What Is Circuit Training And How Do You Get Results?

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February 17, 2021

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When you look at our lineup of Sweat programs and the incredible trainers behind them, it’s no wonder that we’re often talking about the benefits of strength training, a quick blast of HIIT or working towards progressive overload. But something else that plays a key part in so many of our programs and On Demand workouts? Circuit training! 

Here’s everything you need to know about the incredible benefits of circuit training, why it’s such a fun way to move your body, and why trainers keep coming back to it as an effective way to design their workouts. 

What is circuit training?

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), circuit training involves doing a series of exercises one after the other, with little or no rest in between. Each exercise can be done for a specified number of reps before moving into the next movement, or for a certain amount of time. Once you’ve finished one lap of the entire circuit, you usually take a short rest before starting your next lap.

Circuit workouts can vary significantly when it comes to the intensity and exercises. Any of these exercise styles (or a combination!) could form part of a circuit training workout: 

  • High-intensity bodyweight exercises such as burpees, jump lunges or mountain climbers

  • High-intensity resistance exercises such as kettlebell swings, dumbbell thrusters or ball slams

  • Exercises using large equipment or gym machines such as deadlifts, back squats or lat pull-downs

  • Lower intensity exercises such as bodyweight squats or stationary lunges

A number of Sweat programs use circuit training to challenge your muscles andyour cardiovascular system, such as OG Kayla, High Intensity Zero Equipment, Kelsey’s PWR programs, FIERCE, Ignite Strength and our post-pregnancy programs - just to name a few! 

Because a circuit training workout often requires some space or alternating between multiple pieces of equipment, it can sometimes be best to complete them at home, when the gym isn’t too busy, or to create a small area for yourself at the gym with everything you need in one place.

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What are the benefits of circuit training?

Wondering why we include circuit training in so many Sweat programs? It’s because this form of training offers so many benefits.

Circuit training workouts are full of variety

If you easily get bored mid-workout, circuit training is a great way to keep you engaged. As you’re regularly changing from one exercise to the next, you hardly have time to even let your mind wander. Circuit training can also vary in its structure, depending on whether the completion of each lap is marked by hitting a number of reps or time. 

Circuit training workouts also allow you to combine resistance exercises with cardio, or bodyweight exercises with equipment, making for an exciting and challenging full-body workout.

Circuit training workouts can target multiple muscle groups

Where more traditional strength training programs have designated weekly workouts for each muscle group, circuit training can target different parts of the body in one session, meaning you can have an effective and efficient workout that works multiple muscle groups.

Circuit training can improve cardiovascular fitness

Depending on the intensity and exercises in your workout, circuit training can give your cardiovascular system as much of a workout as your muscles. If you’re out of breath or your heart rate feels high, you’re ticking that cardio box!

Boosting your cardio fitness can make it easier to perform daily tasks, enjoy cardio sessions and lead an active lifestyle without feeling tired, and it’s also a great way to improve your overall health. 

Circuit training can be done by anyone

Sure, circuit training can be challenging and high-intensity, but it’s designed to allow you to work at your own pace, making it perfect for all fitness levels. To reduce the difficulty of a workout, you could simply slow down your speed, work out without weights or take longer rest periods.

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How to get results from circuit training

We know that seeing results from your fitness program can be a huge source of motivation. If you want to see results, it’s important to start by defining your fitness goals, getting clear on exactly how you’ll define success, being consistent with your workout schedule and practicing patience. Remember, all fitness progress takes time! Strive for progress over perfection. 

To boost your cardio fitness… 

Make sure you’re training at an intensity that challenges your cardiovascular system, aka increases your heart rate and gets you puffing! You could also use a fitness watch to train using heart rate zones to boost your VO2 max.  

To improve muscular strength…

Make sure your circuit training exercises actually challenge your muscles, whether you’re using free weights, gym machines or your bodyweight. If your goal is building strength, pure cardio exercises won’t get you there, even if your workouts feel tough.

To work towards a lifting program…

Practice doing circuit training exercises that involve a range of equipment, especially dumbbells, barbells and gym machines. In each session, focus on moving with proper form and continue building your strength and confidence. As you progress and your weights start to feel lighter, that’s when you can level up with heavier weights!

To see changes in body composition…

Continue to work out consistently, challenge yourself, lead an active lifestyle, drink plenty of water and support your training by nourishing your body with a nutritious, balanced diet.

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Regardless of your fitness goal…

Circuit training workouts can be physically demanding, and it’s important to support your training with other healthy habits if you want to feel your best and get the most out of your Sweat sessions.  

In between your workouts, we encourage you to take care of yourself with good nutrition, hydration, rest days, quality sleep and self-care - whatever that looks like for you. 

  • Food is fuel! Your diet can elevate or hinder your training, energy, recovery and results. Try to eat nourishing meals, include a source of lean protein in each meal to support muscle growth and recovery, and support your training with pre and post-workout snacks if you need.

  • Drink plenty of water to support your body and brain’s vital functions, transport nutrients to your cells, help you sleep better, boost your endurance and so much more.

  • Rest days aren’t for the weak - they're there to make you stronger. Never skip your rest days!

  • Your sleeping habits can affect almost every aspect of your overall wellbeing and have a huge knock-on effect on how you feel before, during and after working out. Aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

  • Managing stress is a biggie if you want to set yourself up for sustainable fitness habits, so listen to your body to avoid overtraining or burnout.

Work out anywhere, anytime with Sweat

Ready for your first workout?

Get started with circuit training today!

Love the sound of circuit training workouts and all the benefits of this popular training style? Try this free lower body circuit workout from the OG Kayla program in the Sweat app!

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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