Circuit Training: What Can It Do For You?

Circuit training is a great exercise strategy that combines both strength training and cardio. In a nutshell, circuit training involves doing one set of each exercise (in a series of many exercises) with little rest in between. Because circuit training involves moving quickly between exercises, it gets your heart pumping – and hence, the cardiovascular benefits.

Circuit training may be a good fit if:

  • You are looking to build strength and endurance – and not muscle size
  • You are a beginner or have moderate fitness goals
  • You appreciate structure in your workout routine
  • You don’t have a lot of time to exercise

Most circuits involve 10 – 12 different exercises and often make use of free weights (i.e., dumbbells), body weight exercises (i.e., push-ups) and machines. A typical circuit training workout lasts about 30 minutes. While many people perform circuits in the gym (sometimes even in groups – see picture), circuit training can also be done at home with minimal equipment – making it an attractive option for home exercisers.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of circuit training both in terms of strength training and cardiovascular results. When it comes to strength training, research supports the notion that circuit training is effective for endurance and strength improvements – but not large increases in muscle mass. If you’re looking to add serious bulk, circuit training is not for you. Stick to traditional lifting.

When it comes to cardiovascular improvements, circuit training is considered a low to moderate form of aerobic training. In other words, traditional cardio workouts – like interval training on a treadmill – yield much greater results. To maximize cardiovascular benefits from circuit training, minimize the rest time between exercises. Set up all the equipment in advance.

Bottom line: For more advanced exercise enthusiasts, and for people looking to make significant increases in muscle size, circuit training isn’t the best fit. But if you crave structure in your workout and are new to exercising or looking for gains in strength and endurance – then you should give circuit training a try.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

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