Many men and women face high demands from their jobs and personal lives leaving limited time and energy to incorporate physical activity. Consistent aerobic and strength training is known to help people through increasing energy levels and preventing fatigue so those individuals can have more energy for the things that really matter to them: family, friends, wellness, and success in their careers. However, time is often a major factor in preventing adults from reaching the 150 minutes a week of cardiovascular training and 2-3 days a week of strength training recommended.
High-Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) is an efficient training technique combining strength and cardiovascular training into one quick workout. Using body weight for resistance training further eliminates the time constraints of traveling to a gym or accessing weights for the trainings session. HICT training provides many of the same health benefits of traditional cardiovascular and strength training without the time.
Health Benefits of HICT
- HICT is a quick training method to lose weight.Resistance exercises using large muscle groups with little rest in between elicits increase metabolic benefits for up to 72 hours and improves aerobic functioning.
- HICT can help reduce body fat. Researchers believe there may actually be a greater impact on subcutaneous fat loss with HICT than with traditional aerobic, steady state exercise.
- HICT improves cardiopulmonary health. Several studies have proven HICT results in similar or greater gains in VO2 max.
- HICT helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Exercising at near max or max heart rates can improve insulin resistance and decrease the development of type 2 diabetes.
How to Design an Effective HICT Program
- Use HICT with caution if the participant is overweight, recent or current injury, elderly, or has several chronic conditions.
- Assure all participants are using the correct technique and form to prevent injury.
- Choose exercises that involve all major muscle groups, use larger muscle groups to increase heart rate when desired, are a balance of all muscle groups, can be modified or adapted for participants, are safe and appropriate, and the participant can easily transition.
- Organize exercises in manner that allows muscles to alternate between rest and work. For example, if completing a lunge follow this with an upper body exercise like tricep dips. This allows the legs to recover while the arms are working and vice versa. Similarly, if incorporating cardiovascular exercises, proceed them with lower intensity exercises to allow the heart rate to recover.
- Choose between 9 & 12 exercises with at least 30 seconds of work followed by 15- 30 seconds of recovery. To determine the time for the working interval consider that each exercise should be completed properly for 15-20 repetitions. The rest time should be no more than 30 seconds to benefit from HICT style training.
- A total of at least 20 minutes of HICT is recommended to meet the guidelines and improve fitness. Repeating the circuit 2-4 times may be necessary to achieve this minimum.
HICT Sample Program
The following program was designed by the authors, Kilka & Jordan (2013) of the article summarized. Exercise working bout: 30 seconds. Recovery: 10 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
- Jumping Jack
- Wall Sit
- Abdominal Crunch
- Step-Up onto Chair
- Tricep Dip on Chair
- High Knees/ Running in Place
- Pushup & Rotation
- Side Plank
To view the entire research article click here.
Additional HICT Programs
The following are a few HICT style programs designed by Sandy Bum Fit.
With limited time and resources, fitting exercise into your daily routine can be very difficult. This post focuses on 3 different HICT style workouts you can do from home or on the go.
Resistance bands are a light weight and small exercise tool with limitless options for strength training the entire body. Multiple training suggestions are provided and incorporate the HICT principles discussed in the article.