Circuit training is typically used to increase strength, improve aerobic capacity and to burn fat. Circuit training increases your lean muscle mass, and you can use this type of training to build strength. If your goal is to gain large amounts of muscle mass, your gain may be smaller with circuit training than what you can obtain from a program using standard weight training.
Circuit Training 101
Circuit training is a flexible workout regimen for you to select the types of exercises in your workout. The idea is to pick five to 10 different resistance training exercises that collectively lead to a full-body workout. An example routine includes bench press, squats, biceps curls, triceps dips, shoulder press, calf raises, back extensions, crunches and rows. Once you choose your exercises, do them anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes consecutively with no more than 30 seconds of rest in between each station.
Increasing your muscle mass through circuit training requires two variables: heavy weight and increased calorie consumption. Circuit training workouts typically use lighter weights to help boost the aerobic aspect of the workout, but if you’re looking to increase your mass, use moderate-to-heavy weights. A circuit training workout can burn hundreds of calories per workout, so it’s also critical that you increase your daily caloric intake accordingly. To gain 1 pound of mass per week, increase your daily caloric intake by 1,000 calories per day.
Building strength and mass is best done by utilizing compound exercises, according to CriticalBench.com. These are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Compound exercises will help you build mass while speeding up your workout at the same time. A few of the best compound exercises include military press, chin-ups, dead lifts, squats, lunges, pull-downs, push-ups, dips and bench press. A good mix of these and isolation exercises in your circuit training program will provide optimal results.
Traditional circuit training workouts require little rest in between stations if your goal is to lose body fat and gain lean muscle mass, but when you want to increase body mass, you may need to increase the amount of rest between each exercise. You are not trying to maximize the aerobic benefit of the workout; you’re looking to build muscle mass. Instead of moving quickly to the next station, rest for 30 to 60 seconds in between exercise so that your muscles are ready for maximum effort on the next exercise.
- American Council on Exercise: Circuit Training
- CriticalBench.com: Compound Exercises for Maximal Muscle Mass
- ACSM's Health and Fitness Journal: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Body Weight: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- ExRx.net: Weight Training