circuit-training
November 30, 2021

Circuit Training: Definition, Benefits and Workout Routine

Circuit trainings can be a great way to mix up your cardio routine. Circuit training is a combination of different exercises that challenge different muscles in different ways. This is not an electrical workout. Circuit training is both simpler and more efficient than you might think. Here’s how to start.

MEET THE EXPERT

  • Joe Masiello, CSCS, MES is a co-founder of Focus Integrated Fitness, Focus Personal Training Institute and a member of the Byrdie Advisory board.
  • Julia Gautreaux, a general manager at Rumble Boxing & Rumble Training, is a trainer.
  • John Thornhill, ACE-CPT-certified master instructor at Aaptiv, is John Thornhill.

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit-Training
Circuit-Training

Circuit training involves moving “from one exercise or another with little rest between.” This type of training often includes exercises that target different muscle groups in the circuit,” states Joe Masiello, CSCS. MES, cofounder of Focus Integrated Fitness, Focus Personal Training Institute, New York City and a Byrdie Advisory board Member. He says that a circuit typically includes five to ten different exercises. A circuit can also be all strength-based, cardiovascular-based, or a combination.

What Are the Benefits of Circuit Training?

Fitness-enthusiasts-performing-circuit-training
Performing-circuit-training

Circuit training has the advantage of combining cardio and strength-training in a total body workout. Masiello says that circuit training can help you burn more calories by including strength training for multiple muscles groups, with little rest, as opposed to slow, steady-state cardio.

Circuit training’s greatest asset is its efficiency. You work different muscle groups and have different output goals (endurance/strength, cardio, etc.). Julia Gautreaux is a general manager and trainer at Rumble Boxing & Rumble Training in San Francisco. While steady-state cardio is great for endurance, it can also be detrimental to your overall health and body composition. Circuit training is functional because it “teaches your muscles to work together and includes movements that help you in everyday life”, says Gautreaux.

This is a great alternative for those who don’t have the time or attention span to exercise and don’t have the time. Circuit training lets you do a lot of different exercises, and it works a variety muscle groups in a short time. John Thornhill, a master trainer at Aaptiv who is ACE-CPT certified, says that it’s a great way to spice up your workout and prevent boredom.

Is Weight Loss Possible with Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a terrific alternative for you if you want to reduce weight, increase your fitness, or improve your muscle tone. This training approach keeps you moving throughout the workout, which helps you lose weight by increasing your heart rate and, as a result, your overall calorie burn. Furthermore, gym-goers of all levels can participate in this type of training!

Circuit training may be a good option for you if you want to make your workouts more time and calorie efficient, more exciting, or if you want to attempt a new workout technique.

What Precautions Should You Take Before Doing Circuit Training?

As with all workouts, it is important to warm up properly. Masiello recommends spending five to ten minutes getting your body ready for exercise. This can include dynamic stretching and body-weight movements.

Begin slowly if you are a beginner. Thornhill says that you should start slowly and reduce the intensity or resistance of each exercise. Also, allow more time between exercises for recovery. Masiello suggests that you create your own circuit workouts by choosing exercises that allow you to recover from the last exercise you did. For example, if an exercise works your lower body it can be used to work your upper body.

All three trainers emphasize the importance of listening to your body and understanding its limitations. Circuit training is beneficial for all fitness levels, says Gautreaux. It allows you to do each exercise at your own pace and in your own time.

However, you must be aware of any injuries that you may have before you begin your circuit. If you have a wrist injury, you might choose a circuit that focuses on the core or lower body. She says, “In the circuit listen to your body and take as many breaks as you need.”

How Long Should Your Circuit Training Workout Be?

There is no single right answer as every person’s body, goals and abilities are unique. The intensity of your training goals and the duration will determine how long it takes to complete a circuit.

Masiello says that a circuit with a higher intensity would not last as long as one with a lower intensity. “A circuit lasting 20-30 minutes is a good place to start.”

How Often Should you train?

You should take one or two days off between circuits if you’re doing full-body circuits (like the ones we’ve done below). This means you can undertake circuit training twice/thrice a week based on your experience and goals. Recovery is essential and you wouldn’t want to over train yourself.

Two Circuit Training Workouts to Try

Here are two home workouts that you can do to achieve a total body workout that greatly aids in weight loss. Some of the exercises are solely bodyweight exercises with a different muscle group targeted every time.

Circuit Training Workout 1

Masiello suggests this circuit for general strength and conditioning. It includes five exercises, dumbbells and a medicine ball.

Dumbbell Thruster

Dumbbell-Thrusters
Dumbbell-thrusters-circuit-training
JOE MASIELLO / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO
  • Place your feet flat on ground and stand with your hips apart.
  • With your palms facing one another, hold dumbbells at shoulder level. The weights should be just below your elbows.
  • Squat down until your thighs meet the ground. Your hip crease should be slightly lower that your kneecap.
  • Turn the motion around and return to the original position.
  • Once you have reached the starting position, lift the dumbbells up.
  • Lower dumbbells until they are in the starting position. Then, go back to squat.
  • Do 10–15 reps.

Dumbbell Row – 3 Pt Stance

Dumbbell-Rows
Dumbbell-rows-circuit-training

JOE MASIELLO / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO
  • Stand on one leg and and place the other leg on a stool with you knee bent facing the stool.
  • Place one hand on a high stool or bench and lean forward. Your arm should be extended.
  • Grab the dumbbell using your other free hand.
  • Keep your core engaged and draw the dumbbell towards your body until it touches your abdominal wall.
  • You can pause for a second and then go lower. Then, you can continue.
  • Perform 10 reps for each arm.

Medicine Ball Tap

Medicine-Ball
Medicine-ball-circuit-training
JOE MASIELLO / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO
  • Standing tall in front a medicine ball.
  • Slowly lift your left leg, tap your forefoot onto the ball and then return to the ground.
  • Continue with the other foot, and then cycle back and forth for each foot.
  • To make the exercise complete, arms should be moved in a reciprocal motion. Throughout the exercise, you must maintain a neutral spine.
  • Continue for 60 seconds.

Push-Up Shoulder Tap

Push-ups-upper-body-exercise
Push-ups-circuit-training
JOE MASIELLO / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO
  • With your knees on floor, place your feet on the ground and begin a push-up position. Your arms should be straight with your elbows extended and your hands below the shoulders. You can increase the difficulty of movement by moving from a seated position on your knees to a push-up (knees above the ground) and transferring your body to your arms.
  • To lower your torso to the floor, bend your elbows.
  • To return to your starting position, push your hands to the floor.
  • Once you reach the starting position, shift your weight over to your left arm. This will allow you to balance your body as you lift your righthand off the ground.
  • Tap the left shoulder using your right hand.
  • Restore your right hand to the starting position below the right shoulder, and then repeat the shoulder tap with your left hand.
  • Return your left hand to the starting position, then move again, starting with the push up.
  • Do 10–15 reps.

Stability Ball Hip Bridge

Hip-Bridge
Hip-bridge-circuit-training
JOE MASIELLO / DESIGN TIANA CRISPINO
  • Place your hands on the front surface of the stability ball. Your arms should be at your sides.
  • Keep the ball in your hands and press your heels into the floor. This will allow your hips to reach the ceiling and lift your hips off the ground. Your shoulders, head and arms should not touch the ground.
  • Keep it going for at least one count and then reduce the number.
  • Do 10–15 reps.

Circuit Training Workout 2

Gautreaux’s 12-minute circuit targets the entire body. It combines strength, endurance, and cardio exercises. The circuit consists of four exercises with eight repetitions each, and is repeated for three minutes. Take a break for one minute, then go back to the circuit and burn fat!

Alternating Reverse Lunge

 walking-lunges-with barbell
Walking-lunges-using-barbell-Circuit-Training
JULIA GAUTREAUX / RUMBLE BOXING and RUMBLE TRAINING / DESIGNED BY TIANA CRISPINO
  • Stand with your weights in your hands.
  • Place one foot forward into a lunge and bend each knee 90 degrees.
  • To stand up, press your heel against the ground.
  • Switch legs at the top.
  • Do eight reps.

Sprawls

Sprawls-Near-the-Ocean
Sprawls-near-the-ocean-circuit-training
JULIA GAUTREAUX / RUMBLE BOXING and RUMBLE TRAINING / DESIGNED BY TIANA CRISPINO
  • Begin by standing in a plank position, with your hands over and holding your weights.
  • Get your feet up and squat down.
  • As you stand, take your weights.
  • Do eight reps.

This is a great cardio exercise when done with the right intensity.

Front Squats

 Squats
Squats-circuit-training
JULIA GAUTREAUX / RUMBLE BOXING and RUMBLE TRAINING / DESIGNED BY TIANA CRISPINO
  • You can rack weights up to your shoulders.
  • Place your feet outside, with your hips apart.
  • Lower your seat towards your heels with your knees bent.
  • Standing tall, squeeze your glutes to the top.
  • Do eight reps.

Narrow Shoulder Press

Shoulder-press-using-dumbbells
Shoulder-press-using-dumbbells-circuit-training
JULIA GAUTREAUX / RUMBLE BOXING and RUMBLE TRAINING / DESIGNED BY TIANA CRISPINO
  • Start by balancing your weight at 90 degrees. Keep your elbows at shoulder height, and your palms facing eachother.
  • Both weights should be lifted overhead. Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and stop before your elbows reach below shoulder height.