The Metabolic Circuit

This fat burning circuit workout by Julie Michaelson raises your EPOC, allowing you to burn more calories after the workout is over.

Workout Summary

Lose Fat
Full Body
Intermediate
1
Barbell, Dumbbells, Kettle Bells
Male & Female

Workout Description

I’ve recently started implementing “metabolic circuit” training into my regular workouts. When done correctly, metabolic circuits are intense, effective and efficient. Metabolic circuit training is a great program to incorporate into your regular training to give your body something completely different from what it’s accustomed to. It’s also a welcome change and a huge fat burner over your typical steady state cardio. I currently do metabolic training one day a week in addition to my regular body part split. On the day that I do my metabolic training I do not do steady state cardio. If I’ve done it right, at the end of the session, my body is completely finished and it’s time to eat, rest and recover.

The number one benefit of metabolic circuit training is that it raises your Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) which means that you will continue to burn more calories after the workout is over. If you’re looking to maximize fat loss, your goal is to increase your EPOC as much as possible so you burn more calories in a given day. The more intense your training (the harder you work), the more you raise your EPOC as your body has to work harder to return to its pre-workout state.

There are a number of ways to raise your EPOC – shorten the rest time between sets, lift heavy weights and add aerobic training. What I particularly love of the Metabolic Circuit is that I can accomplish all three of these things in one very effective and efficient workout. This workout should not take longer than 30 minutes if you’re sticking to the instructed rest intervals. I recommend starting with 2 circuits and building up to the full 3 circuit workout. This workout could be done 3 times a week with adequate rest and proper nutrition. Grab your Gymboss interval timer or be a slave to your watch…whatever works.

The idea here is to complete 3 rounds of the circuit. Each set starts at the top of the minute. Complete the prescribed number of reps and rest the remainder of the minute, starting the next set at the top of the next minute. I’ve laid out two different workouts that you could use. You can play with the exercise selections and substitute your own, but the idea is to have compound exercises.

I call this my “Muscle Girl Cardio” workout. I always wear my heart rate monitor and usually my average heart rate is about 160bpm with a max over 180 if I’m cranking along hard enough. As you can imagine, by the end of the workout, my body is pretty trashed and I’m ready to eat and rest. Make sure you take in a good post workout shake (I like to drink Optimum Nutrition’s 2:1:1) and give your body adequate rest after this intense workout!

Option A
Option A
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 10
2-Arm Kettlebell Swings (can use dumbbells) 3 10
Bent Over Single Arm Dumbbell Row 3 10 (each arm)
Notes
Repeat this circuit 3 times.
Option B
Option B
Exercise Sets Reps
Romanian Deadlifts 3 10
Bench Press 3 10
Bent Over Barbell Row 3 10
Notes
Repeat this circuit 3 times.
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About The Author
Julie Michaelson is a nutrition coach, personal trainer and NPC figure competitor. Julie was also a featured body transformation on Muscle & Strength.

47 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Fri, 11/05/2010 - 09:07
Chris
Nice Steve, Will this interrupt the recovery process if I was this on my off days a form of HIIT?
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Posted Fri, 11/05/2010 - 09:55
Steven
You should be ok as long as your diet is nailed down.
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Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 06:09
Vicky Sareen
Is there another exercise a replacement for the 2 arm kettlebell swing? I have a weak back and the swinging affects it. Also I will do this on my own without any trainer so need to take the right precautions.
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Posted Sat, 11/13/2010 - 08:57
Steven
Hi Vicky, How do they affect your back? Is there any chance you can find a lighter weight to use with this swing? the best remedy for a weak back is strengthening exercises, and I would hate to see you abandon it completely. How heavy is your kettlebell?
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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 20:56
william
For the record, you shouldn't do swinging motions. It doesn't truly isolate the area and inertia is taking control. Also you increase the risk of bad form resulting in injury. Don't get carried away by what looks cool in the weight room. The name of the game in weight lifting is to be advanced in equipment because they are in competition with competing gyms, and the kettlebells appear to be advanced when really they are not. Lateral raises, and front raises, along with grabbing plates(25,35,or 45) and doing nice controlled movements will do better in the long run. It's not about heaving weight, but form.
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Posted Wed, 09/19/2012 - 13:03
CJ
Kettlebell swings is not about heaving weight, it's a compound movement that uses several muscle groups. Kettlebell swings are a concentrated hip drive that focuses in the glutes to get the bell up. The form is bad when people use their back too much rather then there hips. Most people just dont know how to correctly perform the swings. Form is only compromised when you become fatigued. Inertia is not taking control unless you let it, thats what makes Kettlebell swings difficult. I am pretty sure the Russians are doing it, so we should be too. They have always been stronger than americans. Side note: Lateral raises are a waste of time. Functional movements for functional living.
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Posted Mon, 02/17/2014 - 15:57
Cocky Boxer
You sir, are an idiot! You speak of advanced equipment and then you mention plate raises....how in the hell is a plate advanced? Kettlebell swings are an excellent exercise for anyone who has a clue, but clearly you do not. It isn't a shoulder exercise either you buffoon. It's working a hinge motion that activates the glutes and hamstrings, so replacing it with lateral raises is not effective. Go learn anything about working out and then post something that actually is worthwhile.
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Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 23:20
Zane
So you just do this once a week on top of one of your scheduled workouts?
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Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 09:21
Steven
Hi Zane, From the workout description: "This workout could be done 3 times a week with adequate rest and proper nutrition."
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Posted Mon, 01/03/2011 - 07:19
angela
please tell what a 2 arm kettlebell swings are please thanks alot.
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Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 16:37
Steven
Hi Angela, Do you own a kettlebell?
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Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 06:47
Mike
Hi Steve! Loooks like a great Friday workout to go into the weekend. Just to clarify, do you do 3 sets of each before moving on to the next for a total of 9 sets in each circuit? Also what is the recommended rest between each set, exercise, and circuit? Thanks and happy healthy living!
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Posted Fri, 02/11/2011 - 00:35
Alpana
So if I do this three times a week, I don't need to do any cardio? Should I be resting for the remainder of the four days?
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Posted Thu, 02/17/2011 - 13:24
Steven
Hi Alpana, That depends on your goals. What are your goals?
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Posted Tue, 02/15/2011 - 04:44
Rosalind
Hi, I need to gain 4-5kg (9 - 11 lbs) of muscle. I'm 61 years old, 5ft 10 inches, 40lbs overweight, don't eat or drink CRAP (caffiene, refined sugar, alcohol, processed foods) - other than a cup of organic coffee each day and a glass of red wine once every couple of weeks and fortnightly, 1 small block of 70% cocao dark chocolate over a week, is about all. Thing is, I had a stomach banding operation about 20 years ago and don't eat enough now (don't feel hungry) so have been told my body thinks it's continually in starvation mode and stores fat. My diet has been mostly vegetarian type but have turkey, eggs, lamb, fish 3/4 times per week. I walk 5 kilometers/ 3 times per week but am at a bit of a loss about the weight training. My gym has machines but I leave workouts feeling weak-kneed momentarily but never hurt the next day. It would be a great help if you could advise the amount of weights I would use for your workouts above and just anything else you could suggest as even as good as my eating is, I am losing muscle mass. I'm in Australia. Thanks in anticipation. Rosalind
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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 21:08
william
Rosalind, You should be eating small meals anyways, This will help burn off some weight and put some protein in the muscles, but these meals should contain as high of protein concentration as you can get it. Chickens, Turkeys, tuna, peanut butter are all fine. Basically do the 3 normal meal times, plus 1 in between breakfast and lunch, than lunch and dinner. Breakfast and the post work out protein are the most critical times. After you wake up, your body is weak from all the repairs it's been doing and needs more. Post work out is obvious. Good rule of thumb about the weight is if you're doing a set of 10, the last 8 - 10 should be the hardest. If you get to 10 and it was easy, not enough weight. If you get to 6 and you drop it, or your form gets jacked up too much. Every once in a while, switch up your routine, just to keep your muscle fibers guessing. Also it's all about angles with muscles. Don't just do a bunch of flat bench, flat dumb bells, and so on.
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Posted Tue, 02/15/2011 - 16:07
Mike
Do you do all three sets of each exercise before moving on to the next, or one of each exercise, like a giant set?
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Posted Wed, 03/02/2011 - 20:33
Rebecca Kazakoff
I need advice on the routine of working out, weights first or cardio first? I need to loose wieght and see results fast but I need to feel good!
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Posted Thu, 07/21/2011 - 21:13
william
Rebecca, You should do a 4 minute warm up on a treadmill/Cardio machine of your choice, because this gets your blood flowing. Then stretch a little bit, this gives your muscles full range of motion and helps avoid injury. low weight high reps are going to be some what of a cardio work out on top of strength training( it defines muscles better and slims area's down). Don't over train though because at some point it's not doing any good. When doing Cardio try walking, because this steals energy from fat, running sprints takes it from the muscles. If you're going to a gym and they have the steps machine use those.
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Posted Thu, 10/18/2012 - 20:19
david
It's been proven that stretching before weight training, well static stretching actually causes more injuries. You should know what your talking about before you give out information, and misinform people. Low weight and high reps don't equate to cardio training. Lifting weights low weight high reps does not define muscle better, that works out muscle endurance. The only way muscles get more defined are by adding more muscle. You also cant lost weight in "area's" like you said that's not how it works. Im certified C.S.C.S so thanks for telling people false info.
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Posted Sat, 03/19/2011 - 14:44
Sophia
This looks like a great option for a short workout window. This question has been asked twice but not yet answered. Is a "circuit" one set of each exercise, so three circuits equals three sets or is a "circuit" 3 sets of each exercise, so three circuits equals 9 sets?
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Posted Sat, 03/19/2011 - 14:46
Sophia
Is a circuit one set of each exercise or is a circuit three sets of each exercise?
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Posted Fri, 05/20/2011 - 11:29
Ericka Burrill
I have a few questions: 1. Is this a once a week workout? 2. What type of workouts should I do the other 4 or 5 days? Cardio in between or more weight-lifting? 3. Should I finish 1 exercise and then move to the next or should I finish 1 whole set before moving to the next exercise? Thank you Ericka
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Posted Mon, 05/23/2011 - 13:46
Steven
Hi Ericka, 1) You could perform this 1-3 times per week depending on goals. 2) If you are looking to tone up and build a little bit of muscle I would suggest a 3-4 day muscle building style workout. 3) You perform one set, then move on to the next exercise.
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Posted Sun, 08/07/2011 - 15:56
Justin
I've been reading some conflicting info as of late. I am currently 40-50lbs over weight. Not sure what my body type is as it's always been big in the shoulders. I am lucky that I don't have my families no neck syndrome but if I started doing shrugs I'm sure I would lose it. LOL. I'm 5'7" at 220. I would be so pleased if I could get down to 175-180. I know reading the scale isn't really what I should be doing as it is self defeating sometimes. I don't look like a pear or an apple as of yet, more like a box wearing Asics. LOL...I have no issues running on a treadmill 45min straight at a slow pace. I'm average strength when it comes to pushing weight. Stronger in the legs. I eat 6x's a day and drink about 3L of water. My issue with the internet and doing research on working out is the conflicting material. I truly believe in working out to your body type. I have read that doing cardio before your exercise is more beneficial to your fat loss. Now when I do this I have no gas left for my circuit routine. I would do this 4 x's a week and 5 days of running or Concept2. I have a home gym Squat rack, bench press, dumbells, 3 olympic bars and 900lbs of weight. On my first day I knew I did way too much as I was quite dizzy. I reduced the time on cardio by 15min and felt better the next time around. Second part to my question...If I feel great doing cardio after my circuit routine isn't that better? Does that not make sense? If it feels right, wouldn't you have a better chance of succeeding? Also, If I'm doing a circuit workout is upper body one day and lower body the next day too much or should I be doing full body 2-3x's per week with cardio following my circuit workout??? Please help, I hate bending over and not being able to breath. LOL... Thanks, Chubby and not loving it!
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Posted Tue, 08/09/2011 - 14:16
Steven
Hi Justin, "If I feel great doing cardio after my circuit routine isn't that better? Does that not make sense?" It won't matter either way to be honest. Diet is the key ingredient in the equation. "Also, If I'm doing a circuit workout is upper body one day and lower body the next day too much or should I be doing full body 2-3x's per week with cardio following my circuit workout???" Either way will be ok for fat loss as long as you feel recovered. My advice is to keep eating these 6 meals per day but to focus on dropping your total calories to 2200-2300. If you're not losing weight after the first couple weeks, drop the total to 2000.
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Posted Wed, 08/10/2011 - 22:35
Chloe
Hi, I have had a knee reconstruction 9 weeks ago due to sporting injuries and have not been to the gym for about 12 weeks. I'm usually an extremely active person and the lack of physical movement is driving me insane. Could you recommend any exercises that might be beneficial. I also have my boyfriend's 21'st birthday party in 8 weeks and was looking for a way i could tone up and hopefully be walking by then. Any ideas??? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers Chloe
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Posted Fri, 08/12/2011 - 17:11
Steven
Hi Chloe, I would focus on upper body lifts. You want to focus on two things to maximize results: 1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight. 2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-fat-while-keeping-muscle.html https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-diet.html
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Posted Thu, 09/08/2011 - 14:53
Lateonia Mayweather
I have lost 50 lbs on weight watchers but over the past two years have found myself constantly hungry especially when I try to workout 2 hours a day and the weight stopped coming off. Got discouraged so I haven't been eating exactly right since I was hungry all the time. I want to lose about 40 lbs. I am 5'4 and 180lbs. I would like to build muscle and slim down and wanted to know if I sould use free weight (whci I like) or machines (I like them but not as much as free weights) I also need to know how to determine how much weight to used and when to increase weight. I'm open to anything and would like to know what, how often, and how much I need to eat so that I'm not starving all the time.
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Posted Wed, 09/28/2011 - 14:51
Steven
Free weights are always a good choice, but machines can help too. The real key is progression. You want to focus on two things to maximize results: 1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight. 2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-fat-while-keeping-muscle.html https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-diet.html
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Posted Fri, 09/23/2011 - 18:46
Christine
HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS WORKOUT! I'm currently on my cut. Day 21 and I've lost 5.7 lbs, while incorporating this workout in my 1st week. Have been using a 40/40/20 macronutrient ratio, combined with this = KILLER!
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Posted Wed, 10/05/2011 - 12:56
Amber
Hi, I have a couple of questions. Is this workout effective in helping you gain muscle? I'm 14, 122 lbs, and 5"9. I've become very fragile and I need to gain muscle along with keeping a thin frame. I'm recovering from an eating disorder so I usually don't eat more than 1,200 calories a day, would I need to change that? And for each exercise... Would you do 3 sets, 3 times for a total of 9? Thank y'all bunches. :D
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Posted Fri, 10/07/2011 - 13:59
Steven
Hi Amber, If muscle building is a goal I recommend using one of the muscle building workouts on the site: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/muscle-building.html You want to focus on two things to maximize results: 1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight. 2) Eat to maximize muscle gains. Here are some articles that can help: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-diet.html http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/building-muscle-eating-like-a-bodybuilder.html
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Posted Tue, 11/01/2011 - 23:34
Luz
I have a feeling that you need to do the 3 sets back to back for each individual exercise and once that's complete 1 circuit has been completed. That's my guess based on that it says it should completely take about 30 minutes. Considering that it's mentioned do 10 reps in a minute the time in between you can rest. The next minute go again. Therefore Option A should take 12 minutes (last one each arm do 10 reps) to complete 1 circuit. Does that make sense?
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Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 14:23
Steven
For option A your circuit would be: Squat 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings Bent Over Single Arm Dumbbell Row Squat 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings Bent Over Single Arm Dumbbell Row Squat 2-Arm Kettlebell Swings Bent Over Single Arm Dumbbell Row
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Posted Tue, 11/08/2011 - 22:06
steve a
Hey steve, would this lead to over training if preformed on 2-3 off days in between my 3 day fbw, I'm currently on the Reeves classic(basic one).
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Posted Fri, 11/25/2011 - 14:07
Steven
Probably not. It's hard to overtraining. My only advice is to ease into things.
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Posted Tue, 12/13/2011 - 16:35
Huda Rabiu
Pls I wud love to to watch the video of how it is performed
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Posted Wed, 02/01/2012 - 00:48
jared smith
Is this workout to add on top of your normally routine for that day?-LIFT ON!!
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Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 19:27
Kelly
Steve I just want to say you are the first that I have read that has answered each and every question that they have asked time after time...Kudos to you...
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Posted Fri, 05/11/2012 - 13:27
Steven
Thanks!
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Posted Sat, 07/28/2012 - 17:31
Denise
I am very thin I want to gain muscle but am scared of gaining all this weight is this workout good for me?
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Posted Thu, 10/11/2012 - 11:21
Julie
Steve, I'm new to this website and I love it. Quick question; one set of 10, then move to the next excersise right?
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Posted Thu, 11/15/2012 - 06:42
Brian Walpole
Metabolic training is a system of exercise designed to achieve those desired aims in the shortest possible time. It combines the two completely different training styles of resistance training and cardio to create a workout routine that is shorter and much more effective in burning fat. Metabolic Training consists in doing structural and compound exercises with minimal rest in between. The sessions are designed as short spurts of intense activity, followed by even shorter periods of rest to enable recovery. Metabolic training thus becomes an effective way of maintaining a raised metabolic rate. This heightened metabolic rate results in more efficient burning of fat.
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Posted Wed, 12/12/2012 - 18:40
Martha
Hi Julie, This note is regarding to repeat 3 times this ciruit per week or 3 times this circuit per session? Notes Repeat this circuit 3 times. Thank you! :)
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Posted Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:44
sarah b wray
hi I have three hernias in my stomach area and I really want to get my belly flat again. I just don't know what work out I can do with out hurting my self . please help me
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Posted Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:58
sarah b wray
I have 3 hernias and I want a flat belly what can I do