Adjusting Circuit Training To Build Muscle
If you’re looking to build some lean muscle mass, you may be gravitating towards the most common ‘bodybuilding’ type of programs.
You split your training up into a legs day, a chest day, a back day, and a shoulders day, possibly even dedicating a whole day to training arms as well.
Each muscle gets three to four different exercises and each exercise three to four sets total.
You figure the high volume, specialised route is the best way to go to see optimal mass gains.
Circuit training, on the other hand, you figure is best left to those seeking fat loss.
But is circuit training really that limited?
Let’s go over a few points to know about circuit training for mass gain.
If you set the program up properly, you can see results with this style of training as well.
The first thing you’ll want to consider is the nature of the exercises you’re doing.
Classical circuit training programs tend to rely more on isolation exercises coupled with cardio-based exercises.
You might do bicep curls, lateral raises, burpees, mountain climbers, crunches, and the like.
To build muscle though, you need those compound lifts – squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, shoulder press, and push-ups or a bench press.
Remember, there’s nothing to say you can’t include these in your workout protocol.
You can still do them circuit style, you’ll just move from one exercise to the next rather than performing all your reps for a single exercise at once.
In many ways, this can provide great benefit because by the time you return back to a given exercise, you’ll be more rested thanks to the time spent resting while doing other exercises.
This then means you can optimise your strength development for all the muscles you work.
Taking Into Account Weight Lifted
Next, you’ll also want to think about the amount of weight you’re lifting.
Here again, typical circuit style workouts have you lifting in the 10-15 rep range, sometimes even more.
To build muscle, you need to lower that. Aim for the 6-10 rep range and focus on lifting heavy while doing so.
That will give you the strength and mass gains you’re after.
While you can take the reps higher from time to time, the vast majority of your sessions should be in this rep range.
Re-Assessing The Rest Periods
Also consider rethinking your rest periods. How much rest do you plan to take between exercises?
While it’s common for circuit style of workouts to not allow much of any rest until the entire circuit is completed, realise that you don’t have to do it that way.
It’s perfectly permissible to add 30 or even 60 seconds of rest after an exercise before moving onto the next and still have it be a circuit style workout.
Learn what works best for you and then use that to help push you forward.
Getting The Best Of Both Worlds
Finally, you might consider getting the best of both worlds.
For optimal muscle growth, it is good to have some lower rep, heavy lifting sessions in place along with the odd higher rep, high volume plan.
This could then mean mixing your classical ‘bodybuilding’ style of training with one or two full body circuit workouts per week.
If you have a good recovery capacity to do this, you may just find it kicks your progress into overdrive.
So don’t be so fast to overlook circuit training as a way to build muscle mass.
When used properly, it can be a very effective approach to your workout goals.