When it comes to fat loss, there is a pecking order of exercise effectiveness, according to a growing body of research. At one point, all of us were certain that doing steady-state aerobic work between 65 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate would melt pounds mercilessly. Of course, we all learned that this type of cardio was mind numbing, and even your current playlist couldn't speed up perceived time on the treadmill, the stepper, the rower or any other piece of cardio equipment.
But with the improved ability of researchers to measure fat loss more precisely, what we believed about fat loss and cardio has changed. Sure, steady-state cardio done in a particular zone will help you drop pounds, but we now know that cardio intervals do it more efficiently, often in less time. And recently, as it turns out, research shows that resistance training, especially circuits, is on par with cardio intervals. Of course, the additional benefit of resistance training is that it adds muscle, which itself can elevate your resting metabolic rate. But the latest research highlights the increasing link between lifting weights and fat loss - new research shows you can burn fat for 16 hours after you've finished resistance training.
Getting your sweat on through fast running or cycling may feel like you're burning more calories, but according to a study from the University of Southern Maine, half an hour of a weight-training circuit burns just as much fat as running at 10 miles per hour for an identical period of time. Our best advice is to do both. Do your cardio workout, preferably intervals, and hit the iron and see results faster.
Oxygen's Beach Body Circuit relies on a few basic protocols and techniques that have been combined in a special way to deliver the most muscle-building and fat-burning impact in a relatively quick period of time. Like most full-body circuits, the exercises generally shift between lower- and upper-body exercises in a specific sequence that hits most of your major muscle groups during the course of a workout.
Shifting between large body parts allows one part to recover as you train the other, an important benefit for getting the most from a workout. Each segment of the circuit, for example, starts with a multi-joint lower body exercise, after which you generally move to a multi-joint upper body exercise. (You'll notice that the exception to this occurs in the final section of the circuit, when you move from a stiff-legged deadlift to a cross-bench pullover - but even this minor modification allows your non-working muscles to recover as you continue to work out.)
The other unique aspect to this circuit is the use of what is called push/pull training, one of the most basic resistance-training protocols. When you pull, you focus on back and biceps exercises, and when you push, you focus on chest, shoulders and triceps moves. A look at the workout reveals that your sequence follows a pull/push/pull strategy (each segment of which is always preceded by a lower-body exercise), and by the time you've completed it, you'll have trained your thighs, adductors, hamstrings, calves, lower back, upper back, biceps, chest, shoulders and triceps.
As a side note, we have kept the rep range within the region that has been found to be best for building muscle - between eight and 12. If at any time you want to increase the fat-burning effect or further improve endurance, you can increase the reps up to 15 for any set. But keep in mind that your goal is to get through three complete circuits of the workout.