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Circuit Training

What is circuit training?

Circuit training is a mix of strength training and endurance training. In a circuit-training workout you do a group, or circuit, of exercises with little or no rest between exercises. Usually, one circuit consists of 4 to 10 exercises. Each exercise is done for a set number of repetitions or period of time before you move to the next exercise. For example, you might do squats for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, and then do bench presses for another 15 seconds followed by other exercises. Depending on your fitness level, you might do one circuit or several circuits during each workout. Circuit training can be done 2 to 5 days per week depending on how fit you are and how much time you have. Circuits can be made specific to individual sports, such as soccer, baseball, or basketball.

What are the benefits of circuit training?

  • You can exercise different muscle groups to get a total-body workout.
  • You can build strength and endurance.
  • You can burn calories and lose weight.
  • It is good for people who have little time to exercise. Workouts can be completed in as little as 10 minutes.
  • You can do circuit training at home or at a gym.
  • You are less likely to get bored with your workout routine since you are doing different exercises.
  • You can make your workouts as hard or as easy as you like by changing the amount of effort and the length of the rest intervals.

What are some tips and precautions?

  • See your healthcare provider before getting started.
  • Start each workout with a 5-minute warm-up such as fast walking.
  • After your workout, cool down with 5 to 10 minutes of stretching.
  • Listen to your body and stop if you have any joint or muscle pain that does not go away after doing an exercise.
  • Start slowly. Initially you might need more rest between each exercise. After you start to be in better shape, you shorten your rest periods.
  • For a more difficult workout, you can replace your rest interval with aerobic exercise, such as jogging in place.
  • Give your body a rest. Because circuit training can be intense, avoid working out 2 days in a row.
  • Every several weeks change the exercises in your circuit, or do different circuits in one workout.
  • If you use exercise equipment, be sure you are trained in how to use it right.

What are some examples of circuit training workouts?

Here are 2 examples of circuit -raining workouts. The first workout can be done at home and the other can be done on equipment at the gym:

Circuit-training workout #1

  1. Warm-up (fast walking) - 5 minutes
  2. Jumping jacks - 2 minutes
  3. Push-ups - 1 minute
  4. Jogging - 5 minutes
  5. Abdominal crunches - 2 minutes
  6. Squats - 1 minute
  7. Pull-ups - 1 minute
  8. Lunges - 30 seconds each leg

Circuit-training workout #2

  1. Warm-up (treadmill walking) - 5 minutes
  2. Leg press machine - 15 repetitions (reps)
  3. Lat pull-down machine - 15 reps
  4. Jogging on treadmill - 5 minutes
  5. Squats with dumbbells - 15 reps
  6. Military press - 15 reps
  7. Biceps curls - 15 reps
  8. Hamstring curls - 15 reps
  9. Abdominal crunches - 30 reps
  10. Cycling on stationary bike - 5 minutes
Written by Phyllis Clapis, PT, DHSc OCS.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-30
Last reviewed: 2010-06-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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