Circuit training is the name given to an assembly line of exercise stations that are all done as part of one exercise routine. It is an exercise routine that can benefit beginners and fitness veterans alike, boasting incredible versatility. Circuit training can be used as a personal form of exercise, and it can also effectively be used as training for a variety of different sports and activities.
The History of Circuit Training
Circuit training is a form of exercise that offers a balanced and effective workout. It has become a popular form of exercise class offered at gyms and fitness centers everywhere. Not only has it gained popularity within the fitness programs, but it has also become a viable home exercise option that even a beginner can design for himself.
It was developed in 1953 by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson at the University of Leeds in England. The idea behind its development was to allow people to work in conjunction with others while maintaining an intensity that works for them. Usually, circuit training involves 9 to 12 fitness stations that feature a single activity at each one. It is a collaboration of aerobic and anaerobic exercise that touches on various energy systems and fitness activities to produce a total-body workout.
What is Circuit Training?
Circuit training is a form of body conditioning that uses high-intensity workouts to build strength and muscle endurance. There is little rest involved, and participants move quickly from one exercise station to another until all stations are visited.
Exercises within circuit training target multiple areas – upper-body, core and trunk, lower-body, and total-body. Upper-body exercises can include push-ups, bench dips, back extensions, medicine ball chest passes, bench presses, and inclined press-ups. Core and trunk exercises could include sits ups, stomach crunches, and back extension chest raises. Lower-body circuit exercises might be squat jumps, compass jumps, astride jumps, step-ups, shuttle runs, hopping shuttles, and bench squats. Total-body exercise choices include burpees, treadmills, squat thrusts, skipping, and jogging.
How to Put Together a Personal Circuit Training Routine
Before planning your own circuit training routine, it is important to understand exactly what you want from your routine. Are you looking to lose weight or get fit? Are you looking to improve your overall health and reduce the risk of future chronic disease? Do you need a low-impact or high-impact routine? Are you planning to build on your routine in the future? Do you have any favorite exercises you want to include? Do you have any exercises you want or need to avoid?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start to form your personal circuit routine. Remember that you can make it as intensive as you want.
- 6 exercises – Treadmills, Press-ups, Squat Jumps (forward astride), Sit-ups (bent knees, feet on the ground), Squat Thrusts, Bench Dips
- 8 exercises – Treadmills, Press-ups, Squat Jumps (forward astride), Sit-ups (bent knees, feet on the ground), Squat Thrusts, Bench Dips, Shuttle Runs, Back Extension Chest Rises
- 10 exercises – Sit Ups, Step-Ups, Press-Ups, Squats, Dorsal Presses, Shuttle Runs, Seated Dips, Burpees, Bent Arm Pullovers, Straddle Jumps
For each of the circuit sets, you should start with 20 to 30 seconds at each station with no more than 30 seconds of rest between each station.
Benefits of Circuit Training
Circuit training is a very versatile exercise routine. It can be adjusted to accommodate any fitness or health needs and can be catered to busy lives. This training can be done at home, in a gym, or even at a park. Once you’ve become comfortable with your circuit training routine, you can ramp it up at your own speed. Easy ways to intensify your routine are shortening time intervals, boosting the intensity, or doing a backward circuit.
Watch circuit training here:
In general, most circuit training routines are medium-intensity workouts, but they can be adjusted to fit any intensity level. It targets all areas of the body, even the core. Furthermore, specific circuit training routines can be designed to focus more on some parts than others if needed. It focuses on aerobics, flexibility, and strength, and it can be however low-impact or high-impact you want it to be.
Variations of Circuit Training
There are a number of variations in circuit training. These variations provide the adaptability that the training needs to be able to fit a variety of situations and needs.
- Duplication – Two participants are paired together in order to simultaneously complete the same circuit routine.
- Triplication – Three intensity levels of one circuit routine are laid out – easy, medium, and hard. Each participant chooses his intensity and completes it.
- Split Circuit – Participants move through a predetermined circuit course by choosing the order they do the stations in.
- Shaped Circuit – Exercises for different muscle groups are laid out in three groups with each group represented by a triangle or a square.
- Chalking Circuit – Each participant completes the circuit and writes how many repetitions he completed for each station. The following participant tries to beat the the preceding scores.
- Coupling Circuit – Like the chalking circuit, but instead of one participant counting his repetitions, a couple goes through together and adds their repetitions together before recording them for the next couple to beat.
- Hazard Circuit – There is an obstacle to be completed between each circuit.
- Work or Jog – One participant works on the circuit while the other jogs.
- Overtaking – Each participant starts the circuit one after the other and tries to pass up the participants in front of them.
Team Circuit – Teams are formed. One team performs the circuit while the other one rests. They try to beat each other’s times and repetitions.