You have 30 minutes for your workout. What should you do? Hit the gym and lift some weights or simple grab a pair of shoes to run. What if there is a workout that enables you to target your muscular fitness as well as your aerobic fitness?
If you are thinking of circuit training, you are right! Sorry, I am not talking about CrossFit. Anything involving a series of exercises done in succession are generally labeled as circuit-type of training, regardless of other names given to it in the industry currently. In this article, I shall focus on a circuit workout in the gym.
A sample of a circuit workout
1. Dumbbell goblet squats x 20
2. Barbell/dumbbell rows x 10
3. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift x 20
4. Dumbbell chest press x 10
5. Barbell/dumbbell overhead press x 10
6. Burpees x 20
- There are six exercises in this circuit which is a general full-body workout. These exercises are chosen as they require lesser set-up time and space in a gym which may be occupied with other users.
- Firstly, perform 20 jumping jacks to warm up the body. Go through a warm-up circuit with light weights and lesser reps before you stretch (if necessary). This will take 5-10 minutes.
- Start of workout. Perform the circuit AFAP with good form. The only rest time is the set-up time for the next exercise. Due to time constraints, aim to complete 2-3 circuits within 15-20 minutes depending on your ability. You are allowed to rest for 1-2 minutes in between circuits.
- Cool down and do some flexibility work for 5 minutes.
- The whole workout should take no more than 30 minutes including warm-up and cool down.
Note: The main characteristic of circuit training is to perform the exercises with the required reps in succession with minimum or no rest in between until all the exercises are completed. Choose a weight that you can perform the reps without struggling, but with considerable effort.
Conclusion: Circuit training using resistance exercises coupled with aerobic exercises such as burpees or skipping is an efficient and effective method to target your muscular and aerobic fitness in the gym. You can do this 2-3 times weekly and change the exercises and/or order accordingly.
Let’s say you want to work out during your one hour lunch break. You can only spend fifteen minutes on it and are limited to your workplace. You would want to do something short and yet effective enough for your health and fitness goals. The following is a sample of a workout plan that allows you to work out five times per week.
Sample workout plan
Mon/Wed/Fri – Cardio days
- Warm up by walking up and down a flight of stairs at an easy pace. Can do some stretching if necessary after that (5 mins).
- Start of workout. Run up and down the stairs as fast as possible (AFAP) for 8 mins.* There should not be any stopping for rest within the time allocated. Your rest time is the time taken for you to climb down the stairs before going up again.
- Cool down (2 mins).
* The pace should be set accordingly to your own ability. For beginners, you could start with a moderate pace (can speak but cannot sing). For advanced, the pace should be high intensity (barely able to speak).
Note: Preferably find a flight of stairs with at least 3 stories high which should be easily accessible by most office workers in Singapore.
Tues/Thurs – Strength training days
1. Squats x 10
2. Leg raise x 10
3. Push-ups x 10
4. Back extension x 10
- Perform these four exercises and required number of reps as a circuit.
- Warm-up by doing 20 jumping jacks, stretching and an easy circuit (e.g. lesser reps, slower pace) for 5 mins.
- Complete as many circuits as possible within 8 mins.
- Cool down for (2 mins).
Note: Find an area free of clutters in your office or nearby. You only need a small space (around 2m by 2m). Let your co-workers stare in envy while you sweat out the stress and fats.
Conclusion: Feel free to modify the sample workout plan accordingly such as having 3 sessions instead (2 cardio and 1 strength). Let me know if you have any questions or want specific plans to fit your needs.
Should men and women exercise differently? This question came across my mind when my female friend wants to know what kind of strength exercises would be suitable for women to perform. My answer to her in short was……the same as for men.
I shall elaborate further. I believe that the same exercise should be performed similiarly regardless of gender. I use push-up which is a bodyweight strength exercise as an example. There is no female or man’s version of a push-up. A standard push-up (knees off the floor) should be done in the same way between a guy and girl if they have the same ability etc. However, the type of push-up and its required form should be performed according to the individual’s ability, objective and/or body conditions; and not based merely on gender differences. Generally most women do the knee-assisted push-ups while most men perform the standard push-ups (knees off the floor). However, there are guys who can only do knee-assisted push-ups while some girls can perform standard push-ups or even tougher kinds just as well (think of Demi Moore in the movie “GI Jane”) through regular and serious training.
Conclusion: The same exercise should be done the same way unless you have some inhibiting conditions that don’t allow that such as a bad shoulder or elbow in the case of my push-up example. Everyone should try to use good form and choose appropriate exercises to suit their individual objective and ability.
There is abundant literature on the positive benefits of physical activity. However, research on the relationship between physical activity/fitness and different aspects of sexuality is limited. Research shows that there is a relationship between a physical active lifestyle and the individual’s sexual performance and satisfaction (Krucoff & Krucoff, 2000; Stanten & Yeager, 2003).
Sedentary men could greatly reduce their probability of having erectile dysfunction by being more active (Stanten & Yeager, 2003). Aspects of fitness such as endurance and body composition contributed to the improvement of sexual performance (Krucoff & Krucoff, 2000). A study was done by Bortz and Wallace (1999) on more than 500 physically active male and female participants with ages of 50 and above to examine the relationship between physical fitness, aging and sexuality. They reported that sexual satisfaction appeared to correlate with the level of fitness. They concluded that physical fitness and high levels of sexual activity are mutually supportive aspects of successful aging.
A more recent study done by Young and Penhollow (2004) examined the relationship of exercise frequency and self-reported fitness levels on perceived sexual desirability and sexual performance. Data was conducted through a questionnaire on 408 undergraduate students (71% females and 29% males). Results suggested that in spite of differences among different genders, generally those who exercised more frequently and had higher physical fitness level, had better perception of their sexual performance and desirability. The authors suggested that people who were relatively more fit and exercised frequently had a more positive self-perceived body image which may lead to increased confidence in their sexual performance and desirability. They were also healthier which may lead to an increased ability and willingness to be sexually active.
Conclusion: Having a physically active lifestyle not only improves your health and fitness, it can also improve your sex life. So if you want to improve your current sex life or seek to maintain it as you age, make sure you exercise frequently and stay in shape!
Bortz, W. M. 2nd, & Wallace, D. H. (1999). Physical fitness, aging, and sexuality. Western Journal of Medicine, 170, 167-175.
Krucoff, C., & Krucoff, M. (2000). Peak performance. American Fitness, 19, 32-36.
Stanten, N., & Yeager, S. (2003). Four workouts to improve your love life. Prevention, 55, 76-78.
Young, M., & Penhollow, T. (2004). Sexual desirability and sexual performance: does exercise and fitness really matter?. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 7.
All information presented on this site is meant for general purposes. It is not meant to replace health and medical advice from healthcare professionals.