Quick overview: Circuit training means training in a variety of ways and achieving high training effects. Circuit training can improve your strength and endurance, flexibility, and coordination skills at the same time.
What is Circuit Training?
Circuit training is one of the oldest training methods and was invented in 1952 by two sports scientists at the University of Leeds in England. Ronald Ernest Morgan and Graham Thomas Adamson oriented themselves towards bodybuilding, but the goal was to design a workout that supports general strength, the cardiovascular system, strength endurance, and better oxygen uptake. The initial circuit consisted of 24 exercises, including barbell curls, squats, pull-ups, dips, and even stretch jumps. The name circuit training comes from the fact that the individual exercises were set up and completed as stations in a circle. That is still the case today.
During circuit training, you usually go through a full-body workout, in which you perform several exercises for the entire body in succession. You also work on your condition, because you (almost) do not rest at the end of each exercise. The rest you get between exercises is only from walking to the next exercise and this still happens at a good pace. Circuit training, therefore, aims to increase strength and endurance. This is ideal for people who want to lose weight, but also for those who want to gain muscle mass and feel fit.
With most forms of circuit training, you train the large muscle groups first and then the smaller muscle groups. The reason for this is that by training the large muscle groups first, you can build up more muscle mass. It is therefore most efficient to put your energy into training large muscle groups.
Circuit training often consists of nine to twelve different exercises. These can be repeated several times. Between eight and twenty repetitions are usually performed per exercise at an effort of 40 to 60 percent of your maximum strength. Maximum strength stands for the maximum weight you can perform one repetition with. The recovery period from circuit training is approximately 24-48 hours. Circuit training usually takes place in groups and is supervised by a fitness instructor.
To sum this up, the principle of circuit training is to arrange the individual exercises in a certain order so that different muscles are always trained one after the other. This makes it possible to have the exercises follow one another almost directly and to save pause time. While one muscle group is recovering, another is already being trained.
What are the benefits of Circuit Training?
- Circuit training as a full-body workout
Working all over the body in one workout is what many athletes strive for. It saves time and can therefore be easily integrated into everyday training. In addition, such training ensures that there are no overly one-sided stresses. In a functionally structured training circuit, there are push, pull, jump, rotation, speed, and stabilization tasks.
Exercises that stress the body as a whole and muscle chains as such are preferred. This ensures a harmonious training of all muscle groups and skills. From this point of view, it is suitable as a stand-alone fitness training or as an ideal supplementary training for any type of sport. Circuit training can be carried out without equipment and also very easily at home.
- Circuit training improves strength, muscle building, endurance, and coordination
Functional circuit training includes stations for strength, endurance, speed, coordination, and stability. It thus covers the most important conditioning skills and ensures holistic training. The cardiovascular system benefits because you hardly take any breaks between exercises and your pulse is consistently high. Functional strength is trained because the stations work either with functional training equipment or with your own body weight at high intensity.
This ensures a qualitative growth stimulus in the muscle. Coordination and technique are improved because, due to the constant strain of stamina and strength, they are forced to perform the movements as economically as possible and the exercises are based on natural movement patterns. This means that circuit training that is carried out once a week is the ideal training for all endurance athletes who know that they should finally do more for their strength.
- Circuit training as interval training
Circuit training is always an interval training. Interval training is characterized by alternating stress and recovery phases (intervals). In addition, the stressed muscle groups and movement requirements alternate in a well-structured circle. In this way, the organism can always recover accordingly, even though it is under almost constant stress. This allows training at the respective stations at a very high level. This in turn challenges the cardiovascular, muscle, and metabolic systems in such a way that a strong training stimulus can be set in each area.
- High-calorie consumption through circuit training
The high intensity and the use of functional whole-body exercises mean that, on the one hand, a large number of muscles are active and, on the other hand, the cardiovascular and metabolic systems are challenged at a high level of intensity. Accordingly, many metabolic processes and hormone production are set in motion. In addition, there is a high-calorie consumption induced by exercise.
Since the high intensity represents a greater challenge for the overall system than normal strength or endurance training, several times as much work has to be expended after the training in order to repair the damage that has occurred in the muscle and to fill up the energy deficit. This explains the well-known afterburn effect, which still consumes calories even after training and keeps the overall metabolism high for up to 48 hours.
The advantages of Circuit Training in a nutshell:
A bodybuilder works on endurance through circuit training, while an endurance athlete gains more strength. Every fitness goal is supported – be it losing weight, more endurance, more strength endurance, and even muscle building. Due to the few breaks and the highly intensive frequency of the repetitions, the training is very sweaty and intensifies the burning of fat, among other things through the afterburn effect.
Things to consider for Circuit Training
Circuit training is an ideal workout for every level of performance and sport. Care should only be taken to ensure that the athlete warms up properly beforehand and that the exercises are performed correctly so that no injuries occur. So regardless of whether the workout takes place inside or outside, with or without equipment, the execution must always be flawless. Above all, free exercises should either be checked by a second athlete or the athlete himself is already experienced enough. In addition, the workout should prepare for a training plan or be integrated into an existing one.
Circuit training alone will make it difficult to achieve or maintain the desired results such as losing weight or building muscle in the long run. For example, a different kind of training is required for rapid muscle building than for increasing maximum strength. Furthermore, if the circuit training is built into an existing plan, it should be adapted so that the athlete does not fall into overtraining. As mentioned before, sufficient regeneration is necessary after circuit training. Learn more about recovery phases and techniques HERE.
Circuit training is still tried and tested after more than 60 years and, as a full-body workout, supports your own training plans, whether in bodybuilding and strength training or in endurance training. The athlete trains in a better condition and therefore for more strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility. Circuit training is suitable for every level of ability, as it is an ideal opportunity for beginners to build up general strength and endurance performance. The basic muscles are strengthened and the beginner can prepare for harder and more intensive training. Advanced and professional athletes benefit from the alternation to normal training and, in addition, circuit training gives the muscles new stimuli. In this way, in addition to fitness, muscle building can usually be supported.