you’re really busy but still want to feel like you did something productive.
Set the timer for 10-15 minutes and do anywhere from 5-15 reps per exercise. Once you complete all the exercises you can rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
The shorter the rest periods the less recovery. If you’re looking to improve your conditioning faster, try decreasing the rest periods by 10 seconds week after week if doing this workout again.
Next, here’s a complex you can do. All you need is a pair of dumbbells.
A1) DB Overhead Press
A2) DB Bentover Row
A3) DB Split Squat
A4) DB Romanian Deadlift
The difference between this workout and the circuit previously is that you will hold onto the weights the entire round without setting them down. Some complexes require you to keep hold of the weights for the entire workout, too.
You don’t have to do that, but if you want the added challenge try it!
Perform the exercises above all in a row, again you can decide how many reps to do each time. With complexes, I like keeping the reps a little lower than circuits since you are holding weights or using external resistance.
The way I did the workout above was 5 reps per exercise and 4 total rounds without putting the weights down.
Want 28 Free Fat Loss Workouts?
If you think you’re up for the challenge, adding in some metabolic fat loss workouts to your current training program can be a huge boost to your performance and recovery in the gym.
You’ll notice you have better stamina.
You’ll enjoy the increased definition and strength.
And you’ll sweat in less time which is always a plus.
So, I want to send you 28 of my all-time favorite circuit workouts absolutely free. I’ve sold this before for $29.99 but today I want to give it to you to take for a test spin.
Metabolic Fat Loss was designed to help you get in quick, effective, fat loss workouts that can be completed in 20 minutes or less.
I’ll send you your very own copy when you join my exclusive community below. Simply plug in your info and you’re in.
Once you join, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Metabolic Fat Loss” in the subject line and I’ll send your copy over lickity split.
Let’s get after it 🙂