What is Circuit Training?

Last week in your Workout of the Week, I talked about circuit training and it's benefits. Quick refresher for you here. I promised I would talk more about what the heck circuit training actually is (especially because it's my specialty training technique) so here it goes-

By definition: Circuit training is a form of body conditioning or endurance training or resistance training using high-intensity. It targets strength building or muscular endurance. An exercise "circuit" is one completion of all prescribed exercises in the program. When one circuit is complete, one begins the first exercise again for the next circuit. Traditionally, the time between exercises in circuit training is short, often with rapid movement to the next exercise.

Long story short: It's a workout style that both strengthens your muscles + gets your heart rate up at the same time. Talk about efficiency!

Who doesn't want their workouts to be efficient + effective?

And the best part? Circuit training is the ULTIMATE fix for if you are bored of the same old gym routine. The way you can mix and match exercises to create your workouts makes each one fun, exciting, and different. Not to mention the little amount of rest between exercises is an awesome cardiovascular workout so you need to spend less time on the treadmill :)

In fact, I don't think I've ever done the same workout twice in my entire fitness career. And I know for a fact that none of my clients have ever done the same workout twice. BOOM! The beauty of circuit training!


How to build your own circuit training workout:

1. Pick what body parts you want to target for your workout. Hint: all circuit workouts will touch every muscle in your body, but you can tailor your exercises around a focused group if you'd like.

If you're a runner like me or if you only want to workout a few days a week, a full body circuit will be your best friend. You will hit every single muscle group very quickly and effectively on your workout days using this style.

2. Figure out the how long you want your total workout to be.

This will determine how many exercises, circuits within your workout, and reps/time you have within your workout.

3. Create your circuits by choosing your combination of exercises you'd like in each circuit.

I personally typically choose 3-6 exercises in each circuit, but there is no right or wrong number for one circuit.

For full body workouts, you can go about it in 2 different ways.

1) Have a different exercise focused on a different body part in each circuit (i.e. start with a leg exercise, move onto chest, back, shoulders, abs, etc.)

2) Have each circuit focused on a specific body part (i.e. your first circuit is entirely dedicated to legs, second back, etc.). This approach could also cross over into superset training, but that's for another day. :)

4. Choose your magic number of reps or time for each exercise and how many times you want to repeat each circuit.

Get creative here and play around with it! It's okay to have different reps for exercises within the same circuit, to have some rep-based and some time-based, to repeat the same circuit 4 times, or to not repeat until you've completed all of your circuits. This is entirely up to you and is what makes circuit training so much fun!

I will give away my own little secret about reps: the number 12. I oftentimes will default to 12 reps because it's the PERFECT in-between number of reps. 10 and under will help you build strength + fast twitch muscles. 15 and above will help you build endurance + slow twitch muscles. 12 is a mixture of the two so it's the best of both worlds! Feel free to steal this trick :)

5. Decide if you will have any exercises BETWEEN your circuits.

This is a fun one and a good way to make each workout different. Think cardio timed exercises, core exercises, tabata timed exercises, etc. Totally optional but definitely a fun thing to throw in every once in a while to increase intensity and mix things up!

6. DO IT!

Perform your workout as you built it for yourself with the least amount of rest between exercises and circuits possible. You may end up having a 30 minute workout when you originally thought it'd be 60 minutes due to your speed :) (I almost always finish my workouts in 40 minutes and have just recently started adding more stuff in there to keep it at 60. You will surprise yourself!

I promise that as SOON as you incorporate circuit training into your workout routine, you will be excited to get your move on every day.

What are you waiting for?!