Is Circuit Training Good for Weight Loss?

Coach helping a mid adult man exercise with dumbbells
Is Circuit Training Good for Weight Loss? (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Exercise is the key to weight loss, as it helps you burn calories and fat to improve your physique. And while some exercise is better than none when it comes to losing weight, you'll find that certain exercise methods, such as circuit training, may be more effective than others. Circuit training can help you maximize the amount of calories you burn during your workouts as well as throughout the rest of the day following the exercise session. Ask your doctor before starting a workout or weight loss plan.

Circuit Training Overview

Circuit training is an exercise method in which you perform six to 10 exercises in a row, with minimal rest between them. Once you complete all of the exercises, you can rest for two minutes before performing the circuit again. Typically, circuits will contain exercises that target a variety of different muscle groups so you can work on improving your overall fitness level. Circuit training can be useful for weight loss, but you may also use circuits to improve your strength, muscular endurance or muscle size.

In-Workout Calorie Expenditure

Circuit training may help you lose weight effectively because it maximizes calorie burning by keeping you active throughout your entire workout. Less-frequent rest periods mean you're spending most of your time exercising and burning calories. Circuit training can also help you combine high-efficiency calorie burning activities, such as treadmill running, rowing, and weight training, into one workout without getting overly fatigued.

Post-Workout Metabolic Benefits

The quick pace of circuit training provides an intense experience that can be beneficial for weight loss due to the during-workout calorie burning. But the intensity reaps benefits even after you finish your workout. Research from the August 2005 issue of the "European Journal of Applied Physiology" indicates that circuit training workouts prompt a higher degree of post-exercise excess oxygen consumption, or EPOC, than traditional cardio workouts. EPOC refers to the metabolic boost your body retains in the hours and days after your workout, and it can be a significant source of additional calorie burn.

Maximizing Weight Loss

You can enhance the calorie burning and weight loss potential of your circuit training if you keep a few strategies in mind. First, focus on choosing intensive exercises, such as treadmill sprints, for your cardio selections and use compound weight training exercises. Compound exercises, such as the chest press, make use of multiple muscle groups and burn more calories than isolation exercises. Additionally, research from the February 2007 issue of "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" indicates that performing cardio exercises in the latter part of your workout and weight-lifting exercises toward the beginning can help enhance fat burning.

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