Integrated Circuit Training for Fitness and Fat Loss

Integrated Circuit Training


Working out can be very time-consuming. That’s especially true if you are pursuing several different training goals at the same time, such as increasing your cardiovascular fitness while building muscle and losing fat.

If you’ve got multiple goals, you’ll probably need to do several different types of training each week. For example, you might alternate cardio with strength workouts.

Needless to say, such an approach can be very time-consuming.

Some people are lucky enough to have plenty of time to work out. Others are not so fortunate, and hitting the gym for an hour or so six times a week is simply impossible.

Despite their best intentions, a lot of exercisers end up missing more workouts than they complete, which will significantly undermine any progress.

The good news is that there is a way to develop multiple fitness components at the same time – integrated circuit training. Integrated circuit training combines several exercise elements to provide a more time-efficient workout.

In this article, we explain why and how to do integrated circuit training and provide you with some example workouts to try.

What is Integrated Circuit Training?

Athlete Doing Push Ups

Integrated circuit training, or ICT for short, is a high-intensity workout that combines cardio intervals with resistance training. ICT workouts are brief but challenging and can be modified for all fitness levels.

ICT workouts will:

  • Improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness
  • Burn calories and fat
  • Improve muscular endurance
  • Build muscle
  • Increase work capacity
  • Save time

The concept of ICT is pretty simple. Workouts are divided into rounds, and each round starts with a high-intensity sprint. After the sprint, you immediately do a series of strength training exercises before taking short rest. This sequence is then repeated several more times.

Each round should take 2-4 minutes to complete, so an entire ICT workout should be over and done in 20-30 minutes.

For example:

  1. Treadmill sprint – 30 seconds
  2. Push-ups x 15
  3. Pull-ups x 10
  4. Goblet squats x 20
  5. Rest 1-2 minutes and repeat three more times

For best results, transitions between exercises should be as short as possible. The exercises themselves should be compound in nature. Compound exercises train multiple muscles simultaneously to maintain your elevated heart rate and make the best use of your time.

In terms of exercise order, it’s best to avoid doing similar exercises back to back, such as push-ups followed by shoulder presses. Residual fatigue will make the second exercise harder and limit your performance of that movement. Instead, it’s better to use dissimilar exercises, e.g., push, pull, legs.

The number of post-sprint exercises depends on your fitness. Beginners should limit themselves to relatively low reps of just 2-3 exercises, whereas more experienced exercisers should do 4-6 movements for higher reps.

ICT is easy to modify according to your fitness level and the equipment you have available. You can even do ICT without equipment and using just your body weight.

Regardless of how you use this flexible and effective training system, it can help you develop a high fitness level in double-quick time, making it ideal for time-pressed exercisers.

Related: The 12 Best Assault Bike Workouts

Integrated Circuit Training Workouts

Integrated circuit training is fairly straightforward, so you should have no problem creating your own ICT workouts. But to save you the trouble, here are EIGHT of our favorite ICT workouts.

Do them as they are written, or feel free to modify them according to your current level of fitness and the equipment you have available.

But, before you do any of these workouts, spend a few minutes warming up and preparing your muscles and joints for what you’re about to do. Begin with five minutes of easy cardio followed by dynamic flexibility and mobility exercises for your major joints.

ICT Workout #1 – Bodyweight Only

Lunges

This workout is ideal for those times that you need a workout but can’t make it to the gym. All you need is some space to sprint. Alternatively, you can run up and down a flight of stairs a few times.

  1. Sprint 30 seconds
  2. Push-ups x 10
  3. Alternating lunges x 10 per leg
  4. Janda sit-ups x 10
  5. Squat jumps x 10
  6. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #2 – Bike and Barbell Workout

Bodybuilder Doing Bench Press

Using an air bike or regular stationary bike, this low-impact workout will build fitness and muscle size while shredding fat.

  1. Standing sprint 30 seconds
  2. Zercher squats x 8
  3. Bench press x 8
  4. Pull-ups x 8
  5. Push-press x 8
  6. Bent over row x 8
  7. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #3 – Super-short ICT Workout

This workout is ideal for home exercisers who only have a few minutes to train. Even with your warm-up, you should be finished in 20 minutes or less.

  1. Jump rope high-knee sprint 40 seconds
  2. Hand-release push-ups x 15
  3. Squat jumps x 15
  4. Knee tucks x 15
  5. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #4 – Resistance Band ICT Workout

In many ways, resistance bands are the ideal training tool for ICT workouts. They’re light and portable, so you can take them with you wherever you go, and transitioning from one exercise to the next takes seconds. Also, resistance band exercises are very easy on your joints, making them perfect for fast-paced reps.

  1. Resistance band sprint 30 seconds
  2. Resistance band sumo deadlift high-pulls x 20
  3. Resistance band thrusters x 20
  4. Resistance band seated row x 20
  5. Resistance band slams x 20
  6. Resistance bend kneeling crunches x 20
  7. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #5 – Rower and Dumbbells Workout

Rowing Machine at Gym

Rowers are the perfect machine for ICT workouts. They work all your major muscles and are low impact. That means you can do each sprint at 100% intensity while being kind to your joints. Drag a pair of dumbbells over to your rower for a short, sharp, full-body workout.

  1. Rower sprint 30 seconds
  2. Dumbbell clean and press x 10
  3. Dumbbell thruster x 10
  4. Renegade row x 10 per arm
  5. Dumbbell deficit push-ups x 15
  6. Dumbbell squats x 20
  7. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #6 – Power Workout

Assault Bike Tabata

This workout is ideal for athletes. Each exercise is a power move that will improve explosive strength. If you want to run faster, jump higher, or kick harder, this is the workout for you. Also, doing several power exercises back-to-back will drive your heart rate sky-high, improving your cardiovascular fitness.

  1. Air bike sprint 30 seconds
  2. Squat jumps x 10
  3. Plyo push-ups x 10
  4. Medicine ball slams x 10
  5. Split squat jumps x 10 per leg
  6. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #6 – Cardio and Core

Flutter kicks

While ICT workouts are best when done with compound exercises, that doesn’t mean they can’t be modified to develop specific muscle groups. This one is designed to build fitness, burn fat, and sculpt your abs.

  1. Treadmill sprint 30 seconds
  2. Flutter kicks x 20 per leg
  3. Russian twists x 10 per side
  4. Butt ups x 20
  5. Back extensions x 20
  6. Mountain climbers x 10 per leg
  7. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #7 – One kettlebell Workout

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebells can be expensive, which is why a lot of exercisers only have one of a few different weights. This workout assumes you have one light and one heavy kettlebell. You’ll also need a jump rope or some space to sprint. With such limited equipment, this is a great home workout.

  1. Sprint 30 seconds
  2. Two-handed kettlebell swing x 20
  3. Single-arm overhead press x 10 (left side)
  4. Single-arm overhead press x 10 (right arm)
  5. Single-arm bent-over row x 10 (left arm)
  6. Single-arm bent-over row x 10 (right arm)
  7. Heels elevated goblet squat x 20
  8. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

ICT Workout #8 – Cardio Conditioning Workout

All ICT workouts are conditioning workouts because, by doing several exercises back to back, your heart and breathing rate remain elevated throughout. However, this one’s a little more cardio orientated, making it ideal for anyone who specifically wants to improve their fitness and burn more calories.

  1. Rower sprint 45 seconds
  2. Step-ups x 10 per leg
  3. Jump jacks x 20
  4. Double unders x 20
  5. Box jumps x 20
  6. Burpees x 10
  7. Rest 60-90 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times

Integrated Circuit Training – Wrapping up

Lack of time is a legitimate barrier to working out. Time is a valuable commodity and sometimes, not having enough time could make it impossible to fit a long workout into your already busy schedule.

Integrated circuit training (ICT) workouts cram a lot of work into a relatively short time, making them ideal for busy exercisers. As well as being brief, ICT workouts target several different fitness components at the same time, delivering even more exercise bang for your buck.

Whether you do all ICT all the time or just use ICT as a placeholder workout on those days you don’t have time to work out for longer, it’s good to know that just 20-30 minutes of exercise is all you need to maintain or even improve your all-around fitness and health.

So, try ICT today – you’re going to love it!

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