Circuit training is suitable for everyone from the weekend warrior to the elite athlete to develop or enhance their level of fitness. In this respect, a single session is very time efficient when it comes to improving strength and stamina. When it comes to designing a circuit routine, the possibilities are endless. Like all other types of training, the best circuit is the one that gets you the results you are looking for and is best suited for your individual needs.
What is Circuit Training?
Circuit training is a series of exercises performed one after the other, with little or no rest between each exercise. Circuit training typically involves a combination of eight to 10 high-intensity aerobic, anaerobic or resistance-training exercises that are designed to be easy to follow and enhance fat loss, muscle building and cardiovascular fitness. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a designated length of time before moving on to the next exercise. A circuit is considered to be complete once all of the prescribed exercises in the program have been done. When one circuit ends, the exercises are then repeated for a second circuit.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Circuit Training
Circuit training is an excellent way to increase overall body strength and aerobic fitness. Those taking part in circuit training usually work in small groups, which allow beginners to be guided by more experienced workout partners. Circuits are highly customizable to your specific needs or sport, and can be completed with or without the use of expensive gym equipment. Circuit training programs are easy to structure, making them ideal for beginners who want a total body workout but are not sure where to begin.
While circuit training ranks favorably by those looking to burn fat and improve their aerobic endurance, it is less favored by those wanting to build strength and add bulk. However, if you're interested in increasing muscle mass, you can reduce the number of repetitions performed during each exercise and increase your weight or level of intensity. Also, rather than spending 45 to 60 seconds on a particular exercise, like you would in a standard circuit, you can simply reduce the amount of time to 15 to 20 seconds per exercise.
Upper Body Circuit
This circuit can either be performed for time or by completing a desired number of repetitions. To perform this circuit for time, complete 45 to 60 seconds, with no more than 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise. To perform this circuit using a set number of repetitions, complete 10 to 12 reps for each exercise, with 15 to 30 seconds of rest in between exercise. Perform three to four complete circuits before cooling down and stretching.
--Incline Bench Press
--Tricep Cable Pull-downs
--Cable Bicep Curls
Lower Body Circuit
This circuit can either be performed for time or by using a desired number of repetitions. To perform this circuit for time, complete 45 to 60 seconds, with no more than 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise. To perform this circuit using a set number of repetitions, complete 10 to 12 reps for each exercise, with 15 to 30 seconds of rest in between exercise. Perform three to four complete circuits before cooling down and stretching.
Perform 25 repetitions in this circuit, with little to no rest in between each exercise. This circuit should be completed twice before cooling down and stretching.
--Hanging Leg Raises
Total Body Circuit
Each exercise in this total body circuit should be performed for 45 to 60 seconds, with no more than 30 seconds of rest in between each exercise. Perform two to three complete circuits before cooling down and stretching.
--Abductor Leg Raises
--Adductor Leg Raises
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2000
- "Fitness: The Complete Guide"; Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D.; 2009