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Circuit training with bodyweight exercises is tougher than running

A circuit training session that consists of bodyweight exercises performed in quick succession can be tougher than a traditional cardio session in which you run continuously at high speed. Sports scientists at Kennesaw State University in the US wrote about this in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. The researchers discovered that fit males not only experience circuit training as heavier going, but that it also makes more demands on the cardiovascular system.

The researchers got ten fit male students to do a twenty-minute training session on two separate occasions. On one occasion the subjects had to run on a treadmill at an intensity of 85 percent of their maximal heart rate.

On the other occasion they did the CrossFit Cindy workout. This consists of series of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats. The subjects had to do as many series as they could within the 20-minute timeframe.

The researchers compared these two workouts, not only because they lasted the same amount of time, but at first glance also seem to be equally intensive.

During the workouts the participants' heart beat rose higher during the CrossFit training session than during the treadmill session. And the students found the CrossFit training session more tiring than running on the treadmill.

Circuit training with bodyweight exercises is tougher than running

Circuit training with bodyweight exercises is tougher than running

An electrocardiogram also showed that the heart muscle had to work harder during the circuit training than during the treadmill running.

The students' blood contained considerably more adrenalin [Epinephrine] and noradrenalin [Norepinephrine] during [IPE], 60 minutes [1HR] and 120 minutes [2HR] after the circuit training session than during and after the running session.

Circuit training with bodyweight exercises is tougher than running

"The application of a high-intensity training protocol as a general form of exercise has seen a market growth of interest", the researchers concluded. "Importantly, little information is available pertaining high-intensity training protocol and autonomic stress."

"The results of this study demonstrated that a bout of a high-intensity training protocol created a greater disruption to cardiac autonomic control when compared to running, despite closely matching for intensity and time."

"Interestingly, the recovery after the closely followed that of the treadmill bout, despite the greater stress experienced. This is important because a greater training stimulus was experienced for the same amount of time and intensity, making high-intensity training a viable option for those training with time restrictions."

J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Apr;30(4):1050-8.

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