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Circuit Training Class Ideas

author image Patrick Dale
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. A lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a contributor to "Ultra-FIT" magazine and has been involved in fitness for more than 22 years. He authored the books "Military Fitness", "Live Long, Live Strong" and "No Gym? No Problem!" and served in the Royal Marines for five years.
Circuit Training Class Ideas
Pushups are a great upper body exercise and work well as part of a circuit workout. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images


Circuit training is a popular form of workout that targets aerobic fitness and muscular endurance simultaneously. In a circuit training class, participants work through a series of eight to 12 or more exercises for either a set time or number of reps, with little or no rest between exercises. Some circuits may involve the use of exercise equipment; others may use only body weight exercises. Others may combine both. Circuits can be organized in a number of ways to challenge the participants and keep the workout fresh and interesting.

Round-the-Outside Circuits

This is the most common way to organize a circuit. Exercises are placed around the outside of a suitable area and participants work their way around the exercises, moving clockwise or counterclockwise around the room. You can place the exercises in pretty much any order but for a general workout, muscle groups are alternated -- such as legs, followed by core, followed by arms.

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Corner Circuits

Corner circuits allow you to overload a particular muscle group by placing similar exercises together. Each corner of the room has a specific muscle group allocated to it -- as in the core or legs. Choose three exercises for each muscle group, four muscle groups in total -- one per corner or the room. Participants then perform multiple laps of each corner before moving to the next.

Down-the-Middle Circuits

In this circuit class variation, exercises are placed down the center of the room and participants are split into pairs and allocated either an A or B status. While participant A is performing her circuit exercise, participant B is running laps of the room. On the command “Time!” the participants change places. On the next “Time!” command, the participants change places again -- except A moves one place down the row of exercises. This is an effective way to conduct a circuit class if you have limited mats and other exercise equipment, or you want to put more emphasis on aerobic conditioning.

Star Circuits

In a star circuit, exercises are set up around the periphery of the room. Upon completion of the first circuit exercise, all participants come into the center of the room and all perform an exercise of your choice -- such as jumping jacks. They then return to the circuit, advance one exercise and repeat. The exercise in the middle can remain constant to overload one particular part of the body or rotated. To encourage group interaction and involvement, participants can select the exercise to be performed in the center of the room.

Ton of Ten Circuits

For this circuit, set up 10 different exercises around your workout space. Each exercise should be easily scalable to suit a variety of fitness levels. The aim is for the participants to perform 100 reps of each exercise. They are not expected to perform 100 reps of each exercise in a single try but to chip away at the exercises until they have completed 100 by moving from one exercise to another and trying to complete the required reps in the shortest possible time. This circuit is particularly effective with sports teams and provides an element of competition.

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