New research supporting High Intensity Circuit Training (HICT)

We’ve all been there. Work is crazy. Family is in town. You are traveling. The kids are sick. Life happens and we realize we can’t control everything. We all have the same amount of time in a day, but it doesn’t always feel like we do. Unfortunately, it seems like our fitness goals are the first thing we sacrifice. No time time to get to the gym and get a “good” workout in, so why go? This new research shows how you can get a great workout in, at nearly any location, in 15 minutes. No equipment necessary.

A study done by American Council of Sports Medicine has shown that body weight High intensity circuit training can be incredibly beneficial. Not only was the study done using body weight exercises (read, things you can do ANYWHERE) but it also is very time efficient. Taking between 15-30 minutes, test subjects  would  perform a series of 9-12 exercises (shown at the end of this post) for 30 seconds at a time with as little rest in between exercises as possible (<30 seconds) and repeat the circuit 2-3 times. It is also important to note that they would alternate between muscle groups  every exercise, so you could get a small amount of recovery in without actually resting. The results were, not surprisingly, incredible.

In brief, HICT seems to be an efficient means of exercise to help decrease body fat, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve V˙O2max and muscular fitness. These types of programs can be a great option to help busy individuals improve their health and recover from stress via exercise.

The practicality and accessibility of HICT using body weight as resistance makes this exercise program a great option for many people. Individuals who previously believed that they did not have the time for exercise can now trade total exercise time for total exercise effort and get similar or better health and fitness benefits.

There are a few caveats, of course, but they are quite minor. The first one has to do with sport specific training. Obviously, if you are trying to improve your performance for a certain sport, this type of training might not give you the best benefits for that sport. It would still be better than no training, however.
The other potential issue has to do with people who are untrained, overweight/obese,  have heart issues, or other health concerns. Because the nature of the program is high intensity with little to no rest, it might be better to wait until the individual is in a bit better shape, or has been approved by their doctor, to undertake such vigorous exercise.

So what does this mean for you and me? Well, no more excuses! We have known for a while that SOME exercise is better than none, but this new study shows that even small amounts of exercise, with high enough intensity, can be a very good option for staying on track with your fitness goals.

  1. Jumping jacks Total body
  2. Wall sit Lower body
  3. Push-up Upper body
  4. Abdominal crunch Core
  5. Step-up onto chair Total body
  6. Squat Lower body
  7. Triceps dip on chair Upper body
  8. Plank Core
  9. High knees/running in place Total body
  10. Lunge Lower body
  11. Push-up and rotation Upper body
  12. Side plank Core