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For many aspiring bodybuilders, natural bodybuilding is an appealing choice. “Natural bodybuilding” refers to bodybuilding that does not involve the use of steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, whereas “traditional bodybuilding” allows competitors to take drugs. If you’re a natural bodybuilder, the lack of drug use may mean that it can be harder to get to a low body fat percentage.
However, there have been many impressive physique transformations by naturals. Incorporating elements of plyometric circuits into training can help natural bodybuilders stay lean and achieve the physique they’ve always wanted. Below are three challenging circuits to help you reach your dream physique.
Workout 1: Box Jump/Ball Slam/Lateral Jump/Jump Rope
This jump-heavy plyometric cardio circuit is likely to get your heart rate up and challenge your agility as you move in multiple planes. Start with 30 seconds of each activity, or adjust for your fitness level or desired workout time. If you do 30 seconds per exercise and repeat five times, you will reach ten minutes of high-intensity training.
Ten minutes may sound like a short amount of time to do cardio, but one study indicated that those who performed high-intensity interval training three times a week for ten minutes per session saw a better fat loss and improved insulin sensitivity compared to those who exercised three times a week for 40 minutes. This study is part of a larger body of research that suggests that high-intensity interval training is not only much more time efficient, but it also produces better results. HIIT trainers lost nine times as much fat as those who only did low-intensity cardio.
For this high-intensity, fat-burning circuit, you’ll start with continuous box jumps for 30 seconds. Then, move on to medicine ball slams, where you’ll slam the ball to the ground from an upright position and squat to pick it up again. The next move, the lateral jump, involves jumping from side to side. It may help to set up a small barrier to jump over. You’ll finish the circuit with jumping rope continuously for another 30 seconds.
The large amounts of jumping in this circuit can help you develop explosive power, which is helpful when trying to add weight to the bar on major lifts. Additionally, including the high-intensity jump rope can help you get lean and shredded naturally. The fast-paced nature of the circuit can help you avoid the boredom that often comes with low-intensity steady-state cardio.
Workout 2: Burpee/Sprint/Box Jump
This shorter circuit involves the challenging burpee as a starter, but it incorporates sprints for those who like to run. Do burpees continuously for 30 seconds (or your desired interval), and then move into a sprint of the same interval. Finish out with continuous box jumps. Because sprinting is involved, it is ideal if you can do this circuit by an indoor or outdoor track, but a treadmill will do in a pinch.
This workout is good for those who enjoy running, and like the jump-heavy circuit above, it can help you develop explosive power. Pushing yourself to make just one more sprint (or burpee, or box jump) when you’re fatigued is also excellent mental conditioning for pushing yourself through rigorous hypertrophy training.
Workout 3: Push-ups/TRX band pull-apart/Box Jumps/Jumping Jacks
This last example incorporates the popular and versatile TRX bands. To start, do pushups for your pre-determined interval time (30 seconds is a good place to start). Then, move into band pull-apart. From there, you’ll challenge your explosive power with a set of box jumps, and finish out with continuous jumping jacks.
If you are looking for a cardio circuit with a little more upper-body emphasis, this circuit may provide the challenge you’re looking for. You can even add in some weighted dips for an extra challenge – the juxtaposition of the weighted exercise with high-intensity work like box jumps can add some excitement to your day-to-day training.
Many bodybuilders complain that cardio is dull, but it doesn’t have to be. If carefully planned, an intense cardio circuit can be an extremely helpful addition to your training program. While the above circuits have a few exercises each, you can switch out exercises or combine multiple circuits into one for a more challenging workout.
Cardio circuits involve an intense amount of energy, but in turn, you need to spend less time on cardio to achieve similar results. Swap out your long cardio sessions for some plyometric circuit training and accelerate your journey to a stage-ready physique.
Mike Jones is Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication, who is now focusing on a career as a writer. Check out his Twitter account here.