Circuit training is doing a group of 4 to 10 exercises with little or no rest between exercises. For example, you might do squats for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, do bench presses for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, jog for 15 seconds, rest 15 seconds, and finish with jumping jacks for 15 seconds. This is one circuit. 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. You should not work the same part of your body 2 days in a row. 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 stay active for a longer time without getting tired.
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 do a variety of exercises.
You can make your workouts as hard or as easy as you like by changing the amount of effort and how long you rest between exercises.
What are some tips and precautions?
Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before you start your exercise program.
Start each workout with a 5-minute warm-up such as slow 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. At first, you might need more rest between each exercise. As you get in better shape, you can shorten your rest periods.
For a harder workout, jog in place instead of resting between exercises.
Give your body a break between workouts. Because circuit training can be intense, donâ€™t work out 2 days in a row.
Every several weeks change the exercises in your circuit, or do different circuits in one workout. You could also change the number of repetitions, or the amount of weight that you use, but donâ€™t change both at the same time.
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 training workouts. The first workout can be done at home and the other can be done on equipment at the gym:
Circuit-training workout #1
Warm-up (fast walking) – 5 minutes
Jumping jacks – 2 minutes
Push-ups – 1 minute
Jogging – 5 minutes
Abdominal crunches – 2 minutes
Squats – 1 minute
Pull-ups – 1 minute
Lunges – 30 seconds each leg
Circuit-training workout #2
Warm-up (treadmill walking) – 5 minutes
Leg press machine – 15 repetitions (reps)
Lat pull-down machine – 15 reps
Jogging on treadmill – 5 minutes
Squats with dumbbells – 15 reps
Biceps curls – 15 reps
Hamstring curls – 15 reps
Abdominal crunches – 30 reps
Cycling on stationary bike – 5 minutes
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-30 Last reviewed: 2014-06-30
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.
Circuit Training: References
Circuit Training Basics. The American Council on Exercise. Accessed June 2014 from