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The Benefits of Circuit Training

Exercise Like the Pros Do

-- By Lonnie Soloff, Cleveland Indians' Head Trainer
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Circuit training is a workout routine that combines cardiovascular fitness and resistance training. It was first proposed in the late 1950s as a method to develop general fitness. The initial routines were arranged in a circle, alternating between different muscle groups (hence the name circuit training). By allowing only a short rest interval of 30-90 seconds between stations, cardiovascular fitness is gained along with the benefits of resistance training.

When developing a circuit training routine, a wide variety of exercises and equipment can be utilized. Much of the equipment is relatively inexpensive and includes surgical tubing, jump rope, your own body weight, dumbbells, medicine balls, physioballs and weight training machines. A circuit can consist of as few as six stations to as many as 15 stations based on the goals and pre-training levels of the participants.

Circuit training stations are generally sequenced in a way to alternate between muscle groups, which allows for adequate recovery. The rest interval between stations should be between 30-90 seconds and 1-3 minutes between circuits. A typical gym has several strength training machines and workstations, which enables the creation of several circuits. This benefit of variability challenges the skills of the participant and keeps them interested from session to session.

Circuit training plays an integral role in the offseason workouts of many professional athletes. It serves as a way to maintain general fitness while avoiding the high physical demands of in-season sport. Circuit training also serves as a segue to higher level strengthening programs in these athletes.

The following circuits are examples that can be used by the participant with several years of weight training experience. The cornerstones of these circuits are exercises that stress multitude and core musculature. A participant should always consult with a physician before beginning a fitness program.

Check out two circuits for both the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels at the 30-Minute Workouts page.

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About The Author

Lonnie Soloff Lonnie Soloff
Lonnie has a master's degree in physical therapy and is the head physical therapist for the Cleveland Indians.

Member Comments

  • Good to know. - 7/20/2014 6:22:23 AM
  • ABIGAILASARE
    Is there a a difference between circuit training and interavale training? - 4/17/2014 10:31:30 AM
  • Can anyone tell me if you do only one set before moving on the circuit, or do you do all the sets before moving on?Would appreciate if you go to my spark page to tell me, as I doubt I would find your message here. Thanks. Currahee68 - 8/4/2013 3:17:45 AM
  • These comments were ages ago. There must be lots of info on the Internet about quantifying and optimizing Curves' workouts. Just keep doing it!! - 1/27/2013 1:36:53 PM
  • Good Morning :) I just discovered my gym's Circuit Training area. I have been doing it for about 2 weeks and I love how it makes me feel! I have a question though and I can't seem to find the answer. How often can/should we do circuit training each week? Is it considered both strength and cardio? Thank you for your help :) - 9/22/2012 9:55:29 AM
  • LYNDA519
    I am in my 30-day trial with Curves and I am loving it. I can feel the difference very quickly. For me, it will strengthen me and help me to build up my stamina so I can add more of other activities. - 5/11/2012 3:24:48 PM
  • I joined Planet Fitness and do their PF Express circuit throughout the week. I thought I was doing it pretty good until I met with a trainer who totally amped up my workout! It was hard as could be b/c I am so out of shape, but I enjoyed every minute of it! So much so that I will be going back again for another session with Eric. I didn't even now I had it in me. I was an advid Curves member for years and lost 40 pounds by doing my Curves workout and eating better. I moved jobs so it was no longer convenient and I wanted some other options other than just the circuit. Curves was great for me at the time and I saw results there too. - 3/28/2012 1:54:37 PM
  • I joined Planet Fitness and do their PF Express circuit throughout the week. I thought I was doing it pretty good until I met with a trainer who totally amped up my workout! It was hard as could be b/c I am so out of shape, but I enjoyed every minute of it! So much so that I will be going back again for another session with Eric. I didn't even now I had it in me. I was an advid Curves member for years and lost 40 pounds by doing my Curves workout and eating better. I moved jobs so it was no longer convenient and I wanted some other options other than just the circuit. Curves was great for me at the time and I saw results there too. - 3/28/2012 1:54:37 PM
  • CLTEACHT1
    I'm going to ask about circui traing at my gym. Sounds effective. - 7/26/2011 11:45:59 AM
  • I'm still relatively young and vigorous at 40 and I consider the Curves circuit to be the MINIMUM activity I need to do. I have not been a member long at this writing, but it gets my heart rate up if I push myself. If I do it in the morning, I can alternate activities in the evening to augment it. I can't wait until I get my Smartcard so I can really see what's going on! - 5/3/2011 6:17:29 PM
  • Circuit training works!! I joined a Bootcamp fitness circuit training class and it's kicking my booty! Love it! Variety is the spice of life! - 1/12/2011 12:09:48 PM
  • NINJA_SMOO
    I've been going to a boxing/kickboxing themed circuit gym a little over a month now and I LOVE it. - 11/22/2010 12:08:00 PM
  • I only just discovered almost all of this is about CURVES.

    That is great PLEASE, OH PLEASE do an article on CURVES and show us how to OPTIMISE what we are doing .

    We need better advice and options to incorporate our fitness minutes in to our Spark fitness program.

    I feel I get next to nothing on SPARK for doing EVERYTHING with CURVES. - 11/21/2010 10:58:40 AM
  • For older people and the non athletes the circuit training at the CURVES gym works great for me. Pat in Maine. - 11/21/2010 10:51:30 AM
  • THEFABULOUSMRSK
    It kicks my butt everytime! I LOVE IT! - 11/21/2010 10:14:05 AM
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