Wondering which type of training is right for you? Let’s take a look at the many benefits of circuit training and see how it may be the trick to taking your fitness to the next level.
What is Circuit Training?
Before we explore the benefits of circuit training, let’s be sure we’re on the same page in terms of what it is. By definition, circuit training is fairly straightforward. It’s a circuit, or series, of exercises, where you spend anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes on each exercise and then move on to the next one. Typically, a circuit includes 6-10 movements that target different muscle groups, and that are performed continuously, with little to no rest in between. You can do one circuit or several circuits, depending on your fitness level and your allotted workout time.
Is Circuit Training Strength or Cardio?
The answer is, it can be one or the other or both. Most circuit training routines include a mix of cardio and strength, but there’s no defining rule. And in terms of which muscle groups benefit from circuit training, you can tackle a full-body workout or tailor your session to focus on lower body, upper body, or core.
Benefits of Circuit Training
So far, this sounds pretty good! A closer look at the benefits of circuit training clearly shows why this type of training is something nearly everyone should try.
Efficiency. Circuit training is a highly time-efficient way to train. Have only 20 minutes at the gym? Do a quick circuit of 10 two-minute exercises. You’ll feel far better afterward than if you skipped your workout entirely, worried that you’re short on time. Even the longest circuit training workout will be completed in an hour or less.
Flexibility. Circuit training is one of the most flexible types of training, because you can mix up the exercises into new combinations every single time you work out. You can change the ratio of cardio to strength, you can target specific muscle groups or address your whole body, you can do shorter or longer circuits, and you can do a single circuit or multiple circuits. The bottom line? You’re unlikely to ever get bored or lose your motivation to train.
Reduced injury risk. Because circuit training gives you the flexibility to target different muscle groups, it also provides an opportunity to rest muscles that are fatigued or overtaxed, while still working out. This helps prevent injuries and overtraining—things every athlete hopes to avoid!
All-around fitness. The variety inherent in circuit training means that you’ll end up improving your overall health. You’ll strengthen the muscles in your upper body, lower body, and core, plus give your bone density a healthy boost (resistance training is key in preventing osteoporosis). You’ll also enhance your cardiovascular system by getting your heart rate up and increasing blood circulation, which can help promote weight loss, improve sleep quality, and reduce your risk of certain diseases.
Ramped-up metabolism. Circuit training sessions are fast-paced, high-intensity workouts, with little rest. Similar to HIIT workouts, circuit training gives your metabolism a major boost—not only during the workout, but for several hours afterward as well. This results in a higher caloric burn, leading to lean and toned muscles and faster results than with steady-state workouts.
Train anywhere. You can do circuit training at the gym, but you don’t have to. In fact, you don’t even need equipment to reap the benefits of circuit training—body-weight strength moves and high-heart-rate cardio exercises are enough. This makes circuit training a perfect, portable exercise tool for anyone who travels frequently or can’t get to a gym.
Social fun. Love working out with a buddy, your BFF, or an entire group of friends? Circuit training is a great way to get fit together in a fun, social, challenging, and healthy environment. The more the merrier and the greater the motivation to stick to a regular circuit-training routine.
Ready to give circuit training a try? Here are a few sample workouts, courtesy of our BlenderBottle Trainer Team: