How to Build Muscle and Lose Weight with the Same Workout
Time or the lack of it is an excuse that most people offer for not exercising or not exercising consistently. Maybe you feel that you don’t have enough time, so you decide to skip it. Now, here’s some good news:
- You don’t need a lot of time for an effective workout
- Circuit training could help you build muscle and lose weight with the same workout
Circuit strength training
When it comes to finding enough time to exercise, circuit training, specifically circuit strength training with weight machines, is the optimal solution for a workout. This could help you to build muscle while burning calories for weight loss.
The human body burns about five calories of energy to consume one liter of oxygen. Muscles use oxygen to produce the energy to contract. Workouts that use more muscles will naturally require more oxygen, resulting in more calories being burned even as they become stronger.
Machine-based circuit training is easy to do. It is, in fact, so effective that most health clubs arrange their machines in a circuit for members to follow. Yet, not many take advantage of this easy-to-access-and-follow workout program. A strength training circuit on machines should take less than 20 minutes, including warm-up.
Benefits of circuit strength training
1. Weight loss, improved muscle definition, enhanced cardiorespiratory efficiency, reduced stress, and better overall health are all benefits of strength training. According to the existing guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), healthy adults should participate in resistance training at least two or three (non-consecutive) days per week, and perform 8-12 reps of 8-10 separate exercises for the large muscle groups in the body. Most fitness facilities organize their machines in a circuit. So, the next time you’re at your facility, ask them to show you how to use the circuit, so you can have these benefits, too.
2. Most fitness facilities position their strength training machine circuit in a different location than the free weight area, to make it more accessible. Most machines are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, and have easy-to-follow directions on them. It is much easier to learn how to use strength training machines than to perform many free weight exercises, and is safer, too.
3. Circuit training on strength machines elevates the heart rate, making it an effective form of cardio exercise for burning calories. Minimal rest between machines means that muscles will be consuming more oxygen and your heart rate will stay elevated. The result? You’d be improving your cardiorespiratory fitness and becoming stronger at the same time.
4. For best results, warm-up by walking for five to seven minutes at a relatively brisk pace, so your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes quicker. Once you start sweating from exercise, that is an indication that your body is ready for more challenging activity, and it’s time to go to the machines and complete the circuit.
5. Do more exercise in less time by doing sets within specific time periods. Set your watch or mobile phone timer for 25 seconds and try to do as many reps as possible in that time before switching machines Once you have used all the machines in the circuit, rest for 90 seconds, and do a second circuit. Start with two circuits of 25 seconds per exercise. Increase by five seconds every two weeks. Once you get to 45 seconds, add a third circuit, and go back to 25 seconds per exercise.
6. For best results use a weight that causes fatigue by the end of the set. Working to fatigue means that you will be burning more calories, and additionally, using all the carbohydrates stored in the muscle. When carbohydrates are stored in muscle cells as glycogen, they hold on to water molecules. One gram of glycogen holds approximately 3gm-4gm of water (this is what makes you sweat when you exercise; as glycogen is used, it releases the water, which becomes sweat). Muscle growth can occur as the result of muscle cells replacing carbohydrates (along with the attached water molecules) during the recovery phase after the workout.
7. Increase the amount of calories you burn per workout by adding five minutes of cardio between circuits. Complete a circuit on the machines, then walk at a brisk pace on a treadmill, or ride a stationary bike for five minutes before performing the next strength circuit. Keeping the muscles working on the strength machines and cardio equipment will maximize oxygen consumption for optimal calorie burning.
8. Start with what you can do and progress from there. To meet the ACSM guidelines and get the most benefits from circuit strength training, set an initial goal of completing two workouts during the week and one on the weekend. Once that becomes a regular habit and you start feeling (and your friends start seeing) the benefits, it will be easier to find the time to do more workouts.
A workout does not need to be complicated to be effective. In fact, when starting out, it’s a good idea to keep the workout simple and focus on making exercise a habit. Circuit training on machines can help elevate your heart rate and burn calories at the same time, so your muscles become stronger as well as larger. Consult experts and use machines that are designed for easy use and quick results.
1. Singh MF, Hackett D, Schoenfeld B, et al. ACSM Guidelines for Strength Training. ACSM. 2019; published online Jul 31. https://www.acsm.org/blog-detail/acsm-certified-blog/2019/07/31/acsm-guidelines-for-strength-training-featured-download (accessed Apr 8, 2021).