If you’re looking to get in great shape, circuit training is one of the most efficient kinds of workouts you can do. It gives you the ability to get in a great sweat sesh in minimal time, helps you torch fat, and helps build lean muscle… just to name a few benefits of circuit training.
Here’s a rundown on exactly what circuit training is, and even more benefits to explain what makes it such a great workout.
What Is Circuit Training?
Circuit training involves cycling through a series of strength exercises back-to-back with little or no rest.
For example, you might perform some squats, push-ups, rows, glute bridges, and planks, rest for a minute or two… and then do it all again. You can expect to get your heart rate up, work your muscles, and head into your cooldown feeling seriously accomplished.
8 Awesome Benefits of Circuit Training
Check out these eight benefits of circuit training. Then, sign up for 600 Secs on Openfit to add some circuit-training workouts to your fitness routine today!
1. It’s Time-Efficient
Arguably the biggest benefit of circuit training is its efficiency. A single workout can last anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes (or more, if you’re feeling spicy), and allows you to simultaneously work your strength and cardio, hit every major muscle group in your body, and work toward multiple fitness goals at once, explains Openfit fitness expert Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S.
2. You Can Make It High- or Low-Impact
People have strong preferences when it comes to exercise impact. Explosive, high-impact exercises like squat jumps and burpees are great for improving total-body power while strengthening your bones and joints. So, if you love the impact, try to catch some air during the workout’s plyometric moves.
But for those with sensitive joints, these kinds of high-impact exercises can also prove painful and should often be avoided. Fortunately, you can still get in an effective circuit-training workout that’s filled low-impact moves, such as the side lunge or the inchworm exercise. And if you’re following along with a workout, you can always modify the high-impact moves by taking out the jumps to keep it gentle on your joints.
3. It Can Require Zero Gear and Minimal Space
Whether you’re performing circuit training at home, in the gym, or on-the-go, circuit training can fit the equipment and space (or lack thereof) you have available.
Bodyweight circuits tend to be the simplest way to go, but if you have access to a set of weights or resistance bands, the options of exercises you can cycle through are immense. Just keep in mind that if you’re performing circuit training in the gym, it’s important to be considerate of everyone else around. Try not to tie up several sets of weights, a strength machine, a medicine ball, and resistance bands all at once, and, if you do need to use them all, let people work between your sets.
As for space, there are plenty of exercises that can be performed in a space that’s just a few feet wide. In fact, many of the moves in 600 Secs on Openfit can be done in a tight space! Squeeze in these circuit workouts in your living room, hotel room, or an empty conference room at work.
4. It’s Never Boring
If you tend to get bored easily, rest assured that circuit training won’t let you. By performing sets of cycling circuit-training exercises back-to-back, you are never performing any one exercise for more than roughly 30 seconds to a minute. That means your body and your mind won’t have to deal with doing the same exact thing — like running on a treadmill — for your entire workout.
5. It Can Help Improve Your Endurance
“Performing exercises back-to-back without rest builds muscular endurance, which is how long your muscles can work before fatiguing,” Thieme says.
Circuit training builds your aerobic, or cardiovascular, endurance, too! “Your cardiorespiratory system has to work harder to keep up with the relentless demand for energy from your working muscles as you perform back-to-back exercises,” he says.
This can be hugely beneficial for endurance athletes, like runners or cyclists, who want to perform strength exercises in a way that will help them go harder and longer in their main sport.
6. It Can Help You Build Muscle and Get Stronger
Bodyweight circuit workouts will tax your muscles, but if you want an extra challenge, try circuit weight training. This will challenge your muscles even more to help stimulate muscle growth, Thieme says.
To build muscle with circuit training, focus on performing each exercise to fatigue before moving on to the next one, and do the circuit at least three times through. This will help guarantee you are introducing enough stress to trigger growth.
Just make sure you give each muscle sufficient rest before working it again by organizing your circuit-training exercises so you are never working the same muscle group back-to-back.
7. It Can Help You Lose Fat
Put together the high-intensity, aerobic, and strength benefits of circuit training, and fat and weight loss are natural byproducts. “Circuit training creates more mechanical and metabolic stress than steady-state exercise cardio, keeping your metabolism elevated for much longer after you work out,” Thieme says. “As a result, it can help you burn more total calories, and lose more fat.”
When you’re doing circuit training for weight loss, prioritize cycling through big, multi-joint movements such as squats, presses, deadlifts, rows, and hip thrusts, which will help you work the most muscles in a given session for the greatest calorie burn possible.
8. It Can Boost Your Mood and Energy
We would be remiss not to mention the mood- and energy-boosting benefits of circuit training: “When you challenge yourself during a high-intensity workout, your body starts pumping feel-good hormones such as endorphins to help you get through it,” Thieme explains. “Those hormones don’t evaporate as soon as you complete your last rep; they stick with you for a while, keeping your mood elevated long after you stop sweating.”
Thieme also notes that circuit training increases your stamina, endurance, and the efficiency of your energy systems to help keep your energy levels up all day long.
How Many Days a Week Should You Do Circuit Training?
You can do circuit training multiple times a week. Comprehensive circuit-training programs — like many found on Openfit — are designed to allow you to perform your circuit workouts up to five or six days per week. But as a general rule, you should plan to perform these workouts with at least one, if not two, day of rest between sessions.
Because circuit training is typically very intense, it’s important to make sure you are resting sufficiently between sessions, Thieme says. Following an expertly designed program or getting help from a certified trainer can help you make sure you are balancing your high-intensity exercise with the recovery you need during your circuit-training routine.
Circuit Training at Home
Ready to take advantage of all these awesome benefits of circuit training? It’s not hard — you can even do it from your own home! Sign up for a free Openfit trial and cue up 600 Secs. These 10-minute classes incorporate circuit-training workouts you can do in any space, with minimal equipment. Get started today!