Circuit Training Workouts

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Circuit Training Workouts 1-1-1

Circuit training is a method of training that combines resistance training with aerobic training. This type of training provides an increase in muscular strength and endurance along with an increase in aerobic fitness.

An exercise “circuit” is a set of resistance exercises done one after the other in relatively rapid succession. When one circuit is complete, the circuit is repeated in the same order. The rest periods between exercises are typically very short (≈15-30 seconds). The weightlifting improves your muscular strength and endurance, while the limited rest and quick pace improve your aerobic endurance.

Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages, how to choose between circuit vs traditional weight training, and what core elements make up circuit training workouts. Additionally, find two circuit workouts below.

 


 

An Introduction to Circuit Training Workouts

Who Should Consider Circuit Training?

This type of training is a good option for men beginning resistance training, men looking to lose fat, and older men not interested in resistance training with free weights. It is also great for anyone with limited time to work out because it provides both resistance and aerobic training in a short time period.

What are the Advantages of Circuit Workouts?

There are many reasons why it is beneficial for men. Circuit training workouts:

  • Shorten gym time and are more time efficient.
  • Improve your strength and your aerobic fitness.
  • Burn more calories than regular workouts in a shorter period of time.
  • Fully body routines work the entire body in 1 session.

What are the Disadvantages of Circuit Workouts?

There are several reasons why certain people prefer not to pursue this type of training. Additionally, men who desire to significantly increase strength and size should not use this type of training.

  • Compared to traditional resistance training, this type of training provides only modest strength and muscle gains will. This is due to the very short rest periods and the large number of repetitions.
  • Practically speaking, this type of training might be impossible in a crowded gym where you cannot just hop from one machine to the next.
  • Circuit training workouts require at least a moderate level of aerobic fitness prior to starting. Doing 36 sets in a period of 27 minutes is not easy.

 

How Do I Choose Between Circuit Workouts vs Traditional Weight Training Workouts?

The choice between circuit training workouts and traditional weight training workouts depends on your time limitations and fitness goals. See the table below for a comparison of the two types to help determine which type best suits you.

Circuit Training Workouts Traditional Weight Training Workouts

Time

I have very limited time to do my resistance and cardio exercises during the week. I would have to choose one or the other if I did not do circuit training.

Time is not an issue for me. I have enough time to complete both my resistance and cardio exercises during the week.

Goals

I am more interested in increasing my muscular endurance and aerobic endurance than my strength or size

I want to significantly improve my strength gains and/or significantly increase my lean body mass.

 

Elements of Circuit Training Workouts

The following gives you a breakdown of circuit training workouts. This explanation will help you to better answer the questions, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” and “How do I build my own program?” Additionally, find two circuit training workouts below.

  1. The Exercises – The first elements of circuit training workouts are the exercises. The exercises can work the whole body, the upper body, the lower body, or the core. In the example below, the program works the whole body, so all major muscle groups are involved.
  2. The Order – The order of exercises is just as important as the exercises themselves. Since there is little rest between exercises in circuit workouts, the exercises are ordered so that muscle groups are rotated. Exercises should never work the same muscle group consecutively. In the below example, the program works the total body so upper body and lower body exercises are rotated.
  3. The Intensity – The resistance level should be enough to fatigue you after 30 seconds. The resistance level will probably be the most difficult factor to figure out. Start with a medium-light weight. Perform the exercise for 30 seconds. If at the end of 30 seconds you finish without feeling fatigued, increase the weight by 5-10 lbs in the next circuit. If you cannot complete the exercise for 30 seconds, decrease the weight. Don’t worry if your first workout is not great. Everyone, even experienced lifters, has a trial-and-error period with any new workout.
  4. The Repetitions – Do as many repetitions as possible in the 30 seconds. Do not try to fly through reps though. Remember to the use controlled motions during both contraction and relaxation.
  5. The Rest – Rest should be kept at a minimum for all circuit workouts. In the above example, the rest period between sets is 15 seconds, however it can be adjusted from no rest to 1 minute between sets. The rest time between sets should be kept constant throughout any workout. Do not think it is ok to extend the rest period to 2-3 minutes. The purpose of this type of training is to work both your resistance and aerobic endurance at the same time.
  6. The Number Circuits/Workout – Always do at least 2 circuits. It is necessary to work each muscle group more than once to improve your muscular and aerobic endurance. The above example calls for 3 full circuits.
  7. The Frequency – Always do full body this type of training at least 2 times per week.

 


 

Example Circuit Training Workouts:

Workout #1: The following workout includes 12 exercises. Exercises should be performed in clockwise order. Each exercise should be performed at a resistance level that fatigues you in 30 seconds (approximately 50% of your 1 repetition max). Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, doing as many repetitions as possible within this window. Then rest for 15 – 30 seconds as you move to the next station.

Circuit Training Workouts 1-1-1

 

Workout #2: The following workout includes 12 exercises (6 exercises divided into 2 cycles). Exercises should be performed in clockwise order. Each exercise should be performed at a resistance level that fatigues you in 30 seconds (approximately 50% of your 1 repetition max). Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, doing as many repetitions as possible within this window. Then rest for 15 – 30 seconds as you move to the next station.

Circuit Training Workouts 2-1-1 Circuit Training Workouts 2-2-1

EMG Exercise Homepage: Exercise for Men

External Resources: ACE: Circuit Training Basics