Circuit Training: The Basics And Benefits

Circuit training refers to doing exercises in the gym, or in a park, on several different types of exercise apparatuses, moving from one to the next without resting. Doing this keeps your heart rate elevated to an efficient fat-burning level.  For example, you might do bicep curls at one station and then move to a tricep machine the next. By not resting, you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time.

Circuit training is great for losing weight quickly and not getting bored with your workout (you won’t have time!). And, it is a time-saver in that you can exercise on perhaps five or six machines efficiently in 30 minutes, and not have to spend hours in the gym to get back into shape.

This kind of exercise is appropriate if you are healthy. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, or eye disorders such as glaucoma, get a medical clearance from your doctor first.

The Basics

You can do circuit training in a gym where there are several types of exercise machines, or in a park where there are apparatuses, such as a high bar for chin-ups or a rope to climb.

Working in these environments, you move from one station to the next. For example, you might do the leg press for two set of 10 repetitions in the gym, and move immediately to a hamstring curl machine for another two sets.

In the park, you might do one set of 10 chin-ups and then move to the hanging rope to climb up as far as you can (or to the top!).

The Benefits

Doing circuit training keeps your heart elevated so that you get an efficient cardiovascular workout: the lungs and heart are working steadily.

Exercising this way, you also work the opposing pairs of muscles, so that you create a symmetrical body and do not end up with muscle imbalances or injuries. An example is working both the biceps and triceps of the arm.

In the gym, by doing the leg press and hamstring curl machine, you work the front of the thighs (quadriceps) and also the back of the thighs (hamstrings). Exercising in this way will keep you from overdeveloping one set of muscles. Were you to only work the front of your thighs (quads), you would create a muscle imbalance and become “quad-dominant.”


Circuit training is not for pregnant women, as the heart rate may go above the recommended level of 140 heart beats per minute. Pregnant women should not exercise strenuously, as it can cause them to overheat and endanger the baby.

As circuit training is nearly non-stop, it is also not always appropriate for anyone with a family history of cardiovascular disease or eye disorders. Check with your physician first.

Get Started

You can try a bit of circuit training right now and see if it suits your temperature. Go outside to an area where there is a staircase you can use. Start by walking, not running, up and down the stairs for five minutes. Next, stand in place and do old-fashioned jumping jacks for another minute.

Continue by doing as many push-ups as you can for another minute. The last is to walk up and down the stairs slowly as your cool-down, for another five minutes.

Congratulations! You’ve just completed your first session of circuit training.


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