What is circuit training?

It is a form of training to burn more calories in a shorter period. Compared to traditional training circuits allow you to reach higher intensities on a steadier basis. The protocol for circuits is to set up stations and cycle through them spending a period at each station based on time, reps or sets.

Kyle True, DC
Chiropractic Medicine

Circuit training is a comparatively new addition in the field of Physical Training, making its appearance in the mid 1950's, with new varieties, such as Boxercise and Body Pump, coming on the scene each year. The aim of Circuit Training is a progressive development of the muscular respiratory systems. (Circuit Training Exercise achieves all round fitness).

Circuit training improves all round physical fitness, as opposed to fitness for a specific sport. A sportsman training for his activity therefore would be foolish to depend entirely on circuit training. However, skill related circuits can easily be implemented into your sessions.

It must be recognized that only through work (assuming adequate rest and nutrition are taken) can a muscular and respiratory system be improved on. Endurance training for which circuit training is a firm base to work from, must be regular and sustained over a long period.

Starting at a low level, appertaining from the standard of the class or individual, intensity should be gradually increased, with a progressive load being placed on the cardiovascular system.

Key Points to Circuit Training:

  1. Their standard of fitness, especially whilst performing your warm-up
  2. Numbers of men/women that you are going to take. (Make sure you have enough circuits)
  3. What do you require the circuit for, the aims of those taking part
  4. Amount of time available, normally 45 - 60 minutes
  5. Space and equipment that is available
  6. Motivational music, and suitable sound system
  7. Clear easy to follow circuit cards

Circuit training is a form of weight training that focuses on minimal rest between exercises. In 'traditional' weight training you perform a set, rest, then perform your next set. In circuit training, you perform one set of each exercise in your program back to back to back with minimal rest in between exercises. You have the choice of resting for a short period of time before starting back from the top. Circuits are typically done 2 - 4 times depending on the intensity of the workout and fitness level of the individual.

Circuit training is great for adding a component of cardio to your strength training workouts. It forces your respiratory and muscular systems to recover quickly. Circuit training helps keep the heart and lungs healthy by keeping your heart rate elevated. It is also a very useful form of weight training for clients with weight loss goals because your caloric burn is high during the workouts. 

Wendy Batts
Circuit training is one of the best methods to condition your heart and your muscles. Circuit training programs move you quickly from one exercise to another, allowing for little to no rest in between exercises. This demand on your heart and muscles makes this form of training a little more intense than traditional training, but the benefits are numerous. Circuit training can be fun and allows you to switch up your daily workout routine while increasing your caloric expenditure, decreasing the amount of time you spend working out and maximizing your overall results.

Circuit training consists of a series of resistance training exercises that are performed one after the other, with minimal rest. An example of applying circuit training to a workout is to perform one set of a leg exercise, followed by one set of a chest exercise, followed by one set of a back exercise, and completing the circuit with one set of a shoulder exercise. You should then rest, and repeat the sequence if appropriate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.