Circuit training is a great form of cardiovascular exercise that predominantly strengthens your muscular endurance whist burning fat due to your increased heart rate, this is brought on by the minimal rest period/no rest period between stations. It is also used for people who are short on time as it has been labelled as one of the most efficient ways to maximise your workout time.
Circuits usually consist of moving from one exercise/station to another in quick succession, with a typical circuit consisting of anything between 5 and 10 stations. Each station will have an exercise that will be performed for anywhere between 20-90 seconds each, with no more than 5 seconds rest in between stations in order to change to the next station. This time can be classed as changing station time, once you have returned to the beginning of your circuit you should give yourself a rest period of anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes before starting the circuit again.
If you wish to make a circuit harder for yourself you can increase the amount of time you spend on each station or you can increase the amount of stations in your circuit, you can also reduce the rest time after each circuit. On the other hand, if you wish to make it less difficult you can reduce the amount of time spent on each station and the amount of stations in your circuit or increase the rest period in between circuits.
All circuits can be developed and completed at home or in a gym using top of the range machines, free weights or just simply using bodyweight exercises. Of course if you have access to facilities and are able to use all of the above then your circuit can be a mixture of all 3. You could also include cardio intervals such as short distance sprints to increase the amount of calories you burn which will also help fat burning.
A Strength Circuit usually involves using weight bearing exercises that are strength focused, these circuits can be created using body weight exercises, free weight exercises or machine based exercises. Each circuit can either be solely on one of the above exercises or a mixture of all 3, which ever you decide to do will be beneficial if planned correctly. You will find that even though this feels very much like a strength only workout, the quick succession in which you change stations/exercises and duration you are working for without a break ensures this is predominantly an overall cardiovascular workout.
The exercises used in your strength circuit will predominantly require the use of weights that will help build your muscular strength whilst you are doing as many reps as you can in your set time limit. By using these heavy weights (dumbbell’s, barbells, tyres, kettlebells etc) it encourages fat loss and physique development.
A Cardio Circuit can usually be completely different to a strength workout as it will include faster movements/exercises such as jumping jacks, burpees, jump squats and skipping with a rope. On the flip side if you have access to a gym you can perform your circuit by using anywhere from 4+ cardio machines such as a treadmill, cross-trainer, standing bike, rowing machine and a stepper. If you used the machines you could work on each for 2 minutes at a high tempo, for example sprint on the treadmill for 2 minutes, bike on a high resistance for 2 minutes, then the cross trainer and go as fast as you can for 2 minutes and so on. Once you have done 2 minutes on each machine, you can award yourself a 2 minute rest and then start it all over again.
A Strength and Cardio Circuit is set out in the same format as the cardio circuit and the strength circuit, the only difference in this circuit is too ensure you are getting the most from this circuit you
should have one strength station immediately followed by one cardio station and so on all the way around the circuit. This kind of circuit is the easiest way to give yourself a full body workout.
Circuits can be created in any environment with plenty of equipment or no equipment whatsoever, so you don’t need to use the excuse of I don’t own any weights or I can’t afford to go to the gym.
Here are a few examples of bodyweight exercises for lower body, upper body, core exercises and full body:
Lower Body Upper Body Core Exercises Full Body
Squats Press ups Box Crunch Burpees
Jump Squats Diamond Press ups Plank Bear Crawl
Squat into Knee Raise Wide Press ups Side Plank Plank to Push up
Squat into Calf Raise Press ups and Clap Crunches Walking Push up
Lunge Tricep Dips Leg Raises
Jumping Lunge Arm Circles Mountain Climbers
Jumping Calf Raises Superman Stretch
Wall Sit Flutter Kicks
Step Up Seated Criss Cross
There are many advantages of all forms of circuit training, the predominant points are they positively influence your muscular endurance and increase strength. Circuit training is also very adaptable, it can be used as a form of training for every individual and any sport regardless of age, fitness level and any other health related factors that could prevent participation in physical activity as there are unlimited options when choosing exercises to include in your circuit. By having so many options to choose from when designing your circuit you can easily prevent boredom by changing the exercises each session. You can make all circuits using basic exercises such as sit ups or press ups as these are effective exercises but also simple enough for someone who has never done them before to understand the correct technique, therefore leading to a sense of achievement once the circuit has been completed.
However where there are good points it is inevitable that they are partnered with disadvantages. There may be a huge variety of exercises to choose from but to be able to create a more difficult circuit or a circuit with new exercises in you will most likely need some specialised equipment such as dumbbells, barbells or even kettlebells. If you do require specialist equipment then there is a high chance you will require appropriate health and safety monitoring. Depending on how much space you have to conduct your circuit may dictate what exercises you choose to do and how many stations you decide to have due to the limited space.