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Take a Shortcut to Fitness With Circuit Training

Get strength and cardio benefits in 30 minutes a day

Is Circuit Training Enough? continued...

The Institute of Medicine recently recommended an hour of exercise a day.

"However," Bryant continues, "this [circuit] is often done by people who weren't exercising before." And he sees why many people are drawn to Curves in particular. "The environment is conducive to comfort -- there is no intimidation factor," he says. "You are not surrounded by so-called beautiful people and figure you're so far from the norm, why bother?"

Even if your circuit workouts include jogging intervals, Bryant recommends adding some brisk walking or other aerobic activity to your day. "Do things you enjoy!" he urges.

Circuit Training at Home

If driving to the gym (much less working out in front of God and everybody) is a deterrent, Westcott recommends setting up a modified circuit at home. This way, you can also tailor your circuit to your fitness level. Beginners, for example, might use 5-pound weights and move up as their strength improves.

Your home circuit could go like this:

  • 30 seconds of squats
  • 30 seconds on a stationary bike, or jogging in place or on a treadmill


  • 30 seconds of lunges (watch those knees!)
  • 30 seconds of cycling or jogging



  • 30 seconds of chest presses on a weight bench or sturdy table
  • 30 seconds of cycling or jogging



  • 30 seconds of bent-over rows on a weight bench or sturdy table
  • 30 seconds of cycling or jogging



  • 30 seconds of shoulder presses (push your arms straight overhead with palms facing out)
  • 30 seconds of cycling or jogging



  • 30 seconds of biceps curls
  • 30 seconds of cycling or jogging



  • Repeat the whole cycle at least three times.

And you don't even need to invest in weights, at least not at first. Bryant says you can fill gallon milk jugs with sand or water to make a weight.

The important thing, Bryant says, is to make an effort. "Exercise is cumulative. Each time you do it, the benefits add to the last," he says. "I say it's like loose change. It adds up."

And to make sure you keep at it, choose an activity that fits into your schedule -- and that you enjoy. For Magee, who has been going to Curves four to five times a week for almost a year, the circuit workout fits the bill.

"For now," she says, "I like it."

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Reviewed on June 22, 2005

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