In this episode, we explore how to circuit train at the gym and at home. We cover why circuit training can help you lose weight, build muscle and add variation to your workouts. Learn what type of sports would benefit from circuit training workouts and how to build and effective circuit workout.
How to Circuit Train at the Gym
- Circuit training: overlooked method of achieving fitness and body composition goals. For the average person or for adding stimulus and/or variety it can provide a lot of benefits.
- Perform one exercise after another in a row without a break. E.g. 1 minute of push-ups, 1 minute of squats, 1 minute of sit ups and 1 minute of star jumps. Usually set up in a circle with different stations for different exercises.
- Circuit training may just focus on weights or may include cardio as well.
- Crossfit is a type of circuit training: go from one exercise to the next as fast as you can in a certain amount of rounds until time is up.
- No rules of what the circuit should contain.
What is circuit training?
- Short workouts from 10mins to 1 hour. Efficient for busy people. Can be intense: work on fitness levels, can help people lean up and increase strength if strength exercises are included.
- Improves fitness and muscular endurance, which is beneficial for people who play sports.
- Can be carried out anywhere: at the gym with weights and equipment or at home, in a park or at the office!
- There’s no one best workout to do. There are many circuit variations. The best one depends on the individual and the goals they’re trying to achieve.
Can circuit training help you lose weight?
- Any form of exercise can help with weight loss, particularly when the person goes from no training to training.
- Can burn a lot of calories in a short period of time due to its intensity.
- A combination of cardio, resistance training and some core work will assist with weight loss. Keep 1-2 minutes for each station for 30-40 minutes with no rest between stations.
- Circuit training can help build muscle especially if you’re doing strength-based circuits. Don’t have to have long stations e.g. 30 second stations.
- Can just focus on one area in a circuit e.g. the lower legs to intensify the workout. Can still throw some cardio in as active recovery to work on fitness levels at the same time.
- Giant and super sets help build bigger muscle (see previous podcast).
- Popular for women wanting to lose weight to look toned but not wanting to get huge.
How to construct your own circuit workout
- How much time do you have to work out in general? Try not to over-commit to training because you need to have realistic goals.
- Set a time limit then break it down into stations. Decide how long the stations will go for and then decide if it will be used for weight loss or muscle building (where you might concentrate on upper and lower body or split with a push-pull movement where you train chest and back with a pushing then pulling movement). You then decide on the stations that can be achieved in your time e.g. 10 stations of 1 minute each or 5 stations worth 1 minute each repeated twice if you have 10 minutes available.
- Upper body exercises: Push-ups, tricep dips, bicep curls, chin-ups.
- Pick if you’re going to do single-jointed exercises or compound-joint exercises. Listen to the previous podcast for more information about this.
- Choose the environment you will train in. In a gym there’s minimal space so there’s not much room to set up a large circle of stations or people might steal your equipment during the circuit! Pick portable equipment so you can move it and keep it close to you or train with a friend to share the equipment with. Possible to feel self-conscious completing a circuit at the gym when everyone else is doing weight.
- Go into the gym with a well planned out circuit. Use minimal equipment or split circuit into 4 or 5 exercises at a time so you’re not hogging equipment.
How to circuit train at home
- At home: it’s much easier then at the gym! You can use your body weight (functional training) and there’s lots of space. You can train at any time with no constraints and you can watch TV and listen to any music you want!
- A circuit may include; push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and sit-ups: body weight exercises. You may want to buy a Swiss ball or hand weights, as they are more than enough to get started with a hard circuit!
What type of athletes use circuit training?
- Crossfit: choose 3-4 exercises they repeat for a certain period of time and doing as many repetitions in this time. E.g. box jumps, handstand push-ups, farmer’s walks, sprints, chin-ups in a sequence with no break in between.
- Strength training helps avoid injury as it keeps ligaments and muscles strong.
- Team sports would benefit from strength training to increase fitness and muscular endurance and the same goes for triathletes.
- Triathlete strength training circuit might include; clams, lunges, one-legged squats, chin-ups, standing rows in a circuit are good exercises to build up the swimmers back and the strong runners legs for triathletes.
- Body builders can use circuit training; the body likes variation and stimulus. It also helps with active recovery and improves fitness levels (just lifting weights might not make you fit).
- Circuit training is great for muscle maintenance on holidays. Muscles are highly adaptive; takes one week of not training to lose a significant amount of muscle mass. The fitter we are the harder we fall; athletes lose more muscle mass as a percentage compared to people who are not fit.
- Aerobics instructors love circuit training to provide variation in the workout.