Most of us have a lot of demands on our time, from work to family. So when are you supposed to find time to exercise and take care of your body? Circuit training is a great solution because it allows you to complete a full-body workout in about 30 minutes. If you want to learn more about the benefits of circuit training, keep reading.
As a certified personal trainer in San Francisco, I am passionate about helping people meet their fitness goals and build healthy habits to last a lifetime. While working as a medical researcher, I realized that most people don’t know how to incorporate exercise and nutrition into their daily lives, even if their doctor recommends it. I founded AP Wellness to provide personalized workouts and fitness advice to people who are ready to invest in their health but don’t know where to start.
What is Circuit Training?
A circuit training workout usually includes 6-10 different exercise stations. You spend 30-60 seconds at each station and move on to the next as quickly as possible. You can also set a target rep count and move on once you’ve hit it. At the end of the circuit, you’ll take a longer rest before repeating each of the exercises. Depending on your time, you’ll typically repeat the circuit 3-4 times before cooling down.
Circuit training is highly versatile. You can alternate muscle groups at each station or focus on the same one for a few exercises to build a superset. You can also create circuit workouts to focus on a specific skill, such as agility or building cardio endurance.
Proven Circuit Training Benefits
Medical researchers have spent a lot of time exploring the benefits of circuit training in the past few years. They’ve studied everyone from children to the elderly and explored how circuit training can help with specific health conditions. Here are a few of the benefits they’ve found:
1. Provides a Full-Body Workout
The best circuit training sessions will incorporate upper and lower body exercises. This is why you can keep moving throughout the circuit. Different parts of your body get a chance to rest during different exercises, which is helpful if you can’t work out every day. Rather than focusing an entire workout on arms or legs, you can hit all your major muscle groups multiple times throughout the week.
2. Prevents Boredom
We’ve all had moments where we’ve fallen into an exercise rut. Maybe you’ve run out of ideas for new exercises or just don’t have the time or energy to create a fun workout for yourself. Circuit training provides a straightforward model that you can plug different exercises into each time you’re at the gym. If you don’t feel bored with your workouts, you’re more likely to stick with your exercise program.
3. Suitable for All Ages and Abilities
The medical journal Aging and Disease found that circuit training improves muscle strength and body composition in the elderly, and other scientific studies have shown benefits for school-aged children.
You also don’t have to be at a certain fitness level to benefit from circuit training. There are plenty of ways to increase or decrease your challenge during the workout, from switching out weights to taking longer breaks between exercises.
4. Promotes Weight Loss
Because circuit training keeps your heart rate elevated by limiting rest time, you’ll burn more calories than a traditional strength training workout. This analysis in Obesity Review found that circuit training effectively decreased body weight in over 800 adults. Weight loss is also affected by your sleep patterns, nutrition, and underlying health conditions. If you are working toward weight loss, circuit training should only be one part of your strategy.
5. Improves Muscular Endurance
Circuit training lends itself to lighter weights and higher rep counts, which build slow-twitch muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are the first to engage when you lift a weight but don’t have as much power as fast-twitch fibers, which will take over to finish the rep when you use heavier weights. Building strength in your slow-twitch fibers allows you to hold contractions longer and prevents muscle fatigue.
6. Doesn’t Require Special Equipment
You can do circuit training workouts in a gym with equipment or plan an effective bodyweight workout at home. ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal offers guidance for planning a simple circuit workout and includes a sample bodyweight exercise plan.
7. Is Time Efficient
Since you are completing many reps and taking minimal breaks, an effective circuit workout doesn’t need to be more than 20-30 minutes. And you don’t even have to drive to the gym to complete it, so it’s perfect for busy parents or individuals who can only sneak in a quick workout after a day at the office.
8. Builds Cardiovascular Fitness
Circuit training combines strength and cardio since your heart rate isn’t allowed to come down between exercises. Over time, your heart will become more efficient at pumping blood, reducing strain on the muscle. You’ll also notice increased lung capacity, allowing you to work longer without fatigue.
9. Improves your Mood
Regular exercise reduces stress and improves your mood. Though this applies to all forms of exercise since exercise releases endorphins, circuit training combines all the benefits of strength and cardio training in a short time. As a result, you’ll leave your workout feeling accomplished and less stressed.
Get Custom Circuit Training Workouts with AP Wellness
Though you can plan circuit training workouts independently, working with a personal trainer ensures that your workout plans align with your fitness goals. Planning a workout can be daunting. It may even cut into the short time you have to exercise. Online or in-person training with AP Wellness provides custom workouts that fit your lifestyle. Better yet, you get nutritional advice, guidance on emotional wellness, and behavior modification strategies to build a holistic wellness plan.
Not ready to commit to personal training? I’ve created a free circuit workout template that will cut your planning time in half.