Rules to Building a Perfect Circuit
When building a metabolic circuit, a trainer must take into consideration each of the following when building a proper circuit for each client, in order to serve them as best as possible.
If using external weight in the workouts, the trainer must carefully consider how much load is being utilized and ensure that the client is able to lift the load comfortably while using proper form.
Think about the weight load that they can use on the weakest lift they are performing. That is the load they should be used for all the exercises they are doing in the circuit.
Remember, they typically won’t be stopping to change loads midway through the circuit, so they will be using the same load throughout.
This is especially important for complex circuits where their attention will need to be at an all-time high level. If the load is too challenging, they will be hard-pressed to focus on anything but getting that load up.
Think about which movements are the weakest for the client and make sure they are placed as early in the circuit as possible. In this way, the client will do them while fresh and be able to execute them in the best possible manner.
This might be an entire exercise that is their ‘weakest link’ or it may just be a lagging muscle group or weak movement pattern they have.
Highly Skilled Movements
Consider which movements the client may be doing that requires a great deal of skill and coordination. For example, Olympic lifts are often very demanding in terms of the attention needed to be given to the client while they are being performed. As such, they should be placed early into the workout session as well. The client should be fresh when performing these movements.
Think about which exercises require the greatest level of coordination and motor control. Those are usually the most complex movements that will need to go first.
Speed and Power Movements
If adding speed and power-based movements to the workout routine, these will need to go towards the beginning of the circuit when the client is feeling their best and can exert maximum effort.
As soon as muscle fibers become fatigued, and more importantly, the CNS starts to tire, muscle fibers and motor units will not fire as quickly. This results in a degradation of speed and power. If this is the main area that the client wants to improve upon, and unless these moves are first, it’s likely they won’t see the improvement hoped for.
Examples of speed and power-based movements include plyometrics, push-ups, squat jumps, burpees, and so forth.
Alternately, do consider the client being trained. If the client is an athlete who needs to be able to perform these speed and power-based exercises when they are in a fatigued state for their sport, then the trainer may want to place them at the end for the sport specificity.
Always remember, everything needs to be adapted and unique to the situation.
When evaluating the circuit which has been built, make sure to also review the overall exercise flow as well. Have the exercises been placed in a sequence that allows them to move smoothly from one exercise to the next? Or, is the client going to find that they feel slightly ‘off’ during the transition phases, as they awkwardly move from one move to the next?
The smoother one can make those transitions, the better.
Exercise Selection and Order
The exercise order and selection used to create workouts are virtually limitless. The only limitation to consider is related to the actual individual’s skill level, pain tolerance, and exercise recall. If working with beginners who are just learning new exercises, chances are they would not be able to remember eight new exercises all in order. Therefore, using a four-exercise circuit is likely to be more successful.
If adding rest periods into the workout between exercises, however, this could be the time to remind them of the exercise they are to do next. This is one way to overcome this issue.
A trainer who is sure to keep all of these points in mind as they go about their exercise prescription and programming can be sure that they are building a workout that will treat their clients well.
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