Most big-box gyms feature a cluster of machines arranged to provide members with a “circuit.”

Circuits are a gym’s equivalent of a no-brainer, requiring you to move from machine to machine for a prescribed number of repetitions—over and over again, just like hamsters or mice might running through a plastic obstacle course.

But you're not a mouse. You're a man.

We’ve got a better circuit—one that involves free weights—to build more muscle, burn more calories, and keep you challenged for the long term.

Option A

How it works

This routine consists of three circuits. The first prioritizes abs by placing them first. From there, you’ll move on to a light circuit that will burn loads of calories; you may repeat this circuit 3-5 times, depending on your comfort level. Finally, you’ll hit the main circuit, which builds strength and muscle.


Perform the first exercise as straight sets. Exercises 2A through 2D are done as a complex, so choose one pair of dumbbells and use them for each move. Use a load that allows you to complete your reps on your weakest exercise in the series. Perform six reps for each of the exercises. Rest 90 seconds and repeat. You may perform this circuit 3-5 times, depending on your comfort level.

For exercises 3A through 3D, adjust your equipment and loads as necessary, but perform them in the same circuit fashion. If you choose to repeat the workout, vary the sets and reps you perform on these last four exercises each session. This will help you to continue milking gains from the circuit for months on end. Rotate between 3 sets of 10 reps, 4 sets of 5 reps, and 2 sets of 15 reps.

Option B

How it works

Just as with Option A, this workout prioritizes abs and employs a range of compound exercises to recruit more muscle groups efficiently while burning calories at a fast rate.


This routine can be substituted for Option A, or combined with it, alternating the two for a total of three sessions each week, resting a day between workouts (and then two days before repeating the cycle). You may perform the second circuit 3-5 times, depending on your comfort level. Rotate the sets and reps on exercises 3A through 3D as follows: 4 sets of 5 reps, 2 sets of 15 reps, and 3 sets of 10 reps.