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by Collin Stark November 17, 2021 5 min read

In this article, we'll talk about all things related to circuit training.

We'll explain what it is, what its benefits are, and we'll even share some different examples of circuit training workouts.

What is Circuit Training?

A circuit training workout is a series of exercises that you do back-to-back with little or no rest between each set. A string of exercises is called a circuit, and you do X number of circuit sets with only a minute or two of rest between each of those sets.

For example, your circuit might be three sets of 8-10 jackknife sit-ups, diamond push-ups, planks, and pull-ups. Your goal is to execute the desired reps of one exercise, then move directly into the next exercise. Typically, you will repeat the exercise circuit for multiple sets or for an allotted amount of time.

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When it comes to the realm of circuit training, there are a few popular styles that are consistently used, such as:

EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) - you complete an exercise or series of exercises for a predetermined amount of reps or times at the top of each minute.

AMRAP (As Many Reps as Possible) - a series of exercises that are done on repeat until the time cap is reached.

Tabata - short workouts, only lasting 4 minutes, but very intense. You are doing 20 seconds of a movement and then only resting 10 seconds before doing the next movement.

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) - can classify as EMOMs and AMRAPs, but are also their own style of circuit training. You can use this for cardio, such as sprints, or a circuit-style workout. They are typically 30-45 seconds of intense work, with anywhere from 15-90 seconds of rest.

Circuit training is fast, tiring, and effective.

Benefits of circuit training exercises

There are a lot of reasons why someone might want to do circuit training. Here are some of the most popular reasons why people choose them...

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1. Time-efficient

Over the years, I have been told thousands of times that "time" is the reason that so many people do not try to improve their health & results. One benefit of circuit training workouts is that they do not take much time at all to complete. This is because you're moving from one set to another over and over again with little to no rest in between. That means you're getting through your workout faster. So, if you only have time for a 30-minute workout, then a circuit training workout could be a great option for you!

2. Improves strength and cardio

When you do anaerobic exercises, like weight lifting, you can build muscle. When you do aerobic exercises like running, you strengthen your heart and lungs. When you do circuit training, you're combining the two kinds of exercise together and getting the best of both worlds. Quick cycling makes your entire workout aerobic, while the individual exercises are anaerobic.

3. Improves mental stimulation

The best kind of exercise is the kind that you'll stick with. If you like running, you'll probably keep doing it. If you don't like it, you'll probably abandon it quickly. A lot of people find circuit training to be mentally stimulating, because you're constantly moving from exercise to exercise. This mentally stimulating element of circuit training makes these kinds of workouts interesting and exciting to a lot of people.

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4. Can be done everywhere

Most circuit training exercises require very little equipment and very little room. Combine the low barrier to entry with the small time commitment, and you've got yourself a workout routine that you can do almost anywhere. In your basement ... at the gym ... in your office ... believe it or not, you can probably circuit train in these spots too! Even if you only have yourself and want to get better, you can do an awesome bodyweight workout!

5. Burns a lot of calories

The aerobic elements of circuit training workouts force you to stay active for longer periods of time. The longer you move, the more calories you burn. The more calories you burn, the more successful your workout will be. If you're looking to burn calories while building up your strength, a circuit training workout is a great option.

6. Lots of variety

Lastly, circuit training routines aren't written in stone. You can pick a handful of different exercises and get a full-body workout from them for as long or as little as you'd like. Tired of one specific circuit? Switch up the exercises. You lose none of the benefits, but you keep your workouts fun and interesting.

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7. Examples of circuit training exercises

Here are three different examples of circuit training workouts. Each workout routine consists of one or more circuits, and each circuit contains multiple exercises. The idea is that you'd complete a circuit, rest for a minute or two, and repeat the circuit. You do one set of each exercise in each circuit. In other words, if the circuit calls for you to do three sets of 8 reps, then you do 8 reps of each exercise in the circuit and repeat the whole thing 3 times.

Circuit workout #1

• 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps of push-ups, curls, squats
• 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps of side raises, deadlifts, jackknives
• 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps of kickbacks, rows, single-leg touches

Circuit workout #2

• 5 Rounds
• Wall Ball – 20 Reps - 20 pounds/14 pounds or Beginner 14 pounds/10 pounds
• Bear Crawl – 30 yards or 30 seconds
• Toes-2-Bar or Knee Raises – 10 Reps
• Ski Erg or Cardio – 10 calories/8 calories or 30 seconds
• DB Power Clean – 10 Reps
• Rest – 1 minute

AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible)

• Set a 12-minute timer and do as many rounds as possible
• 20 Air Squats
• 20 Push-Ups
• 10 Reverse Lunges (10 each leg)
• 15 V-Ups
• 20 Mountain Climbers (20 each leg)

These circuits are varied by means of the amount of equipment you need to do them. The first one doesn't need much equipment, and the third one needs a lot. This is just to demonstrate how varied they can be. Feel free to build a circuit around your specific fitness goals, but make sure it's challenging you and your abilities.

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Collin Stark
Collin Stark

NASM Certified Personal Trainer NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist NASM Certified Nutrition Coach