Circuit training was developed in the 1950’s and is similar to interval training in that the workload on the body varies during the circuit. A typical circuit combines both strength and cardiovascular exercises and is therefore an excellent way to improve both aspects of your fitness at the same time.
A typical circuit involves around ten or so ‘stations’ where a person completes a certain exercise at each station for a set period of time, before moving on to the next station. At each station there is a different exercise which is selected depending on what benefits you are looking to achieve from that particular circuit, but a typical circuit will have bodyweight exercises such as press ups, sit ups, squat thrusts and resistance exercises such as barbell curls, shoulder presses and pull ups.
The idea is that every station is visited during the circuit so all ten exercises are completed. A circuit can last as long as you want it to. It could end when the complete circuit has been completed once, twice or even three times, or when a set time has been reached, although typically thirty minutes.
Circuits can range from the very basic, such as a running around a sports hall with a person calling out different exercises which are then completed for sixty seconds before continuing to run, or the very complex, where a circuit is designed for a very specific sport where each station is focused on building strength and endurance for that particular sport. Studies have shown that circuit training is the most effective way to build cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance.
What are the advantages?
The obvious advantage is that there is an infinite way that a circuit can be designed, so circuit training can benefit everyone, no matter what their chosen sport. You also do not need expensive gym equipment. A simple circuit needs only some space as all exercise stations can be bodyweight exercises. You can also suit the circuit to the space you have, whether it be a small gymnasium or a football pitch.
Another big advantage of circuit training is that it is normally completed in a group. Each person starts and finishes at a different station and a group session means that you can motivate each other.
What are the Disadvantages?
The main disadvantage of circuits is that they do not build bulk if that is your aim. Circuits are primarily aimed at improving cardiovascular and muscular endurance and are carried out at a high intensity with high repetitions and little resistance. To build bulk during circuit training, try reducing the number of repetitions at each station and use heavier weights or greater resistance. Circuit training is a great way to get fit so be sure to include them in your routine.