Doing Excess Cardio and Not Getting The Results?

What 90% of fitness enthusiasts are trying to achieve

There are two goals that most people will mention when they first start a fitness program: “I want to lose weight. I want to tone up”. Where people experience most difficulty is being able to do one without doing the other, and as a result, feeling very frustrated about the hours consumed on trying to achieve the balance. When it comes to fitness, the main form of depleting active muscle gains, is excess steady state cardiovascular exercise, for example, a prolonged treadmill run at slow speed and low incline; prolonged bike ride at low resistance. Does our target HR have to be maintained during our workout to achieve that defined look by burning calories? Absolutely. So how do we work around this while increasing muscle mass? 

How to balance your 1 Hour Circuit Training session

As we mentioned above, we want to be able to maintain our target heart rate during our workout. This figure is determined by our age and fitness level and is the effective level our cardiovascular system burns energy, while being able to endure the duration of our session. You want to complete your circuit workout within 45-60mins if your goal is to build muscle, and not deplete the gains we talked about. Circuit training is done at high intensity with plenty of short rest periods, focusing on dynamic movements throughout so all muscle groups are tested, keeping your target HR high for efficient weight loss. The more muscle tissue that your body develops; the more calories are needed for muscle recovery on consumption, meaning that the right nutrients consumed will store less fat. 

Why Circuit Training is kept high intensity and dynamic

Your body utilizes three primary energy systems during exercise, that being your aerobic, anaerobic and CP (creatine phosphate). To keep it short, they all burn different fuel sources in the body. The aerobic system, that uses oxygen during in its metabolic activity, burns fat cells in the body. The anaerobic system, that uses no oxygen, burns carbohydrates and sugars as a primary source. Our aerobic system responds to activity when our heart rate is lower and expands its threshold as we workout for a long duration of time. A marathon runner would have a high aerobic capacity. Our anaerobic system is tested effectively when our target heart rate is 75-90% of our maximum HR threshold. Sprints, jumps, burpees would be a great form of anaerobic training. Combining hill runs with these drills is a great way to activate your aerobic and anaerobic systems simultaneously. This way sugars, carbs, and fat can all be burned at once during your workout. Your anaerobic system cannot be present in your workout without high intensity, therefore lots of carbs and sugar in the body will eventually store as fat with too much low intensity exercise and the energy is left unused.

2 Basics For Designing A Circuit Training Program For Beginners

Uphill Sprints

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Uphill sprints in my view are the platform of a good circuit training program. The  anaerobic system is best utilized going uphill and the aerobic coming downhill. To add further benefit to this drill, large muscle groups are tested in the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and core. This means more energy is needed in performing the exercise and achieves great weight loss results in the process of building muscle in key areas.

Jumping Squats


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Apart from being a great calorie burner, jumping squats improve your flexibility and the mobility of your hips. Again the focus on muscle gains will be in the quads, hams and calves. Abdominals benefit greatly as well. This exercise is also key for improving circulation in the body.

Ben Walker is a Your House Fitness personal trainer based in Toronto, ON. To view his profile click on his name.