Circuit Training Workouts to Stimulate Fat Loss & Preserve Muscle

When you're looking to maximize fat loss and increase muscle tone & definition, full-body circuit training workouts will be very beneficial for time efficiency and burning the highest amount of calories.

A reduced calorie intake will make it somewhat more challenging to complete a traditional high volume weight training workout, especially with heavy loads. Therefore, overall volume has to be limited when cutting calories, and the loads should be fairly moderate.

With circuit training workouts, you'll be training the whole body in each workout with fewer sets per muscle group, approximately 3x a week with a day of rest between each workout. Take into account any intense cardio activities that you're doing on non-lifting days, as this can impact the intensity & frequency of your weight training.

Here are 2 full-body workouts that resemble a circuit training style, allowing you to stimulate fat loss and manage the low energy from a reduced calorie diet. Both of them do not take up a lot of time in the gym, so if you're pressed for time, these will be quite useful.

1) Low Volume Compound Workout

If your goal is to preserve strength and muscle mass during a cutting cycle, the following workout will allow you to maintain especially during a lower carbohydrate diet.

When consuming lower carbs, you may want to avoid depleting glycogen from your muscles in order to maintain decent muscle volume and "pump". Of course, low carbs will leave your muscles feeling a bit flat so using a lower workout volume(sets & reps) won't exhaust them too much.

By using lower rep ranges and moderately heavy loads, you should be able to preserve most of your strength and lean muscle, even while cutting calories dramatically. Perform each of the following workouts atleast once a week, about 2-3 days apart:

Low Volume Workout 1:

        Squats: 2 sets of 5-6 reps
        Bench Press: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Rows: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Upright Rows: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Ab Bicycles: 2 sets of 8-10 reps

Low Volume Workout 2:

        Deadlifts: 2 sets of 5-6 reps
        Incline Press: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Lat Pulldown: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 6-8 reps
        Calf Raises: 2 sets of 8-10 reps
        Supermans: 2 sets of 8-10 reps

You have the option of performing each workout in a circuit training style, where you run through 1 set of each exercise consecutively without any rest, before moving on to the 2nd set in the same fashion. This would constitute 2 "circuits".

By doing each workout once a week, that would make a total of 2 workouts a week, which should be sufficient in preserving lean body mass and strength.

2) Glycogen Depleting Workout

In some cases, you may want to actually deplete the glycogen from your muscles so you can really boost fat burning enzymes and maximize fat loss.

This approach would be effective if you're not necessarily aiming for lower carbs. Keep in mind, however, that lower calories are still necessary to lose a significant amount of fat.

After these workouts, eating high carbohydrate meals will "fill" up your muscles and most likely be prevented from being stored as fat. Once again, keep in mind that if your overall caloric intake is TOO excessive, you run the risk of gaining fat.

You'll need to choose an appropriate weight for the higher rep ranges, while minimizing your rest between each exercise to keep the heart rate elevated.

Glycogen Depleting Circuit Workout:

            Leg Press: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Bench Press: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Seated Rows: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Lunges: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Chest Flies: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Lat Pulldown: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Lateral Raises: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Calf Raises: 1 set of 15-20 reps
            Bicep Curls: 1 set of 12-15 reps
            Rope Pushdowns: 1 set of 15-20 reps
            Hanging Leg Raises: 1 set of 15-20 reps

Completing all of the exercises consecutively without taking a break would be one circuit. You can do anywhere from 2-3 circuits depeding on how much energy you have from the reduced calorie intake.