When I am out and about and the topic of conversation turns to me and what I do for a living, I am tempted to make something up and reveal my hidden identity as a secret agent (in your dreams). Why? Because when people find out I am a personal trainer the first question is nearly always “what can I do to lose these bits?” or “what can I do to lose weight quickly?” In the early days I used to give a long explanation about how it takes hard work and how every individual is a different case and I couldn’t possibly tell without spending some time training them. As I blabbered on about the body’s energy systems I noticed their attention start to waver and you could almost hear their brains switching off (probably because you’re so boring).
It occurred to me that people just aren’t interested in a real answer and only want to know the quick fix. They see the movie stars lose weight/gain muscle in what seems like just a matter of days and assume that they have been entrusted with the knowledge of all trainers, the holy grail of exercise that will create their super human body. What they don’t realise is how hard they have had to work to achieve these results and the hours they have had to put in at the gym under the expert guidance of their personal trainer.
The true answer is that there is no quick fix, no holy grail of exercise and the majority of marketing that tells you otherwise is just playing on your weakness: that hope that someone has really found an exercise or supplement that builds a healthy fit body with next to no effort. But it doesn’t work like that, it takes hard work, time and a hell of a lot of self discipline.
For those of you who don’t believe me and will still hunt for that hidden secret whatever the cost let me share with you what I consider to be one of the best and fastest ways to lose weight and gain muscle tone fast.
The speed circuit is an exercise routine that avoids boredom and long periods of time on cardiovascular equipment. It also avoids long periods of rest time, which may not be good news for those of you who treat the gym as a social meeting point. For those of you who are serious about getting fit and want to dedicate your gym time to yourselves and maximise the benefits from the time spent in the gym, then speed circuits are ideal.
Every speed circuit starts with a warm up to get the body ready. For the warm up you can pick any piece of cardiovascular equipment like the treadmill or stationary bike. This allows you to warm up the muscles to help avoid injury and gets the heart rate up to prepare the body for exercise. For our example we will use the treadmill:
The Circuit: 3 Exercises
The circuit involves 3 exercises and these exercises can involve a combination of any body parts. However for the best results it is an idea to primarily use the largest muscle groups like legs, chest and back and have the smaller muscle groups like arms and shoulders appear just the once. For our example we will use Squats for the first exercise, Bench Press for the second and Shoulder Press for the last exercise. Each exercise is performed 10 times and then you move straight onto the next exercise with no rest period. When you get to the last exercise (Shoulder Press) start again with the Squat, without any rest period. Keep going until you have completed the whole circuit 5 times: i.e. Squats x 10, Bench Press x 10, Shoulder Press x 10 and do this 5 times.
When you have completed these 5 repetitions you are allowed to have a rest and it is at this point that you will have prepared another 3 exercises that you repeat in the same way. Once the second speed circuit is finished you have finished this section of the routine, unless you are fit in which case you can add another round or as many as you fancy.
To complete the exercise section we finish with abdominal exercises and for our example we will use Hip Raises, Hard Crunches and Twist Crunches. Why do we have the abdominal exercises at the end? It is a good way to allow your body to cool down and as you should be using your abdominal muscles to aid your core strength throughout all the other exercises. By performing them at the end you won’t have tired them out so you can perform perfect technique for all your circuit exercises.
The Importance of Stretching
When you have completed your exercises, do not leave the gym before you have performed a full body stretch. Not only will stretching help prevent injuries but it will also allow your muscles to be the length and tone they should be and this will help maximise your results.
Weight selection is very important during a speed circuit and as you get further through the sets you may find you need to drop in weight. When choosing your weight you should select one that pushes you but allows you to perform the exercise with perfect technique. Never forfeit technique for weight, thinking that more weight is better. It never is and could result in an injury so choose wisely.
There is no quick fix and it does take hard work but this training technique has provided my clients with fast effective results and it is easy to come up with your own routines. If you are very unfit, injured, suffer from a heart related illness or heart related illnesses run in your family then please consult your doctor before you commence any training routine. If you are unsure about your fitness, be sensible and check with your doctor.