Circuit training is a workout in which a person does several different exercises in rapid succession with minimal or no resting between each. Circuit workouts can include both cardio and resistance training, bringing fun and variety to your workout routine. There are, however, both advantages and disadvantages of circuit training.
While circuit training is time efficient, it can require more planning and potentially increase your risk of injury if you neglect proper form as you switch between exercises.
Read more: Circuit Training Vs. Interval Training
Higher Risk of Injury
According to the American Council on Exercise, circuit training is a time-efficient way to boost cardiovascular and muscular fitness. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups so minimal or no rest is needed in between stations.
In circuit training, a person typically does eight to 10 different exercises. This variety of exercises can increase the potential for injury, as an exerciser is moving between different movements and intensities. Choosing one exercise and sticking with it doesn't carry this same risk. Circuits, though, can add variety to a workout routine, and, if safely performed, can be just as appropriate for beginners as doing one type of workout continuously.
According to Health.gov's Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, inactive people should start and go slow when first exercising. Beginner exercisers should start with lower-intensity activities and gradually increasing frequency and duration. As beginning exercisers progress, circuit training can be a helpful addition to their fitness routines
Read more: Circuit Training Class Ideas
More Space, Planning and Equipment
While there are both advantages and disadvantages of circuit training, there is no question that circuit training requires more preparation than hopping on the elliptical at your gym. A circuit workout could, for example, include chest presses, weighted lunges, burpees, jumping jacks and calf raises. While this is only an example of a circuit workout and you can program your own circuit workouts for your needs, if the gym is crowded, it might be difficult to find space for this or a similar workout.
The availability of space and equipment at your gym will be a factor in deciding which exercises your training will include. This problem can, though, be remedied by taking a group fitness circuit class. Many gyms offer circuit classes, where the instructor does all the setting up and programming.
If you are working out at home, you will either need to do bodyweight exercises only or purchase equipment to use in your circuits. Space can be a challenge at home as well, although outdoor workouts can be a good option if the weather allows. Planning your circuits ahead of time and knowing what equipment you will need and how much space your workout will involve is an important part of creating an effective circuit workout.
Potential for Fatigue
If your circuit training includes significant strength components, be mindful of not working the same muscle groups on consecutive days. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, strength training should be performed a minimum of two nonconsecutive days each week. You could take a rest day the next day, or you could work different muscle groups.
It is still possible to exercise the day after a circuit training session, but this workout should target different muscle groups or movement patterns than your circuit workout the previous day. If your circuit workout was particularly vigorous, consider a low or moderate intensity recovery workout the following day. Exercisers should be mindful of overexertion, as it can lead to injuries and fatigue.