In order to have a great physical condition, the most effective method you can implement, coupled with a balanced diet, remains working out. Strength training, weight training and resistance training all form part of some of the fitness methods athletes adopt in order to condition themselves.
However, there are many other exercise regimens that you can use, particularly those that can be seen as optimizations of weightlifting. One of the most popular methods is called circuit training. Working on both the muscle groups in your body as well as your cardiovascular system, these workouts are great for all skill levels.
One of the major stumbling blocks for people starting on their circuit training journey is deciding the frequency that they attend a circuit training session and the duration of that session itself. This type of variation, while hard to figure out at first, can actually make you more likely to enjoy your workouts. Superprof invites you to discover what kind of circuit training structure is best for you depending on your physical capabilities, your goals and sports training interests!
Define a Specific Objective to Establish Your Schedule
While exercising is great in itself, your fitness journey will be made even better by defining an objective for yourself before you even start. Whether that be the pleasure of challenging yourself every day or to get in shape by getting rid of body fat, setting up objectives can help you sustain motivation in the long run. Circuit training is an ideal way to meet some of the objectives you may have for many reasons.
Looking at the principles of circuit training, we can see why:
- Burn fat through high intensity, total body workouts
- Reinforcing your endurance through interval training
- Gain muscle by working your upper body and lower body
Whether your objective is to get the butt of your dreams, the abs you’ve always wanted or simply to lose weight, circuit training is a balanced body workout that can help get you thinking about something other than just your bodyweight.
Circuit training is also an effective way of toning your muscles because of the variation in its exercises, like squats and push-ups, as well as the occasional equipment such as a dumbbell or kettlebell. Achieving your goals with circuit training is also fun when you combine this sort of training with a workout routine you already enjoy, such as swimming or running.
If you’re having trouble working out due to a lack of motivation, you can remind yourself of some of the reasons why you started to workout. Remembering the objectives, you’ve outlined for yourself can serve as a great motivator.
Finally, the results that everyone can achieve from circuit training will of course depend on the extent you take your fitness program. While circuit training can be done at the gym, it can also be done in the comfort of your home with some aerobic exercises and maybe the occasional dumbbells. The basics of circuit training will stay the same no matter where you go: no recovery time, repetitions and a timer.
Read our post about the benefits of doing circuit training.
Set a Fixed Duration of a Circuit Training Session
Circuit training can be defined by comparing it to HIIT, or high intensity interval training. While a HIIT workout routine will structure itself with short, timed exercise moves including intervals of rest in between each one, circuit training involves doing each exercise move one after the other without a rest interval.
Now that you’ve defined your objectives and understand the basics of circuit training, you can now focus on finding what session duration is right for you. In circuit training, each move should be timed because of the fact that the time will dictate when you should move on to the next exercise.
If you’re a beginner, meaning you don’t do physical activity every day, you should be careful and not strain your heart or muscles too much at the beginning. Your system is probably not ready to perform a push-up sequence for 30 seconds non-stop, which is why you should adapt each move and duration to your level.
Whether you’re doing lunges, burpees or whatever workout move, we recommend fixing the time you perform each exercise to be between 15 and 20 seconds – after which you can increase or decrease the time and/or the training exercises to fit your abilities. After each circuit, don’t forget to give yourself a rest break as each circuit will require an intense amount of energy. This recovery interval between each circuit you perform will be longer in the beginning: take 2 minutes at least before starting up the next round.
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If you’re at the intermediate level, this means you have already gained some muscle endurance and toning in your body. You can go ahead and adjust the duration of the circuit training session itself. Whereas beginners should have an exercise program that lasts about 20 minutes, those at the intermediate level should have a session that lasts about 30 minutes.
At this level, not only will you burn calories for a longer period of time, but you will also work out muscles like your biceps and glutes at a higher intensity. Each exercise move should last at least 30 seconds, where increasing the time can make each exercise even more effective for weight loss or simply for challenging yourself.
The rest interval at this level will be less: spend only about a minute or a minute and thirty seconds in between each circuit in order to get the most out of your workout. For training workouts that place a heavier emphasis on cardio exercise, you might want to increase this time depending on how winded you get.
If you’re at an advanced level, you’re probably looking for a weight lifting, total body workout that can put your body to the test. At this level, you can combine fat loss exercises with exercise equipment like weights or a pull-up bar in order to push your limits. Each exercise move should last anywhere between 30 seconds to a minute.
Make sure to always have a bottle of water around you during your workout, not strain your muscles if you feel burnt out, and to cool down after every workout!
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Ideal Frequency of Circuit Training for Casual Athletes
For those who are at the beginning of their journey towards building muscle or are constantly missing their sessions at the gym – circuit training can offer you a great opportunity to start getting serious with sessions that are not as long and have bigger rest periods between each round.
Making sure not to overstrain or overexert yourself when you’re first starting out is super important. Therefore, regardless of whether you’re doing cardio workouts, bodyweight exercises or aerobic exercise in your circuit training – you can follow this basic structure. Start by completing a training session at least 2 or 3 times a week, making sure that each session lasts about 15 to 30 minutes each.
Here is a list of exercises you can try during a circuit training session as a beginner:
- Jump rope or jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Triceps or tricep dips
Whether your goal is to lose fat, increase muscular endurance or simply try to include more weight exercises in your life – adapting a fitness program to your specific needs can be easily done with this whole-body workout method. If you’re interested in challenging yourself more at the beginner’s stage, try including a barbell or medicine ball during any cardiovascular exercise or cardio workout-based circuit training.
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Practising Circuit Training Regularly
If you’re already familiar with aspects of fitness such as bodyweight exercises, strength exercises, metabolic weight and cardiovascular fitness – you’ll have no trouble getting used to the rhythm of circuit training workouts. If you’re at a more advanced level, you can practice this circuit workout method 4 to 5 times a week.
Focusing on targeting major muscle groups, good form and your fitness goals – you will be able to get fit and get stronger in no time. If you’re transitioning from doing a HIIT workout schedule or practice jogging and other sports every day, you can also simply take 3 days out of your week to complete a circuit training session.
Here are some of the exercises you can practice at a more advanced level of circuit training:
- Tricep dips
Whether you’re looking for body workouts for weight loss, fat burning or toning – circuit training is a great way to start getting into the shape of your life.
Interested in circuit training for women? Check out this guide!