FREQUENCY: Three to six days per week. Combine circuit-training exercises with other physical activity. If you're a runner, add it to your regimen - run three to four days and circuit train one to two days per week. If weather prevents you from practicing your sport, stay home and use your own bodyweight to circuit train.
Target muscle: Heart
EXERCISES: The choices are endless - and exercises are interchangeable. Circuit efforts are easily adapted to any sport or movement you enjoy; the exercises provide a quality workout and demand effort from the entire body; a circuit can be performed at varying paces depending on your fitness level. Here are just a few examples: Squats; push-ups; lunges; mountain climbers; jumping jacks; stair climb or step-ups; squat thrusts; crunches; leg raises; skipping; dips from a chair.
ALTERNATING THE EXERCISES: Plan your workout by choosing six exercises. Perform 15 repetitions of the first exercise (or less if you are a beginner or fatigued), rest and move the next exercise. Move from one movement to the next as quickly as possible to assure a cardiovascular benefit. Complete all six and repeat the circuit if you have reserve energy. You'll find that some exercises such as jumping jacks will be more cardiovascular in nature while others will be more focused on muscles endurance. Alternating between them is recommended.
BENEFIT: In addition to making your heart stronger, this type of training will increase bone density and tendon and ligament strength, heighten body awareness, improve coordination and body composition, and enhance athletic performance - all in the comfort of your own home. As your endurance level increases, you will be able to rest for shorter periods of time between the exercises, which will improve your cardio capacity and stamina. Don't let the winter weather stand in the way of your workouts. Try circuit training to condition your heart and to strengthen your muscles in your own home.
NEXT WEEK: Stress management
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989.
Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com.
Look for Cindy's fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site www.cindysays.com or contact the YMCA at 340-3527.