Circuit training is a great way to incorporate resistance training into one’s regime. Circuit training is where multiple exercises are completed in rotation. This enables a person to target multiple muscles groups within one exercise session. Circuit training can be completed in both short periods of time or long periods, which means it is ideal for all schedules. The exercises included in circuits can vary in difficulty, making them appropriate for both beginners and the elite.
Resistance training has been found to have multiple health benefits for all participants. For example, it was found that those who had chronic heart failure who participated in resistance training had an increase in aerobic capacity, muscle strength and quality of life (Giuliano, Karahalios, Neil, Allen & Levinger, 2017). Resistance training completed in the form of a circuit has been found to have the same benefits with a focus on increasing strength, cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition (Gettman & Pollock, 1981). Circuit programs focus on endurance training, therefore, high repetitions are completed at a lower weight. This form of training also allows for more variety per session; keeping motivation high and preventing boredom.
An example of a circuit program is:
2 rotations of:
- 15 Squats
- 15 Bent over rows
- 15 Push ups
- 15 Triceps dips
- 15 Curl and press’
- 15 Burpees
- 20 Russian Twists
- 1minute Skipping
There are so many different options in how to organise your circuit training, it can be completed on a timer, by repetition or by muscle failure. Also this form of exercise can be completed as an individual session, or in a group setting. The choice is yours!
Circuit training does not have to be resistance training focused as you can complete a cardio circuit such as:
- 500m row Rowing
- 1km Cycling
- 500m x-trainer
- 100 Stairs
- 3minutes skipping
Cardio Circuits have different benefits to resistance circuits as aerobic training does compared to resistance training. It has been found that improvements in VO2, cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition occurred in aerobic circuits (Mosher, Underwood, Ferguson & Arnold, 1994). Increases in upper and lower body strength did occur, however not to the same degree as resistance training. Therefore, the best circuit has both an aerobic component and a resistance component (Takeshima, Rogers, Islam, Yamauchi, Watanabe & Okada, 2004).
Gettman, L.R., & Pollock M. L. 1981. Circuit weight training: A critical review of its physiological benefits. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 9(1), 44-60.
Giuliano, C., Karahalios, A., Neil, C., Allen, J., & Levinger, I. 2017. The effects of resistance training on muscle strength, quality of life and aerobic capacity in patients with chronic heart failure – A meta-analysis. International Journal of Cardiology, 227, 413-423.
Mosher, P.E., Underwood, S.A., Ferguson, M.A. & Arnold, R.O. 1994. Effects of 12 weeks of aerobic circuit training on aerobic capacity, muscular strength and body composition in college-age women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 8(3).
Takeshima, N., Rogers, M.E., Islam, M.M., Yamauchi, T., Watanabe, E., & Okada, A. 2004. Effect of concurrent aerobic and resistance circuit exercise training on fitness in older adults. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 93(1), 173-182