Metabolic circuits are key. So key in fact, that they unlock the door that leads to the portal that transports you to lean-kingdom, where you are crowned king-lean!
A metabolic circuit is a series of exercises put in sequence with the intention of increasing your heart rate, get your muscles pumping, and get you to breath heavily, all the while making you one lean-machine.
You can think of metabolic circuits as a form of conditioning (read: cardio) that uses your body weight, kettlebells, a barbell, dumbbells, medicine ball, or any other training tool to move your booty.
In a nutshell metabolic circuits can be considered controlled mayhem. Go crazy with them! But the controlled kind of crazy.
It isn’t too much of a challenge to throw together a few exercises that will 1) Beat the hell out of you, and 2) Do it quickly. What is a challenge is putting together a sequence that flows well, and addresses every part of the body without taking away from another.
How To Create Controlled Mayhem:
Start your metabolic circuit with an explosive exercise to get the heart pumping.
The real reason why explosive Olympic-type lifts are placed first, is to ensure that the most technical lift is done with all of your energy focusing on proper technique and execution. When fatigue sets in, as it inevitably will, the first thing to go will be the quality of your reps.
Sample Olympic lifts: Clean, Snatch, Pushpress, or any variation/combination of those 3.
(ALWAYS)n+1= Quality > Quantity
Secondly, you can throw in a compound (multi-joint) lower body exercise.
Since they’re the toughest to execute behind explosive lifts, a great place to put them would be at the start of a metabolic circuit.
Sample lower body compound exercise: Squat, Deadlift, Lunge, and any single leg variety of the 3.
Choose a Direction
After your lower body exercise you can pretty much take it in any direction you’d like.
“Self, what is my goal in this metabolic circuit?”
Do you want to get a muscle pump while working towards getting leaner?
Would you like to gear it towards a certain body part? OR quite simply put, incinerate fat and just do work?
Below I’ve outlined 5 metabolic circuits that will challenge you and make you all kinds of tired in different places. Get your mind out of the gutter, not like that, once you try them you’ll know what I mean.
Maybe if you work hard enough you can burn fat as well as the snow outside!? – Let’s get goin’
- Barbell Hang Clean x5-8
- Barbell Front Squat to Shoulder Press x5-10
- Pullup x5-10
- Barbell Reverse Lunge x5-8ea
- Barbell Bent Over Row x5-10
- Plyo Pushup or Regular Pushup x5-10
- Straight Leg Situp x 10
*NOTE: The toughest exercise will determine the weight chosen for the circuit. For example, the Barbell complex will use the bent over row to indicate the weight chosen for the entire circuit.
Bodyweight 100 Metabolic Circuit
- Pullup x 10
- Pushup x 20
- Jump Squat x 10
- Bodyweight Squat x 20
- TRX Row (or inverted barbell row) x 10
- Alternating forward lunge x10 ea
- Plank Row x 5ea
- Barbell Deadlift x5
- DB BenchPress x5
- Plyo Pushup x10
- TRX Row x10
- Med Ball Slam x10
- DB Curl+Press x 5
- TRX fall-outs x 10
- Tredmill sprint x 20 seconds
Kettlebell (KB) Complex
- KB swing x 10
- KB Goblet squat x10
- KB 1 Leg SLDL (Straight Leg Deadlift) x5ea
- KB Bent over Row x 10
- KB Shoulder Press x 5ea
- KB Farmer Carry x ~25 yards each hand
Bodyweight, Medball, TRX & weight complex
- Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat (with a Dumbbell held Goblet style) x 5 ea
- Lateral Bound (Bodyweight) x 10ea
- Bent over Dumbbell Row x 5ea
- Med. Ball Slam to Chest Pass x10
- Dumbbell Curl + Press x 8
- TRX Bodysaw x 10
- TRX Tricep Extension x 8
- Sled Drive/Treadmill sprint x ~25 yards/20-30 seconds
The coolest part about the sample circuits above is that nothing of what I wrote is set in stone. – If you want to add in some sprints, go ahead!
Feel free to decrease or even increase the rep range by a few. By keeping the reps around 6-10, you can ensure your technique doesn’t break down too quickly and you don’t get too bored of what you’re doing. Regardless of the reps chosen, that wont be a problem I assure you.
Remember though, the main idea here is to go from one exercise to the next with no rest and to be able to complete the desired reps. If you fall shy, take some weight off cowboy.
Want to add in some extra arm work? DO IT!
Are you uncertain of how to properly perform Olympic lifts? – Don’t do them.
You could do any other explosive total body exercise in its place. Burpees, Jump squats, Split Squat Jumps, 1 Leg Hop’s or anything of the plyometric variety work wonders here.
What about going a bit harder on the legs, can I do that?
I personally front load the complexes with leg-type exercise since they get you more tired quicker and get rid of the ‘suck’ a lot faster than if they were at the tail-end.
The end of the metabolic circuits are usually reserved for accessory (read: bicep, tricep, shoulder, etc.), core, and sprints/sled running.
The reason they’re placed towards the end of the circuit is that you can concentrate on the technique-oriented lifting part first, and then the mindless grinding exercises when you become mindless, and can no longer control the quiver in your legs.
When the circuit is all said and done, before the next round, set, circuit, whatever you like to call it, stretch your hip flexors and/or chest. Everyone can use a bit of extra stretching in these regions. Including you.
You’re doing a workout like this to save time, so stretch what’s tight while your catching your breath.
For your viewing pleasure i’ve attached some videos of my friends working through a circuit. Notice here that there’s a method behind the exercises selected and order.