How You Can Build The Ultimate Circuit Training Workout For Rapid Fat Loss

In the past, the cornerstone of most resistance training workouts has been performing exercises in a straight set format. Essentially, this means you perform a certain number of reps, then you rest anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes based on your training goals before repeating this set a certain number of times based on your goals. If you were looking for fat loss and lean muscle gain shorter rest periods were thought to be ideal. For more of a strength or power emphasis, longer rest periods were prescribed.

So, what’s the problem with this format?  Well, though straight sets are extremely easy to comprehend for people new to fitness, they can also be an extremely inefficient way to order your exercises. In most gyms you’ll typically see someone perform three sets of 10 reps for let’s say the bench press (You do know Every Monday is National Bench Press Day, Right?). They pump out 10 reps, go to the water fountain, talk with some buddies, watch a couple of highlights on ESPN, and then head back to the bench to hit up their second set. In general, most people, guys in particular, tend to take about 3-5 minutes between sets. In the case of three sets of 10 on the bench that means it would take up to 15 minutes to complete only one movement pattern (a horizontal push). That means you’d need at least in hour to perform four different exercises. If your goal is to win a bench press competition, you might choose to train this way. However if fat loss is your goal, there is a much better way!

A much more effective and time-efficient approach to ordering your exercises is utilizing the alternating set format. Here you’ll perform one exercise, rest for a short period of time, then perform another non-competing exercise, rest for a short period of time, and so forth. Alternating sets allow you to work different areas of your body when you would otherwise be resting with the straight set format. Plus, by working another area of your body with a non-competing exercise you allow your body to recover from the previous exercise(s). The result is improved training economy and density: more work accomplished in less time, which is the cornerstone of any sound fat loss program. Let’s look at a few ways to perform alternating sets:

  1. Supersets: Alternate between two different non-competing exercises (e.g. upper body and lower body such as push-ups and lunges)
  2. Tri-sets: Alternate between three different exercises (e.g. push, pull, and lower body such as push-ups, rows, and lunges)
  3. Circuits: Alternate between four or more different exercises

Though supersets and trisets are excellent alternating set options, I believe circuit training is by the far the best option time and time again. To demonstrate why, let’s examine my favorite circuit training template using timed set intervals:

The 50-10 Five Exercise Circuit: You will alternate between 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for all five exercises in the following 5-minute circuit:

  • Exercise#1- Squats
  • Exercise#2- Dips
  • Exercise#3- Single-Leg Hip Extensions
  • Exercise#4- Pull-ups
  • Exercise#5- Leg Raises

Perform this circuit up to four times for a 20-minute total body fat burning workout.

Basically, in the same 15 minutes that it took to get in three sets on the bench you could have gotten in three sets of five different exercise for a staggering total of 15 work sets! Plus, the intensity on each exercise can be just as high as in the straight set format because in this five exercise circuit you will have full recovery with over four minutes before you return to any given exercise (just as you did with the straight set format described earlier).

To recap, the key to creating the optimal hormonal environment for fat loss is to perform each exercise with maximal intensity while separated by brief rest periods in order to accumulate a high volume of total body work in the shortest amount of time possible. Circuit training provides for the best of both worlds and is thus simply unmatched for simultaneously maximizing fat loss and lean muscle gain. Use the following template I use with my many boot camp clients for some killer, yet simple fat loss circuits:

  • Exercise#1- Double-Leg
  • Exercise#2- Push
  • Exercise#3- Single-Leg
  • Exercise#4- Pull
  • Exercise#5- Core

I’ll be sharing some more great circuit training workouts from our boot camps in the weeks to come.

Fat Loss Forever,

Nancy Carlson

Go For The GOLD!

Summer is cruising on by…it’s crazy how fast time flies!

It’s August, and as you probably know, the Olympics in Beijing China start in just a few days.

Most of us are not heading to China.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have our own Olympic games.

Nancy has set up a challenge for us at our support site over at

Will you earn Gold, Silver or Bronze?

No matter which one you earn, you will be fitter than when you started, and that’s always a winner!

If you haven’t signed up for your fr*e account, you are missing out.

Nancy does a great job keeping the site fresh with great ideas, and our group has made friends all over the country that are also striving to look and feel great.

Head on over and Go for the Gold….today!

The Best Diet?

Our 5:00am Boot Camp Class got into a discussion this morning regarding a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study was designed to determine which type of three diets worked best. For purposes of this letter, the three types don’t even matter, as I’ll explain.

It was a good discussion, but when I thought about it afterward, I realized something was amiss.

Described as a “tightly controlled study” by the New York Times, the 322 participants lost an average of between 6-10 pounds.

Not too bad – right? I mean it must have been a 2 or 3 month time frame, right?

Try TWO YEARS on for size!

That’s .333 pounds a month.

That’s not so good. (In fact it’s downright lousy!)

To me the take home point is this –

It doesn’t matter how good the “diet plan” is –

If you don’t actually DO IT CONSISTENTLY!

I suspect many if not most of these participants were, how shall I put it? – less than truthful about their compliance to the diet.

I come to that conclusion based on experience.

You see, I have a philosophy regarding nutrition – principles that if applied produce the desired results.

If a client tells me it “doesn’t work”, 99 times out of 100, when we look at what he ACTUALLY does, it not the plan that isn’t working, it’s the client not working the plan.

(Note the “if applied” part above.)

So what do we do about it?

Here are 5 principles of nutrition that anyone CAN do.

The real question is – WILL you?

1) Track how much you are really eating. Log 2 weekdays and 1 weekend. is gold, and it’s no cost.

2) To lose weight, all other things being equal (your exercise plan for instance) – you need to eat less. Start with a 300-500 calorie reduction. Use to track it. Adjust every two weeks as needed.

3) Don’t eat food from a box, bag, wrapper or can. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and protein are the basis of a “good” nutrition plan.

4) Don’t make excuses. If you “fall off the wagon” and eat something you know doesn’t help, don’t turn it into a binge. That extra piece of cake DOES make a difference. Once in a while doesn’t mean once a day. Remember, making excuses only burns .02355 calories a day. (OK – I made that up)

5) Plan ahead. Pick a day when you can prepare ALL the meals for the week. If you are not willing to plan ahead, you aren’t serious about making the change.

Which is the most important?

In my opinion – #5.

If you don’t know what you are going to eat next, you’ll eat anything you can get your hands on.

I know, because I am right there with you.

But IF you combine these 5 tips consistently applied (i.e. EVERY DAY) with a good training plan (consistently applied) you will start to achieve the results you want.

As we like to say in Boot Camp – It’s Simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s Easy.

Nothing worthwhile ever is.

To your best health,


8 inches in 16 workouts!

That’s what one of our June “Get Fit NH” Bootcamp participants experienced.

I saw her last weekend, and she couldn’t wait to tell me!

After 1 month – 16 one-hour training sessions, her total body measurements were down eight inches!

She was thrilled, and it won’t be the last time she will see that kind of progress.

You see, she had been training for quite awhile without seeing progress she was happy with.

One month at Boot Camp changed all that.

What makes our fitness bootcamp a solution that can work for “Every Body”?

A comprehensive system of:

  • Fitness Testing
  • Exercise Instruction
  • Resistance Training
  • Abdominal & Core Work
  • Partner and Team Activities
  • Cardiovascular Exercise
  • Flexibility Training
  • Motivation through Team Building and Accountability
  • and A New Challenge…Every Day!

It’s time to get off the sidelines and into the game.

Nothing will change unless you change what you’re doing.

July classes are going strong.

August classes are starting to fill.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Register for “Get Fit NH” Boot Camp Online Here.

Let’s Get Our Kids On Drugs?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new guidelines on cholesterol and fat intake for our kids. I think these guidelines are a sad commentary not only on the state of our kids health, but on the way we approach disease. 

We don’t have a health care system in this country, we have a sick care system. We are way more about “fixing” the problem, or maybe more accurately, treating the symptoms, than we are about education and prevention. 

What’s easier – giving someone a pill, or taking the time to educate them on making good choices to improve and maintain health? I am not necessarily blaming all medical professionals. Because of the way the current system works too many of our health care providers do not have the time necessary to spend on such educational efforts. Ways to fix this challenge is a discussion for another day.   

The thing that disturbs me most about the new guidlines is the focus on prescribing cholesterol lowering drugs to kids as young as 8 years old. The guidelines from 1992 suggested that drugs be prescribed AFTER 6-12 months on a nutritional protocol designed to lower cholesterol. As far as I can tell, this has been thrown out the window in favor of a more immediate call for drugs.

Now proponents will tell us that this is only in “high risk” kids, but we have been down that slipperly slope with a wide array of drugs for both adults and children.  I have also seen it stated that these drugs are needed because over 15% of our children are obese, with many more overweight. That may be, but is prescribing drugs treating the symptom – obesity, or the cause – poor nutrition? I think the answer is obvious.

We are in a health care crisis in this country not because of the quality of the system, but because we have become sedentary and undernourished. Not under-FED, but undernourished. With the US population now approximately 66% overweight, we have a real problem, and it’s only getting worse.

Children need activity and exercise, not TV and Xbox.

Kids need fruits and vegetables, not soda and snack cakes.

It starts at home. We must take personal responsibility for our own health and the health of our kids. Don’t feed them junk, and don’t let them vegitate in front of the idiot box. And keep your kids off drugs – even the “good” kind.

Nancy has done a great job over at putting together real world tips and recipes to help the cause. Do yourself and your kids a favor and check it out.

For more information on kids and cholesterol lowering drugs, please take time to read this interview Newsweek magazine did with Dr. Peter Belamarich:

May 2008 Get Fit NH Boot Camp Was Awesome!

Our May 2008 Get Fit NH Boot Camp Class was a tremendous success! We had men and women from ages 20-49 training together for four weeks – a total of 16 sessions. The phenomenal results are shown in the chart below.

To summarize – The Average Boot Camp Member:

Could do 18 more pushups – an increase of 115%…

Did 12 more situps – an increase of over 59%…

Got down and did 11 more squats – 32% more…

Almost doubled the amount of burpees, from 8 to 15 – a 97% increase…

And shaved 18 seconds off their 1/4 mile run…Way To Go!

May 2008 Boot Camp Results

Our June Classes are starting soon…

When are YOU going to join a Get Fit NH Boot Camp?

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