Is Circuit Training Right for You?

Combine Intensive Cardio and Strength Conditioning with a Circuit Training Routine

With circuit training, you’ll get the benefits of a high-intensity cardio workout, with strength training too. This is one of the rare forms of exercise which the strength and cardio ‘camps’ agree has some big benefits.

The basis of circuit training is that you rapidly run through a list of exercises, before returning to the top of the list to start the list again. Circuits can involve weights, gym equipment or use body-weight exercises instead. One thing is for sure, you’ll get an intensive cardio workout – which will improve your overall fitness levels – as well as working many major muscle groups.

This page covers the following:

  • What is involved in a typical circuit training session?
  • Videos + details showing some of the key exercises
  • 5 Reasons to give circuit training a go (the benefits)
  • Is any special equipment needed to enjoy circuit training?

What Is Circuit Training: What is Included in Typical Routines?

Each trainer will have their preferred routine. Within this you’ll find exercises like squats and push-ups which come up a lot, along with the pick of several others. Having a mix of cardio and strength training activities mixes things up.

You’ll notice that circuit training routines switch muscle groups as you go through the list. These cover upper body, lower body, core and total (combined). The lists below cover examples of exercises in each category – keep in mind that there are many more!

Total Body Exercises:

  • Skipping
  • Treadmill / Sprints
  • Burpees
  • Climbing

Muscles covered by circuit training

Upper Body:

  • Push-Up / Incline Push-Up
  • Medicine Ball Workouts
  • Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Workouts
  • Shoulder / Lat Pull-Downs

Lower Body:

  • Squats
  • Stepping Workouts
  • Jumps (Jumping jacks)
  • Lunges
  • Leg Extension Routines

Core:

  • Sit Ups
  • Crunches
  • Planking

Keeping up the intensity as you cycle through the routines is key. You’ll do each for 12 reps / 60 – 120 seconds, then move on. If you are new to this format, remember to take a longer break once you complete each circuit.

Popular Videos of Circuit Training Routines

As with the other pages including videos, I’ll start with noting that these are not associated with Fitness Review.

Below are 2 videos I picked for their clear explanations of circuit training routines. These will give you an idea of what is involved (the intensity levels too!), without being overly hyped.

 

The first one from the hugely popular Fitness Blender shows a circuit workout that you can do at home without any special equipment. What I like about this one is that you can get started right away.

 

 

This video from BodyBuilding.com takes a different approach. Here you will see weights being used, and an intensive / quick fire approach. If you are keen on toning those muscles as well as burning fat, then this (short) video could be right for you.

Advantages of Circuit Training

Before you abandon your current routine and jump into circuit training, there are both pros and cons. Even individuals who are already very fit will feel the ‘burn’ after a full session. If you are getting started, then work up to a full routine in stages.

Here are my 5 advantages to circuit training:

  • Location Independent! You are not fixed to a specific location with this format. Many people enjoy the social element of group classes. You can also enjoy circuits at home. Simply put a video on, a mat down (flooring is always important!) – and you are good to go.
  • Burns Fat: Routines which burn fat and get you fit at the same time cover two big areas. You’ll get rid of more fat than with either cardio or strength training alone.
  • Tones Muscles: Many cardio fitness fans are attracted to circuits as all the main muscle groups get worked. Compared with other routines, you’ll get some tone all over!
  • Social Element: Circuits at the gym are a lot of run, and the intensity means you’ll be supporting your new buddies too.
  • Varied Routines: Unlike some routines, there are endless variations when it comes to circuits. If that same old routine is getting stale, you can add something new to your list to keep things fresh.

Equipment for Circuit Training

This could have been the ‘6th advantage’ – circuit training does not need much in the way of fitness equipment.

If you are training at your local gym, then this area will already be taken care of. You’ll need comfortable clothing, a towel and an optional sports watch / tracker.

At home, there are additional requirements.

First, a matt. This can be something as simple as a yoga mat or interlocking foam tiles. You can find out about the different gym flooring options on this page here at Fitness Review.

You will also need some free weights, including dumbbells and a barbell. This will depend on your preferred routine. Those who enjoy the weight focused routines often have these available anyway. If you prefer the body-weight version, then some simple additions like push-up bars can add intensity to your workout.

Wrapping Up: Is Circuit Training Right for You?

Most of us would like to burn fat and build / tone muscle at the same time.

The big factor is whether the intensity of circuit training will work for you. There is only one way to find out – give this format a try. Remember, this does not need to replace every class, if you up the intensity just once per week, you will feel the difference.

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