Circuit Movement for Doubling Results

By Diane Vives, MS, CSCS – March 1, 2013
Brian Fitzsimmons

Combining fat loss and performance for success
Bringing together dual purposes of fat loss and performance is challenging but can be accomplished by focusing on purposeful movement within the intensity of a circuit format. We are going to put movements together that have an individual purpose in improving performance for the 2013 AFM FITTEST competition and can also create a great challenging total body circuit when combined.

One common mistake when looking at weight loss is only doing long slow distance as your means of exercise. When you only use endurance activity (such as running) for general weight loss, the result is a drop on the scale due to losing both fat and your productive muscle. The problem with this is that your body will lose active, energy-consuming muscle if this is your only form of exercise, making it even more challenging to reduce fat and maintain an attractive physique. Even more importantly for long-term results, muscle is needed to perform good functional movements that allow you to do more work in less time as well as reduce the risk of injury. That is why cross-training and incorporating movements that emphasize motor control, strength, muscle hypertrophy, and strength endurance create huge payoffs in fat loss and maintaining your results over time.

With this information in mind, we’ve created the following circuit by incorporating four major categories in human movement and then choosing exercises in those categories that will benefit training for the tests in the 2013 AFM FITTEST competition.

Rear Lunge to Single Leg Stance

Purpose: Positively impacting performance in jumping and sprinting by targeting a lower body strength movement that emphasizes the ankle, knee, and hip extension.
1. Start in a single leg stance, holding weights in a front carry position.
2. While maintaining an upright torso, lunge backwards; the free leg will land in a hip-width split stance.
3. Press through the heel of the front foot to drive the front leg back into triple extension and a single leg stance.
4. Repeat on the same leg for desired number of reps or timed intervals.
Progression Tweak: If you are not able to balance and cleanly perform the repetitions, start with body weight until the movement is mastered.

Pull-Ups with Towel Grip

Purpose: Focusing on upper body strength to strengthen the dead hang pull-up movement. Another big benefit is that the use of a towel grip really enhances grip strength, which can also transfer to improved performance in the handgrip test.
1. Start by draping a towel either through the pull-up rings or over a secure pull-up bar. Using a claw grip on the towel, start with the arms fully extended in the low position of the pull-up.
2. Using your arms, shoulders, and upper back, pull your body vertically until your shoulders are fully extended and elbows are in line with your torso.
3. Be sure to keep your gaze forward, neck neutral (vertical), and torso upright with chest up. Avoid any caving in of the chest as this weakens the position and reinforces rounding of the shoulders.
Progression Tweak: If your grip or upper body becomes fatigued or you are unable to perform the pull-ups through full range of motion, check out the video online for the reclined row version to assist you in adjusting for progression.

Half-Kneeling Med Ball Chops

Purpose: Performing a counter movement of the shoulder with the opposite hip while in a half-kneeling position, which emphasizes static motor control surrounding the pelvis in order to maintain a neutral spine and core control, for improved running mechanics.
1. Place the right knee on a pad or towel while creating a straight line vertically with the right hip and shoulder. The left leg’s shin should be vertical and directly in front of the left hip, creating a narrow base (the narrower the base, the more your core stabilizers have to work).
2. With both hands, hold a light-weight medicine ball above and in front of the left shoulder. Then chop with arms extended diagonally until the ball is in front of right hip.
3. The goal is not to over rotate and lose position of the hips, so keep the ball in front of the body at all times.
4. Perform the chops in at a slow and controlled speed; once the motion is mastered, increase the speed for higher intensity. Note: Only go as fast as you can control while maintaining a stable lower body position.
Progression tweak: Allow your arms to bend during the movement, moving the ball as close to the body as possible while creating a direct path from over the shoulder, in front of your chest, and to the opposite hip. This decreases the lever arm and reduces the intensity. Remember to use a light-weight medicine ball for this movement.

Vertical Jump to Zigzag Hops

Purpose: Training the lower body power to enhance jumping ability as well as single leg agility. This movement also gives a boost in metabolic demands, which increases the intensity of the over-all conditioning workload of the circuit.
1. Start with either a ladder or a line over which you can perform a zigzag pattern. Stand at or on end of the ladder or designated path.
2. Perform five vertical jumps using a counter movement. This means start in tall standing position and drop quickly into an athletic position, bending the lower body and emphasizing loading the muscles around the hip. Without pause, extend the lower body to perform a vertical jump and reach with your arms directly overhead.
3. Using just your right leg, hop inside each box and outside each rung of the ladder to create a zigzag pattern moving forward for 5-10 hops; switch and come back using the same pattern on the left foot to return to the start position
Progression tweak: For lower intensity, use body weight squats and then two-footed low impact jumps through the zigzag pattern.

This circuit is an intermediate or advanced level in order to demonstrate how to challenge yourself with higher intensity circuits. If you are just beginning your training program or simply want to ensure you progressively work into the higher intensity, please look at the progression tweaks and refer to the helpful videos online. If you feel uncertain about the movements, please seek out a certified fitness professional who can help you succeed in your overall program.

Building strength and healthy muscle will no doubt enhance your success with fat loss and motivate you to reach your performance goals. See you at the 2013 AFM FITTEST!


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