A new year of fitness for 2022, my circuit training routine.

badmin fitness and weight loss

I began the new year on a see food diet. I saw food and I ate it. My focused mainly on consistantly working out. For me this translates into the circuit training routine I’ve mentioned in previous posts. For the sake of the blog I will describe my routine.

My circuit training

I have had these for over 15 years and they still function as they should.
My old and trusty Bowflex adjustable dumbbells.

One circuit consists of the following exercises done with only a short time between individual sets.
1. I begin with a set of 16 crunches alternating one side then the other to get the obliques working with the core. See the image below.

2. My first lift is side arm raises. I use Bowflex adjustable dumbbells and I this is my lightest lift at 15lbs and 12 repetitions. I make sure not to lift too quickly or lower too quickly so that I control the weight and ensure I use my muscles through the entire lift.

3. Next lift is front arm raises. The weight goes up to one setting to 17.5lbs for each dumbbell and 12 repetitions. Again I control the lift all the way up and down and don’t throw the weight up. I lift up to shoulder height and no more.

4. I move the weight up to 20lbs for overhead triceps lift, making sure to keep the weight moving straight up and down and not out to the side. I do this because I don’t want to put strain on my elbows and I want to make sure I’m lifting with just the triceps. And as you may have guessed, 12 reps.

Dumbbell Triceps lift

Work the shoulders

5. Next I do the shoulder press at 22.5lbs because I am building to the end of the circuit. I suppose trainers recommend doing this lift from a seated position with a back rest so that there is support during the lift. However I lift for overall mobility and ability not just to bulk up, again 12 reps. I started this routine at home and didn’t have an adjustable bench so I do these and the other lifts standing up. The benefit of going these lifts standing is that it builds the core muscles as I lift. It is important to actively use my core to stabilize my spine and keep myself from arching or bending as I lift.

standard dumbbell shoulder lift
Standard military shoulder dumbbell press

5.1 Going forward I plan on using the Arnold shoulder press because it works all three heads of the deltoids. The only difference is the starting position. Instead of palms forward and above the shoulder level I start as if at the top of a bicep cur. with palms facing me, then I rotate the weight as I lift until my palms face forward.

Arnold shoulder dumbbell lift.
Arnold dumbbell shoulder raises.

After shoulders

6. Next I transition into single sided dumbbell raises to get my lats started. Moving up to 25lbs and again I do 12 reps. I get my back warmed up using this lift and do another row lift further into my circuit. I like that I can isolate my lat as I lift to get a good flex and am stabilized at the same time. This does work the rear deltoid muscle as well which I really like because I feel it’s difficult to really work it as much as the front and middle heads.

One arm dumbbell raises.

7. I insert another set of 16 crunches here to make sure I’m really working my core because who doesn’t want a flat stomach and the core strength that goes along with it. Again I alternate taking my elbow to my left and then right knee.

8. Now it’s time for the exercise that most guys love to do because, GUNS! Unlike the illustration I start with the weights in a neutral position with palms facing my thighs because I want to rotate the weight as I lift to get more muscles into action. I suppose I may start doing some hammer curls but to this point I don’t. As with all my lifts I do 12 reps but unlike previous lifts I stay at the same weight as my last lift which is 25lbs.

9. Here’s a great back lift that also builds the core, but I am very careful about form because when done incorrectly this can be hard on my back. However, when done correctly it works my entire back while also working the rear deltoid. This is my heaviest lift and on my first circuit I am at 30lbs and still staying with 12 reps.

Almost done

10. Time for the home stretch because all good things must come to an end. I started out doing regular pushups, but I switched over to these because I found it was easier on my wrists and I got more out of the exercise. The extra range of motion allowed felt right to me and this is the only chest isolation lift I do so I wanted to get as much out of this part of the circuit as possible. Because it is body weight only I do 16 reps.


11. I felt that I needed a lower body exercise so I found one I could do in my limited space with a dumbbell and it’s called a goblet squat. Unlike the pic I choose to hold it a bit differently because of my adjustable dumbbells. I felt that I might damage the plates holding it as shown below so I grip the handle with both hands and alternate which is below and which is above. This is also with the heaviest weight and why it is done at the end. For my first circuit it is 30lbs and 12 reps.

Goblet squat holding the weigh instead of the handle.

12. I always finish with another set of 16 oblique crunches. If I do another circuit it will be my the beginning of the next one but if I’m finishing it’s my last exercise. I feel that working my core is very important and using dumbbells forces me to tighten my core for each exercise. But hey, who doesn’t want that flat belly and strong abs, am I right fellas and ladies?

To finish or continue?

I find that I can do a full circuit in 15 to 20 minutes. If I’m feeling well rested and motivated it’s closer to 15 but honestly it tends to be closer to 20. I don’t try and make a big deal out of going fast, however keeping a good pace is part of the point of circuit training. My heart rate goal is to get up to 120 or so even if it’s not going to stay there. So, taking a long pause between exercises goes against my goals, hence keeping track of my time.

I use a fitness tracker that monitors my heart rate in real time and keeps a running timer on my workout. I consult the timer to help me keep up the pace and let me know if I want to pick it up for the next couple exercises. That way I don’t go over my 20 minute time. However, the fitness watch I use does not have a dedicated weight lifting mode. I find that very disappointing but I am looking to upgrade to a better model sometime in the near (I hope) future that gives me the specific mode I want.

Zep freestyle fitness tracking.
You can see that by the end I got a bit distracted and let my heart rate get back down to near 70 BPM.

In this workout I did four circuits at just under 20 minutes each. As you can see I did let myself rest a bit as evidenced by my HR dropping down to the low 70’s. However you can see that I also push myself above 150 bpm.

One way I do this is by upping the weight. As I mentioned I start at 15lbs then increase the weight by 2.5lbs until my adjustable weights hit 25. Then I have to go up by 5lbs increments so it ends up looking like this:

1st circuit.

1. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
2. Front raises 15lbs 12 reps.
3. Side raises 17.5lbs 12 reps.
4. Triceps 20lbs 12 reps.
5. Military press 22.5lbs 12 reps.
6. Single bent row 25lbs 12 reps.
7. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
8. Curls stay at 25lbs 12 reps.
9. Bent rows 30lbs 12 reps.
10. Pushups no weight 16 reps.
11. Goblet squat stay at 30lbs 12 reps.

2nd circuit.

Then for the next circuit it looks like this:
1. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
2. Front raises 17.5lbs 12 reps.
3. Side raises 20lbs 12 reps.
4. Triceps 22.5lbs 12 reps.
5. Military press 25lbs 12 reps.
6. Single bent row 30lbs 12 reps.
7. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
8. Curls stay at 30lb s12 reps.
9. Bent rows 35lbs 12 reps.
10. Pushups no weight16 reps.
11. Goblet squat stay at 35lbs 12 reps.

3rd circuit.

My third set looks like this:
1. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
2. Front raises 20lbs 12 reps.
3. Side raises 22.5lbs 12 reps.
4. Triceps 25lbs 12 reps.
5. Military press 30lbs 12 reps.
6. Single bent row 35lbs 12 reps.
7. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
8. Curls stay at 35lbs 12 reps.
9. Bent rows 40lbs 12 reps.
10. Pushups no weight 16 reps.
11. Goblet squat stay at 40lbs 12 reps.

4th circuit.

1. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
2. Front raises 15lbs 12 reps.
3. Side raises 17.5lbs 12 reps.
4. Triceps 20lbs 12 reps.
5. Military press 22.5lbs 12 reps.
6. Single bent row 25lbs 12 reps.
7. Crunches no weight 16 reps.
8. Curls stay at 25lbs 12 reps.
9. Bent rows 30lbs 12 reps.
10. Pushups no weight 16 reps.
11. Goblet squat stay at 30lbs 12 reps.
12. Final circuit and one last set of crunches, 16 reps.

Why did I do this workout?

Why am I doing this and what do I expect to accomplish? The answer is that I started this as an experiment to find out. I bought my weights 20 years ago and had been moving them around the state of Colorado many times before I started this workout routine in 2020. I used them on and off over the years but never in a particularly regular or concerted way.

Every so often I’d see them sitting around and feel bad that I hadn’t used them in a while so I would get them out and use them for a couple of months. I suppose it is better than never using them at all but it lacked consistency and I accomplished little in the practice. When 2020 came around and many of us ended up at home for days and weeks and months at a time it dawned on me that I could find a productive way to spend my time.

I wanted a routine that I could do in around 15 minutes so there was little reason to wimp out as it were. I felt that anyone can find 15 minutes to commit to a workout and it could be done at home! This was particularly useful because for most of us the gym was unavailable. I had a small area to use in my bedroom and every one of these exercises could be done in that area so again, no excuse.

Adding a ketogenic diet to the mix.

When I began there were fewer exercises in the circuit and I could easily finish in 15 minutes. Also, at this time I decided to experiment with a ketogenic diet. I figured that as long as I did the physical part I could also do the diet part. There was little else to do at the time so I dove in and over the course of a few months lost 40lbs. I bought 2 sets of new clothes as the fat melted off and my muscles grew. Now, I have not become a body builder and at 50 I knew that without some serious hormones I wouldn’t but I cared little about getting big. Getting ripped (sort of) turned out to be plenty of consolation.

Ripped, sort of
I’m not really ripped in the picture, but compared to a couple of years ago I am!

When I was in full keto mode I was much more defined than the picture above shows. However the phone with all those pictures took a swim in a pool with me and didn’t survive. Note to self, don’t charge a phone that tells you there’s moisture in the charging port! :,( Lately I have been enjoying eating a much more relaxed diet that is balanced and does contain carbs, but I am feeling the desire to get back into keto for a while and get that ripped look back while also fitting into my more snug clothing a bit more comfortably.

Yes there’s more:

Patience is a virtue!

The best fence you'll never see.
The best fence you’ll never see.