Fitness Articles

The Benefits of Circuit Training

Exercise Like the Pros Do


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.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

Member Comments

  • I love the circuit at Planet Fitness. It's already planned and people can't hog the machines. A timer is on the ceiling to remind everyone to move on to the next machine or stair step.
  • I enjoy doing circuit training.
  • Doing the circuit always feels like I've really worked my body.
  • Having video with training link would be helpful.
  • Circuit training is efficient!
  • I do this at my Ornage Theory class
  • Well done. I must use my resistance bands more!
  • This article needs to be updated. This is seriously outdated information
  • CLAY10237
    After getting bored with trying the usual changes to my workout routine (at a fitness center) I've decided recently to "circuit train". Wow! What a workout! Each workout session, before I start, I have a plan on where I'll start and which exercise will follow which exercise. For now, I'm doing two sets of each and then one set of each, with about 10 seconds between sets and 30 seconds between exercise. Nothing complicated. It just takes a little planning.
    Interval training means the intensity of the particular exercise goes up and down per set or session. Look at the treadmill, power bicycle or stair stepper for an example of interval training.
    We did circuit training in my college fitness class. It was timed with some fast paced music with around 60 of us in class. Half would be working on a step bench and when the music changed they would go to the next weight machine (all machines and steps were numbered) and the ones on the machine would go to the next step. You just worked as hard as you could for the few minutes. Every muscle was worked out along with cardio. The whole workout was 30 minutes. You were responsible for tracking number of reps and weight used so that you could see your progress.
    Is there a a difference between circuit training and interavale training?
  • 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
  • These comments were ages ago. There must be lots of info on the Internet about quantifying and optimizing Curves' workouts. Just keep doing it!!

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.