Circuit training is the perfect tool for anyone on the go because you get a total body workout and cardiovascular exercise in one efficient session. Circuits are great for fat loss, general fitness, improving endurance, and anyone who loves endorphins. You can work out with or without equipment and still see great results.
What is Circuit Training?
Your body needs cardiovascular exercise and strength training to stay healthy, but you probably don't have hours a day to devote to exercise. So you need an exercise program that keeps you healthy and happy and fits your busy schedule. Cue circuit training!
Circuit training is an exercise style that allows complete flexibility in how you build your workout. Circuits are a series of exercises you move through with minimum rest between exercise stations. Unlike high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you can work at a moderate intensity, so it’s more accessible and doesn’t require a high fitness level to start. You can perform circuit training on your own, in a class, or with a personal trainer.
Benefits of Circuit Training
Circuit training is excellent for anyone wanting to reap the maximum health benefits of cardiovascular and strength exercise in less time. Unlike traditional strength workouts that require much longer rest periods between sets, circuits cut down on rest time, which increases the workload for your heart, thus offering dual benefits.
Types of Circuit Training
The type of circuit training you choose will depend on your goals and the amount of time you have. For example, if you want to lose fat, gain muscle, and improve your muscular endurance - opt for multi-joint exercises that hit large muscle groups and use challenging weights. In addition, you can use bodyweight exercises to increase cardiovascular health and endurance and get your heart pumping.
- Repetition Circuit: Repeat one exercise at a time for a set number of reps before moving on to the next exercise station.
- Timed Circuit: Repeat one exercise at a time for a set time frame before moving on to the next exercise station.
- As many reps/rounds as possible (AMRAP) Circuit: Complete each exercise as many reps (or rounds) as possible in a set time, then move on to the next station.
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A reputation circuit can be great for muscular endurance, cardiovascular health, and fat loss. But first, decide how many reps you want at each station and if you want to rest between completing your circuit and starting again. Repetition circuits are a multi-purpose and easily modifiable workout style well-suited to most fitness goals.
Repetition Circuit: Fat Loss or General Fitness
|Goblet squat||15||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|Kettlebell swing||15||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|Gorilla row||10||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|DB press||10||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|KB halo||20x each direction||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
Repetition Circuit: Endurance
|Jumping jacks||30||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Mountain Climber||30||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Russian twists||30||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Superman||30||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Squat jumps||30||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
A timed circuit is another great option that develops our cardiovascular health and muscular endurance where you complete as many repetitions of the exercise as possible in the time allotted. Timed circuits are best suited for improving general fitness and heart health or as a cardio supplement for a fat-loss program.
Timed Circuit: Fat Loss or General Fitness
|Goblet squat||30 sec||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|Kettlebell swing||30 sec||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|Gorilla row||30 sec||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|DB press||30 sec||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
|KB halo||30 sec each direction||90 secs between rounds||3 - 5|
Timed Circuit: Endurance
|Jumping jacks||60 sec||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Mountain Climber||60 sec||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Butterfly sit-ups||60 sec||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Superman||60 sec||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
|Squat jumps||60 sec||30 secs between rounds||5 -8|
As many reps/rounds as possible (AMRAP) Circuit
Similar to a timed circuit, an AMRAP setup puts you in competition with yourself from set to set. First, you complete the exercise in the allotted time and achieve as many repetitions as possible. Then with your next round, you try to get more reps than the last. This is a fun way to push yourself and measure your progress from week to week. Of course, you can also do as many rounds as possible, attempting to achieve as many rounds of the circuit in a prescribed time. AMRAPs are great if you have a competitive streak and like to track your fitness progress.
AMRAP Circuit: Fat Loss / General Fitness
|Goblet squat||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
|Kettlebell swing||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
|Gorilla row||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
AMRAP Circuit: Endurance
|Jumping jacks||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
|Mountain climber||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
|Squat jumps||AMRAP in 1 min||2 min between rounds||3 - 5|
Best Circuit Training Workout Videos
30-minute Circuit Training with Weights
22-minute Intense Circuit Training
30-minute Abs & Strength Circuit Training
40-minute 450 Calorie Burn Circuit Training
How to Create Your Own Circuit Training Workout
Now that you know the benefits of circuit training and the different ways to structure your workout, you're ready to build your circuit based on your fitness goals and circuit style.
1. Define Your Goal
First, decide what your primary fitness goal is.
New exercisers commonly have too many, often conflicting, fitness goals. As a result, they work feverishly but do not achieve their desired results. For example, you cannot grow your glutes while losing fat while becoming a marathon runner. Simplicity rules when writing an exercise program you will stick to and will help you achieve your goals.
If your goal is fat loss, general fitness, or optimal health, aiming for 3-4 workouts per week is a good starting point.
2. Pick Your Circuit Style
Second, decide what circuit style suits your purpose best, then pick the exercises for each circuit station.
Multi-joint, complex exercises like squats, deadlifts, chest presses, and rows improve strength and build muscle, and I recommend including them in at least two workouts per week.
3. Remember to Warm Up
Every session should start with a warm-up that includes 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio to increase blood flow and a few bodyweight exercises or dynamic stretches.
4. Build a Well-rounded Workout
A well-rounded exercise program will provide cardiovascular exercise and address each of the following movements patterns:
Hinge at the knee -> Ex: Squat Hinge at the hip -> Ex: Deadlift
Push -> Ex: Bench press Pull -> Ex: Row
Rotate -> Ex: Med ball throw
Use the template below to build your first circuit workout
|Exercise||Time / Reps||Rest||Rounds|
|I.e. Squat||30 sec||1 minute between rounds||4|
Circuit training is an excellent option if you lead a busy lifestyle or want to avoid spending hours in the gym to achieve your goals. Whether you choose a timed, repetition, or AMRAP circuit, you will enjoy the many health benefits of cardiovascular and strength training in just a few workouts per week.
More Circuit Training Advice from GymBird Experts
- What is Circuit Training?
- Circuit Training for Beginners
- Best Circuit Training Workouts for Athletes
- Best Circuit Training for Runners
- Circuit Training Benefits
- Circuit Training vs. Cross Training
- Circuit Training vs. CrossFit
- Circuit Training vs. HIIT
- Circuit Training with Weights
- Is Circuit Training Aerobic or Anaerobic?
Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise.
Preventative Medicine. Potential health-related benefits of resistance training.
Precision Nutrition. All About Strength Training.