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Use circuit training exercises to improve all-round fitness and prevent sports injury.
by Brad Walker | First Published March 25, 2003 | Updated April 8, 2020
Circuit training is one of my favorite training workouts, whether for myself personally, or for clients.
I use circuit training for injury rehabilitation programs, for sports conditioning of elite level athletes, for improving cardiovascular fitness, for increasing strength, and to help clients lose weight.
In fact, you can use circuit training for just about anything related to health, fitness or sport.
Who else uses circuit training?
I was introduced to circuit training by an exceptional sports coach by the name of Col Stewart. Col is one of those rare coaches who can take just about any sport, and devise a specific training program that always produces outstanding improvements for his athletes.
His circuit training workouts are largely responsible for the success of many of his world champion athletes. Including his son, Miles Stewart (World Champion Triathlete), Mick Doohan (World 500cc Motorcycle Champion), and countless others from sports as diverse as roller-skating, squash, and cycling. Many other coaches are also impressed by circuit training and use it regularly.
Brian Mackenzie from BrianMac.co.uk…
“Circuit training is an excellent way to simultaneously improve mobility, strength and stamina.”
“Circuit training is one of the best methods of exercising as it provides excellent all round fitness, tone, strength, and a reduction of weight and inches. In short, maximum results in minimum time.”
What is Circuit Training?
Circuit training consists of a consecutive series of timed exercises performed one after the other with varying amounts of rest between each exercise.
An example of a simple circuit training workout might consist of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, chin-ups and lunges. The workout may be structured as follows, and could be continually repeated as many times as is necessary.
- Do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Do as many squats as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Do as many sit-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Do as many lunges as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
- Do as many chin-ups as you can in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
What makes Circuit Training so good?
The quick pace and constant changing nature of circuit training places a unique type of stress on the body, which differs from normal exercise activities, like weight training and cardiovascular conditioning.
The demands of circuit training tend to prepare the body in a very even, all-round manner. Circuit training is one of the best ways I’ve found to condition your entire body (and mind).
There are many other reasons why circuit training is a fantastic form of exercise, and what most of these reasons come down to is flexibility. In other words, circuit training is totally customizable to your specific requirements. In fact, circuit training is a favorite form of exercise for the British Royal Marine Commandos because they tend to spend a lot of time on large ships. The confined spaces means that circuit training is sometimes the only form of exercise available to them.
- Circuit training can be totally personalized. Whether you’re a beginner, or an elite athlete, you can modify your circuit training workout to give you the best possible results.
- A circuit training workout can be modified to give you exactly what you want. Whether you want an all-over body workout, or you just want to work on a specific body area, or you need to work on a particular aspect of your sport, this can all be accommodated.
- Also, you can change the focus of your circuit training to emphasize strength, endurance, agility, speed, skill development, weight loss, or any other aspect of your fitness that is important to you.
- Circuit training is time efficient. No wasted time in between sets: Maximum results in minimum time.
- You can do circuit training just about anywhere. One of my favorite places for doing circuit training is at some of the parks and playground areas near where I live.
- You don’t need expensive equipment. You don’t even need a gym membership. You can just as easily put together a great circuit training workout at home or in a park. By using your imagination, you can devise all sorts of exercises using things like chairs and tables, and even children’s outdoor play equipment like swings and monkey bars.
- Another reason why I like circuit training so much is that it’s great fun to do in pairs or groups. Half the group exercises while the other half takes a rest and motivates the exercising members of the group.
The Main Types of Circuit Training
As mentioned before, circuit training can be totally customized, which means there are an unlimited number of ways to structure your circuit training workouts. However, here are a few examples to give you some idea of the different types available.
- Timed Circuit: This type of circuit involves working to a set time period for both rest and exercise intervals. The work / rest time ratio can be customized to the group or individual doing the circuit. For example, a typical timed circuit for a group of people with average fitness might involve 30 seconds of exercise and 30 seconds of rest. Whereas a timed circuit for athletes might involve 80 seconds of exercise and 20 seconds of rest.
- Competition Circuit: This is similar to a timed circuit but you push yourself to see how many repetitions you can do in the set time period. For example, you may be able to complete 12 push-ups in 30 seconds. The idea is to keep the time period the same, but try to increase the number of repetitions you can do in the set time period.
- Repetition Circuit: This type of circuit is great if you’re working with large groups of people who have different levels of fitness and ability. The idea is that the fittest group might do, say 20 repetitions of each exercise, the intermediate group might only do 15 repetitions, while the beginners might only do 10 repetitions of each exercise.
- Sport Specific or Running Circuit: This type of circuit is best done outside or in a large, open area. Choose exercises that are specific to your particular sport, or emphasize an aspect of your sport you’d like to improve. Then instead of simply resting between exercises, run easy for 200 or 400 meters. You can even use sprints or fast 400 meter runs as part of your choice of exercises.
Circuit Training Precautions and Safety Guidelines
Circuit training is a fantastic form of exercise, however, the most common problem I find is that people tend to get over excited, because of the timed nature of the exercises, and push themselves harder than they normally would. This tends to result in sore muscles and joints, and an increased likelihood of injury. Below are a few precautions you need to take into consideration.
- If you’ve never done any sort of circuit training before, even if you consider yourself quite fit, start off slowly. The nature of circuit training is quite different to any other form of exercise. It places different demand on the body and mind, and if you’re not used to it, it will take a few sessions for your body to adapt to this new form of training. Be patient.
- You’re warm-up and cool-down are crucial. DO NOT start a circuit training workout without a thorough warm-up that includes stretching. As I mentioned before, circuit training is very different from other forms of exercise. Your body must be prepared for circuit training before you start your session.
- You need to make stretching and flexibility training a regular part of your circuit training. The added intensity of circuits requires that your muscles and joints be flexible and supple.
While the recommendations on this page are a good place to start, you'll get a lot more benefit when you add the right stretches to your training program. With the Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility you'll...
- Do away with stiff, tight muscles and joints;
- Improve your freedom of movement;
- Get rid of injuries, aches and pains;
- Improve your sporting performance; and
- Take your flexibility to the next level.
You'll get 135 clear photographs and 44 video demonstrations of unique stretches for every major muscle groups in your body. The DVD includes 3 customized sets of stretches (8 minutes each) for the Upper Body; the Lower Body; and the Neck, Back & Core. Plus, you'll also learn the 7 critical rules for safe stretching; the benefits of flexibility; and how to stretch properly.
Click here to improve your flexibility!
Examples of Circuit Training Workouts
It’s easy to design your own circuit training workouts and routines, and the best workout is usually the one you design yourself. The information in this article, along with the examples below, and a little bit of imagination, will help you put together the perfect circuit training workout.
Make sure you warm up before attempting any of the workouts below and take extra care to follow the precautions in the section above.
#1 – Repetition Circuit: A Total Body Circuit Training Workout
This circuit can be done individually, or in a group, and should take about 10 minutes to finish.
Beginners should take a 30 to 45 second rest after each exercise and a 3 to 5 minute rest after each circuit. Intermediate exercisers should take 20 seconds rest after each exercise and rest for 2 to 3 minutes after each circuit. While advanced exercisers should not rest until the end of each circuit.
- Squat Jumps: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Standard Push-ups: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Calf Raises: 15 to 20 repetitions
- Bench Dips: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Abdominal Crunches: 15 to 20 repetitions
- Jump Rope: 60 seconds
- Squat Jumps: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Standard Push-ups: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Calf Raises: 15 to 20 repetitions
- Bench Dips: 10 to 15 repetitions
- Abdominal Crunches: 15 to 20 repetitions
- Jump Rope: 60 seconds
#2 – Running Circuit: An Outdoor Running Circuit Training Workout
This circuit is done outdoors on flat ground or a running track, and can be done individually or in a group. Mark out a distance of 200 meters, then walk or run the 200 meters between each exercise until the rotation is completed. Feel free to use a time period for each exercise or a set number of repetitions. For example, complete 30 seconds of each exercise or 20 repetitions of each exercise.
Beginners can walk the 200 meters in between each exercise to catch their breath and prepare for the next exercise, while advanced exercisers should run the 200 meters.
- Walking Lunges
- Twist Crunches
- Jumping Jacks
- Push ups
- Bench Dips
- Squat Jumps
- Push ups
- Walking Lunges
Research and References
- Beachle, T. Earle, R. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd Edition (ISBN: 978-0736058032)
- Eggar, R. Loraine, D. (1996). Royal Marines Circuit Training, 1st Edition (ISBN: 978-0091813291)
- Gotshalk, L. Berger, R. Kraemer, W. (2004). Cardiovascular responses to a high-volume continuous circuit resistance training protocol. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(4) 760-764.
- Klika, B. Jordan, C. (2013). HIGH-INTENSITY CIRCUIT TRAINING USING BODY WEIGHT: Maximum Results With Minimal Investment. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 17(3) 8-13.
- Kraviz, L. (2005). New Insights into Circuit Training. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/circuits05.html.
- Mackenzie, B. (1997). Circuit Training. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.brianmac.co.uk/circuit.htm.
- Pollock, M. Gaesser, G. Butcher, J. Després, J. Dishman, R. Franklin, B. Garber, C. (1998). ACSM Position Stand: The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness, and Flexibility in Healthy Adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 30(6) 975-991.
- Sperlich, B. Wallmann-Sperlich, B. Zinner, C. Stauffenberg, V. Losert, H. Holmberg, H. (2017). Functional High-Intensity Circuit Training Improves Body Composition, Peak Oxygen Uptake, Strength, and Alters Certain Dimensions of Quality of Life in Overweight Women. Frontiers in Physiology, 03 April 2017.
- Wikipedia contributors. (2020, January 30). Circuit training, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.
What is circuit training Short answer? ›
Circuit training is a combination of six or more exercises performed with short rest periods between them for either a set number of repetitions or a prescribed amount of time. One circuit is when all of the chosen exercises have been completed. Multiple circuits can be performed in one training session.Is circuit training enough? ›
If you're looking for a full-body workout in 30 minutes or less, circuit training does the trick. You get the benefits of muscle building and toning along with an intense cardio workout.What are the 3 types of circuit training? ›
- Normal Circuits and Timed Station Circuits.
- Stage Circuits.
- Total Exercise.
Typically, a circuit training class will consist of a number of different exercise stations being set up around a room. The participants will be split up into groups of two or three people, each starting at one specific station and doing the exercise at that station for a set period of time.What is circuit training examples? ›
Circuit training consists of a consecutive series of timed exercises performed one after the other with varying amounts of rest between each exercise. An example of a simple circuit training workout might consist of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, chin-ups and lunges.Why is it called circuit training? ›
An exercise "circuit" is one completion of all set exercises in the program. When one circuit is completed, one begins the first exercise again for the next circuit. Traditionally, the time between exercises in circuit training is short and often with rapid movement to the next exercise.Is circuit training enough cardio? ›
Absolutely! Circuit training is actually one of the most beneficial forms of cardiorespiratory training - and one of my personal favorites. Any form of training that increases your heart rate and breathing rate can be used as a form of cardio training.What is circuit training benefits? ›
Circuit training provides many benefits, such as increased strength and muscular endurance, and better heart health and mood. It may also promote weight loss, and it's very time efficient and versatile, increasing the odds that you'll stick with it long-term.Is 15 minutes of circuit training enough? ›
In a word: yes! Short 15 minute-workouts can help circulation, improve your mood, and boost metabolism. My go-to for 15 minute workouts is strength training targeting either the upper or lower body. For such a short workout it's typically best to focus on one area.What are the 4 types of circuits? ›
The main types of electric circuits are Close Circuit, Open Circuit, Short Circuit, Series Circuit, and Parallel Circuit. Electric circuit provides the conductive path for the flow of electric charge or electric current.
What are the 7 steps of planning a circuit training? ›
- Step 1: Pick your time limit or choose the number of rounds. ...
- Step 2: Pick an upper-body exercise. ...
- Step 3: Pick a lower-body exercise. ...
- Step 4 - Pick a compound exercise. ...
- Step 5 - Choose a sprint for one minute. ...
- Step 6 - Rest.
- Step 1: Select Your Time Limit. ...
- Step 2: Pick an Upper-Body Exercise. ...
- Step 3: Pick a Lower-Body Exercise. ...
- Step 4: Pick a Compound Exercise. ...
- Step 5: Choose a Sprint for 1 Minute. ...
- Step 6: Rest for 1 Minute.
- Cardio Circuits. You can make your cardiovascular workout more interesting by performing a cardio circuit. ...
- Strength and Cardio. A circuit combining strength-training moves with cardio can burn up to 10 calories per minute, according to "Fitness" magazine. ...
A circuit is three or more exercises (strength training or cardio-based) completed in multiple rounds. Circuit training is a muscle and cardio endurance type workout with minimal rest in between exercises.What is fitness training and example? ›
Examples include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Strength, or resistance training, exercises make your muscles stronger. Some examples are lifting weights and using a resistance band. Balance exercises can make it easier to walk on uneven surfaces and help prevent falls.Who uses circuit training? ›
It can also be one of the best types of training for improving strength endurance be it for a sport such as soccer or a classic endurance event like the triathlon. If you haven't quite reached “elite athlete” status yet, circuit training is superb for general fitness and caters for a wide variety of fitness levels.How many exercises are in a circuit? ›
A typical circuit training workout includes about 8-10 exercise stations. After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next station. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body and core, so little or no rest is needed in between stations.How many types of exercises are in circuit training? ›
Each exercise is performed in a circuit training workout one after another with little to no rest in between exercises. Usually, there will be 8-10 exercises in a circuit, although this number can vary depending on how much time you have.How do you use circuit training in a sentence? ›
- All employees can use a gym on site in Manchester with a badminton court and lunchtime circuit training.
- I love yoga, boot camp and circuit training. ...
- I mix weight training, circuit training, sprint training and plyometrics [exercises to produce fast, powerful movements].
Circuit training can be a great full-body workout, but in order to reap the benefits (and there's a lot of them), it's important to incorporate both strength and cardio movements into the session—if you have questions, ask a trainer or coach for help.
How long should you circuit train for? ›
Anywhere from 10–45 minutes is ideal for circuit training — but the shorter the workout, the harder you should be pushing. And since you're alternating which body part you're working during each move, there's no need to rest between exercises.Is circuit training good for muscle? ›
But did you know that circuits can also be a great way to build muscle mass and get a pump on? Circuits that incorporate strength training can help you build lean muscle whilst getting your heart rate up at the same time - it's a win win.How does circuit training improve balance? ›
Some of the benefits you'll find with circuit training include preventing injuries and improving balance, because the resistance part of the training keeps the muscles, ligaments and tendons in shape and in harmony, which we'll learn more about later in this article.What is enough exercise per day? ›
As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Reducing sitting time is important, too.Is a 20 minute circuit workout enough? ›
Yes, 20 minutes of exercise is better than nothing. Any and every bout of physical activity/exercise contributes to a fitter, healthier - and, very likely, happier - you!Is 10 mins of exercise enough? ›
Short, 10-minute workouts are better than not exercising at all and can benefit your health, fitness, and mood. These micro workouts can help you establish an exercise routine, which is especially helpful if you're not currently active.What are the 5 main circuits? ›
Types of Electric Circuit- Closed circuits, open circuits, short circuits, series circuits, and parallel circuits are the five main types of electric circuits.What are examples of circuits? ›
An example of a series circuit is a string of Christmas lights. If any one of the bulbs is missing or burned out, no current will flow and none of the lights will go on. Parallel circuits are like the smaller blood vessels that branch off from an artery and then connect to a vein to return blood to the heart.What is circuit explain? ›
In electronics, a circuit is a complete circular path that electricity flows through. A simple circuit consists of a current source, conductors and a load. The term circuit can be used in a general sense to refer to any fixed path that electricity, data or a signal can travel through.What are the 8 types of training? ›
- Technical or Technology Training. Depending on the type of job, technical training will be required. ...
- Quality Training. ...
- Skills Training. ...
- Soft Skills Training. ...
- Professional Training and Legal Training. ...
- Team Training. ...
- Managerial Training. ...
- Safety Training.
What is a circuit format? ›
The circuit training format utilizes a group of 6 to 10 strength exercises that are completed one exercise after another. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a prescribed time before moving on to the next exercise.What are the 5 principles of training correct order? ›
- Training Principle 1: Overload. ...
- Training Principle 2: Progression. ...
- Training Principle 3: Recovery. ...
- Training Principle 4: Specificity. ...
- Training Principle 5: Reversibility. ...
- Training Principle 6: Individual Response to Training Stimulus.
Whether you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced exerciser, you should devote time to cardiovascular, resistance and flexibility training.What is circuit and its types? ›
|Circuit In Series||Circuit In Parallel|
|There is a single current pathway||There are multiple current pathways|
|All components have similar current running through them||All components have similar potential difference across them|
Types of circuits include five major classifications: Close Circuit, Open Circuit, Short Circuit, Series Circuit, and Parallel Circuit.How many circuit types are there? ›
There are 5 Main Types of Electric Circuit – Close Circuit, Open Circuit, Short Circuit, Series Circuit and Parallel Circuit.What are 3 Easy exercises? ›
- Squats for your legs, stomach, and lower back.
- Lunges for your upper legs and glutes.
- Planks for your core, back, and shoulders.
- Push-ups for your chest, shoulders, triceps, and core.
- Pull-ups for your biceps, triceps, forearms, wrists, shoulders, and core.
As we mentioned above, the big three are the bench press, squat, and deadlift. They're the three lifts used in powerlifting, where powerlifters use the combined total to measure their strength against their competitors.What is circuit short note? ›
In electronics, a circuit is a complete circular path that electricity flows through. A simple circuit consists of a current source, conductors and a load. The term circuit can be used in a general sense to refer to any fixed path that electricity, data or a signal can travel through.What is circuit training for kids? ›
Circuit training exercises for kids can include jump rope, hop scotch, throwing balls, jumping in the air, hula hoop, relay races, jumping jacks and dashes. Set up cones or other identifiable areas so children can move from station to station to see how much they've accomplished and how far they have to go.
What is circuit training a level PE? ›
An interval form of training. Stations are set out that train one or more components of fitness. The performer moves from one station to the next with exercise periods and rest periods. Circuits can be designed so that they are sport-specific.
1. A continuous electrical connection between any two points. 2. The means of two-way communication between two or more points.What is a circuit class 7? ›
An electric circuit is the continuous closed path along which current flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal of the battery. An electric circuit. Construction of a circuit: An electric circuit consists of a cell or a battery, connecting wires, a bulb, and a switch.Why do we need circuit training? ›
Circuit training provides many benefits, such as increased strength and muscular endurance, and better heart health and mood. It may also promote weight loss, and it's very time efficient and versatile, increasing the odds that you'll stick with it long-term.How many exercises are in circuit training? ›
A typical circuit training workout includes about 8-10 exercise stations. After completing a station, instead of resting, you move quickly to the next station. A muscular strength and endurance circuit alternates muscle groups, such as upper body, lower body and core, so little or no rest is needed in between stations.What is circuit training for seniors? ›
Circuit training is a style of workout where participants go through a series of five to 10 exercises with short breaks in between. These exercises target different muscle groups for an optimal workout. The circuit training programme is customised to the needs and preferences of the senior.What is circuit training BTEC PE? ›
Circuit training is where different stations/exercises are used to develop strength, muscular endurance and power. The stations/exercises use different muscle groups to avoid fatigue. It involves – A specific work out period, usually followed by a rest or another activity working on another part of the body.What type of fitness is circuit training? ›
Circuit training involves rotating through moderate-intensity exercises with little to no rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can apply a few different activities or one exercise alone, such as sprinting, at maximum intensity for short intervals followed by short rest intervals.