Since the rest period between sets can account for the great majority of total workout time, some strength and conditioning coaches and athletes favor doing exercises in groups of 2-5, doing a set of each of the exercises in the group, then repeating the cycle 3 or more times before going on to the next group. The exercises within a given group involve different muscles. There is typically little time between sets but, because of the grouping system, more substantial time between sets of the same exercise. Such a routine has been called "multiple mini-circuits." The advantages of this type of program are that:
- A lot of exercise can be done in a given time period
- Each muscle group has adequate recovery time
- Heart rate remains high, affording some aerobic conditioning
- The body becomes accustomed to intermittent high-intensity exertions, relevant to many sports
The exercises within a group use different movements and involve different muscle groups. A group might consist of:
- Push: bench press
- Pull: stack row
- Leg: squat
- Torso: leg raise
3-5 such groupings make for a comprehensive total-body workout. Done twice per week, this leaves time for a lot of other conditioning activities such as sport drills, plyometrics, distance running, speed work, and agility training.
The results of a research study by Robbins et al. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol 24, no 5, pp 1237-1245, 2010) supports this type of training. In the study, following a warmup, 16 males performed 3 sets of bench press and 3 sets of bench pulls 2 different ways:
- 3 consecutive sets of bench pull beginning 4 minutes apart, followed by 3 consecutive sets of bench press beginning 4 minutes apart, for a total workout time of 20 minutes.
- 3 pairs of alternating sets of bench pull and bench press beginning 2 minutes apart for a total workout time of 10 minutes.
Medical DisclaimerThis description of exercise practices and experimental results is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation. Anyone engaging in an exercise program should obtain proper medical authorization before doing so.