Fact Checked

Circuit Training: Everything You Need To Know About It

Circuit Training

30-Second-Summary
  • Circuit training has many stations of different workout circuits, which you can shuffle at will and perform repeatedly.
  • Many people turn to circuit workouts to get more benefits of training in 10 to 30 minutes.
  • To get more benefits of circuit training, mix workouts of different intensity and goals.
  • The advantages include a better heart, muscle strength and endurance, full-body fitness, and excitement.
  • Never jump into full circuit workouts before doing warm-ups. Always start with softer exercises and take rests in between to prevent injuries, pain, and sore muscles.

Introduction

Are you short of time but still want to get the benefits of compound training? Well, maybe you should consider circuit training. Instead of doing one basic exercise, get on a marathon of workouts to work all your muscles in about 30 minutes.

The quick transition from one training activity to another is not only fun, but it leaves you looking forward to the next session.

It will take you through endurance, strength training, aerobics, cardio, and more as you wish. It’s like cherry-picking food courses on a menu.

What Is Circuit Training?

If you want to build strength and muscle endurance, engage in a series of training activities – hence, circuit training.

It is a well-planned round of body conditioning exercises. Such circuit workouts may involve strength training, endurance exercises, and intensive aerobics.

You can schedule activities in stations, and do the circuit training workouts[1] one after the other. E.g., you can do stretches, squats, push-ups, pulls, and leg raises as one circuit set.

You can target different muscles and joints per station. For instance, you can target the arms, legs, thigh, core, glutes, back, chest, hips, etc.

Also, you can group the circuits based on intensity and difficulty levels, from the simplest to the most complex. And if you have the equipment or are in a gym, design a circuit workout to follow for 20 to 30 minutes. So, wherever you are, you can make a full-body circuit workout at home.

Types Of Circuit Training

Types Of Circuit Training

There are many types of circuit training since people have different training goals. The best types should aim at giving you a full-body circuit workout.

Several experts give a few types of circuit training, which we discuss below.

  • Strength circuits – Whether it’s bodyweight, free-weight, or machine-based exercises that form your strength training circuits[2], you can make any of them part of your routine. Plus, if you want strength training, you can set up a series of workouts to give you strong muscles.
  • You can combine different strength exercises as a circuit to realize your goals.

  • Cardiovascular circuit – To improve your heart health, cardio circuit training workouts will do. Cardio requires short bursts of speed and exercises that pump the heart more.

    You can warm up, then burst, ride a bike up a steep hill, and sprint for 2 minutes. Then, do jumps with a rope, sprint, visit a cardio machine, and do jump squats. Just ensure to vary the cardio and take about 30 minutes.

  • Strength and cardio – You can pick strength training gigs and mix them with cardiovascular workouts[3]. You can do strength squats, then a sprint. Follow that with a skate or rope jump, then do fast push-ups.

    Next, you can cycle uphill, do a bird dog for the core, then fast jog. That way, you’ll get compound benefits from cardio and strength workout circuits lasting 30 minutes.

  • Normal circuits – To achieve a full-body circuit workout at home, you may follow the normal circuit training. Simply because normal circuits involve exercises to do at home, even without expensive equipment or without any at all. Just schedule workouts for 8 to 10 stations, and you may shuffle the sets as you desire to avoid boredom.

    E.g., select workouts like press-ups, jumps, squats, runs, stretches, abs exercises, leg raises, bends, and lifts to complete a set. But, ensure you get a few minutes to rest after each exercise and do warm-ups before starting your 30-minutes circuits.

  • Timed circuit – Here, you set time per activity and rest in your circuit. For instance, you may set 2 minutes for a workout, and 30 seconds for rest between each exercise. But the timing depends on the fitness levels of participants.

    Beginners may have a 30-second exercise followed by a 20-second rest interval in between. The fitter ones can set 1 minute and 20 seconds respectively for each workout and rest.

  • Repetition circuit

  • Repetition circuit – When you have a large group with different fitness levels, try the repetition circuit[4]. Each group may repeat each workout a different number of times depending on their fitness levels.

    For example, if doing push-ups workout, some members can do 5, 7, 10, 15, in that order based on their levels. So, each category knows the number of times to do a particular workout set, like the press-ups, squats, or abdominal curls.

  • Competition circuit – Related to repetition and timed circuits, competition circuits suit large groups of different abilities and fitness. Each group competes to complete the set repetitions within the set time.

    E.g., 10 sit-ups or squats in 20 seconds and try to increase them within the set time. As a result, the trainees try to push themselves to increase the repetitions. The more the repetitions, the better within the set time.

  • Sport-specific circuit – Different sports require you to build specific muscles. E.g., soccer may require more leg, twists, and strength training. Boxing may call for chest, arm, and abs muscles. So, the sport-specific circuit will help different sportspeople pick exercises to include in their circuit training for more benefits and fun.

Circuit Training Workout

Benefits of circuit training

To get more benefits of circuit training, plan and time them well. Whatever the circumstances, ensure you have workouts for the total body, upper-body, lower-body, core, cardio, and trunk.

Also, include circuit training workouts with different goals like cardio, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance, and respiratory exercises.

Here are some complete workouts and steps you can follow.

    1.Schedule a Time Limit for your Circuit Training Workout

    The duration depends on the time you have in your hands for exercise. Set time for all types of circuit training exercises in your circuit without skipping some. That way, you will know the number of rotations and repetitions within your set time.

    E.g., with 45 minutes, you can set 5 stations of one-minute repeated seven circuits with ten minutes of rest spread across the individual workouts. If your time is limited, like 20 minutes, then push harder and faster to complete your circuits.

    2.Plan a Total Body Workout

    Most experts recommend you design a circuit with total body exercises[5] first before you specialize. You’ll condition your full body and avoid injuries.

    An example of a full-body circuit workout at home even without equipment could be as follows:

    • Start with a warm-up for 5 minutes where you slow jog, stretch, run a bit, bend, take breaths, and more.
    • Then, do squats for 30 seconds, followed by back lunges for 1 minute.
    • Next, do straight body push-ups for 30 seconds on your palms, plus 30 seconds on your fists.
    • Throw a sprint or fast jog for 30 seconds followed by 30-second shoulder taps.
    • Take jumps and tap your thighs as you jump for 30 seconds before doing side lunges for 30 seconds.
    • Do a bear crawl for 30 seconds, a full or side plank for 30 seconds, and you can take 30 seconds for leg lifts.
    • Do a final warm-up for 30 seconds, and your whole body muscles are now well-conditioned.
    • Take 5 to 10 seconds to rest in between stations as you wish.
    • If you have the equipment or are in a gym, you can try deadlifts, dumbbell thrusters, barbell rolls, kettlebell swings, and more for total body workouts.

    3.Pick an Upper-Body Exercise

    Concentrate on upper body workouts only. This means you take longer in stations or increase the repetitions in a circuit. As always, select the workouts based on what you have. But, you are fine if you have a healthy body.

    Take exercises like push-ups, punches, shoulder presses, and inchworms. Or maybe, plank raises, pushback push-ups, backward crab walks, pull-ups, biceps, plus triceps curls. Those with the equipment can throw in the chest press, shoulder press, and lat pull down. Plus, dumbbell pullover, Arnold press, delt-fly with a dumbbell, and assisted pull-ups or dips.

    E.g., you can have five circuits of shoulder presses, standing dumbbell curls, bent-over rows, push-ups, and triceps dips repeated six times to last 30 minutes.

    Lower-Body Exercise

    4. Schedule a Lower-Body Exercise

    To get more proportional, select workout circuits to condition your lower body. As in the upper body workouts, choose the poses you can afford.

    Select stations from circuit training workouts like walking lunges, squat jumps, calf raises, deadlifts, and hamstring curls on the medicinal ball glute bridges. Add the superman gigs, bird dogs, jumps, leg kicks, hip thrusts, reverse lunges, etc.

    A lower body workout can have workout circuits like walk lunges, squat jumps, and deadlifts. Plus, jumps, glute bridges, and hip thrusts for 5 minutes with five repetitions and rests for 30 to 40 minutes.

    5. Select a Cardiovascular Workout Circuit

    Now that you work upper and lower body parts, pick specific exercises to increase your heart rate and health. Choose workouts that make you sweat and breathe fast. For example, take squat jumps, short sprints, wonder woman, mountain climbers, high-knee taps, kettle swings, fast jogs, lunges, push-ups, and more.

    A short cardio workout can have a sprint, a mountain climber, jogs, fast push-ups, and squat jumps, each lasting 30 seconds, without rest, repeated 2 times to take 5 minutes.

    For outdoors, you can do running, rowing, cycling, rope jumping, hill climbing, and stair climbing. You may shuffle or substitute the stations to kill boredom or if you have equipment.

    6.Strength Training Workout

    Though included in upper and lower body workouts, you can pick a workout circuit specifically for strength training.

    Select exercises like wide-grip push-ups, standing barbell press, bodyweight lunges, bar dips, deadlifts, pushing poses, pulls, squats with weights, and swings.

    Schedule the stations and allocate time, then execute with rests in between. If using weights, remember to pick the appropriate weights to avoid injuries.

    Rest and Meditate

    7. Rest and Meditate

    Finally, take a deserved rest. You made it. Pat yourself on the back! Sit or lie down, meditate, internalize, and take a drink since you have done it.

    Got more time? Repeat or change the workout circuit.

    How long should your circuit training workout last? The length of all types of circuit training may depend on your training goals and fitness levels. However, most fitness experts recommend 30 to 45 minutes, with 30 seconds for exercise and 30 seconds for rest in between. Schedule 5 to 6 stations repeated 5 to 6 times. So, each workout is between 30 to 45 minutes.

    Here are a few examples of time allocations per workout circuit, repeated 5 to 6 times each.

    • Perform push-ups for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
    • Take sprints for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds.
    • Engage in squats for 30 seconds and 30 seconds for rest.
    • Do lunges in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
    • Let sit-ups take 30 seconds, plus rest for 30 seconds.

    Benefits Of Circuit Training

    Due to the many varied exercises involved, circuit training has many benefits if you do it routinely. Here is a summary of some benefits of circuit training.

    • Builds Muscle Strength and Promotes Growth – If you engage in strength training as part of your circuit, you build strong and bigger muscles. If you add weights to the circuits, the continuous tension of the muscles enlarges and strengthens them.
    • Compound Exercises Workout your Body in Full – Since circuit workouts involve a transition from one exercise to another, providing you with a full-body circuit workout at home.

      Remember, you work different muscles through each exercise in the circuit simultaneously. So, the muscles work out effortlessly, just like in normal life, making your body well balanced, more functional, and flexible.

    • Improves Heart Health – Whether during cardio, strength circuits, or both, your heart gets many benefits of circuit training.

      Cardio exercises improve heart and overall health. And by helping burn more fat and increasing heart rate, varied circuit workouts reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

    • Improves Muscular Endurance

    • Improves Muscular Endurance – You exercise for a long time which trains your muscles to be more resilient. This is due to doing more repetitive actions during the workouts. Your muscles learn to endure and won’t get fatigued as they get fitness to last longer in activities.
    • Leads to Weight Loss – If you engage in regular circuit training, you burn excess fats in various parts of the body. With time and proper diets, you lose weight as the rate of metabolism rises and burns more fats and calories.

      Studies show that a moderate to the high-intensity circuit may burn 8 to 15 percent more calories[6].

    • It’s Fun and Exciting – Exercise can be boring if you do one type regularly. But in circuit training, you switch activities, and you won’t even notice that time is running. The switches are fun and exciting, you connect with mates and look forward to the next day.
    • Saves Time – Some workouts demand a lot of time to get full-body benefits. But when pressed for time, many types of circuit training without rests will give you more benefits of exercise in a short time.

      Just switch quickly, and you get fit in 10 or 20 minutes. Plus, you’ll get more muscular and cardiorespiratory benefits[7].

    • Precautions To Take Before Performing Circuit Training Workouts

      Circuit training is exciting and fun. But, some people take it with gusto, to their detriment. However, experts advise you to take precautions even if you’re an exercise guru.

      Firstly, you must start slowly, spend less time, be less intense, and take longer rests between workouts for recovery. Then, do a thorough warm-up involving stretching to prepare the muscles and joints. Patience is key to success and health. Once you stretch and feel flexible, you can jump into some less intensive workouts.

      Don’t rush into competition on repetitions against time or competitors. This way, you’ll avoid sore muscles and joints, aches, and back pain that affect those who rush into circuit training. Listen to your body, trust it, and obey it.

      Conclusion

      With so many benefits, circuit training is becoming the norm for a full full-body circuit workout at home. You build more muscles, become strong, care for your heart, and gain muscle endurance. Plus, you can lose weight, burn fat, and it is fun.

      It urges you to look forward to the next circuit. And you don’t need expensive or any equipment at all. Furthermore, it saves you time as just 10 to 30 minutes will suffice for you.

      Again, if you participate in any sport, you can choose sport-specific gigs to prepare for it. And it doesn’t matter which goal you have. Whether you want cardio, strength, muscle endurance, or fitness, circuit training workouts are the way to go.

      But, always start slowly, warm up, and take less intensive workouts before going gung-ho to avoid sores, dislocations, and pains associated with unplanned circuit training workouts.

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