Achieving a toned physique while losing body fat is a common fitness goal for many individuals. However, it is not an easy feat. Body recomposition involves simultaneously increasing skeletal muscle mass (SMM) and reducing fat mass, without significant changes in total body mass. As a personal trainer with seven years of experience, I have noticed that beginners often opt for aerobic training to lose weight, believing it to be the most effective way to shed excess fat. While prolonged cardio training combined with a calorie deficit can lead to weight loss, it also results in a loss of muscle mass. To combat this, I advise my weight loss clients to incorporate strength training into their routines, as it not only helps build a lean physique but also adds variety and enjoyment to their workouts.
One effective way to merge aerobic and anaerobic training is through metabolic circuit workouts. Metabolic circuits aim to boost metabolism and burn fat by combining aerobic and strength training exercises. This style of training gained popularity with the rise of CrossFit in the late 2000s. Even the actors in the TV series Spartacus (2010-2013) utilized metabolic circuit training to sculpt their impressive physiques. In fact, it can be argued that the ancient Spartan army also employed similar training principles, albeit under a different name, to develop their gladiator-like bodies.
According to a 2021 Biology systematic review and meta-analysis, resistance circuit-based training has been shown to significantly reduce fat mass while increasing muscle mass and overall strength. Additionally, it improves cardiorespiratory fitness, aerobic performance, and maximum aerobic speed or power.
To get the most out of Spartacus workouts, it is important to alternate between high-intensity upper and lower-body exercises. These workouts are typically structured as AMRAP-style (as many reps as possible) training sessions, where participants perform as many reps of an exercise as they can in a minute before moving on to the next exercise with a 15-second rest period. Each Spartacus workout should include multiple rounds of the same metabolic conditioning circuit, with a two-minute rest between each circuit. The number of rounds can be adjusted based on individual experience and fitness level, with beginners starting with two circuits and more advanced individuals performing up to five circuits.
Here is a sample 10-exercise Spartacus workout that should take approximately 40 minutes to complete:
1. Goblet Squat: Stand upright with a hip-width stance, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest. Lower into a deep squat while maintaining a neutral back, then explode back to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.
2. Push-Up: Get on all fours on the floor, extend your legs behind you, and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Slowly lower your chest to the floor, then push back up to the starting position. Repeat for the recommended number of reps.
3. Jumping Lunge: Assume a shoulder-width staggered stance, with one foot planted flat on the floor and the other foot’s heel elevated. Lower yourself until your rear knee touches the floor, then explosively extend your knees and jump, switching legs in mid-air. Repeat for reps.
4. Russian Twist: Sit upright on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms in front of your torso and twist to one side, then return to the starting position and twist to the other side. Alternate between sides for the recommended number of reps.
5. Mountain Climber: Get into a high plank position with your hands placed under your shoulders and your legs extended behind you. Lift one foot off the floor and bring your knee to your chest, then return it to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating for the recommended number of reps.
These exercises require minimal equipment, making them suitable for most individuals, including those who train in their garage gyms. However, experienced exercisers should consider using additional resistance to ensure optimal muscle stimulation. It is important to choose a weight that does not compromise form.
Incorporating Spartacus workouts into your fitness routine can be an effective way to achieve body recomposition goals. By combining aerobic and strength training exercises in a high-intensity circuit format, you can boost your metabolism, burn fat, and build lean muscle mass. Remember to adjust the number of rounds based on your experience and fitness level, and always prioritize proper form and technique to prevent injury and maximize results.