Circuit training is an excellent way to improve one’s strength, mobility, and stamina. For those who do not know what circuit training is, it is a training format that consists of 6-10 exercises, strength exercises to be precise, in which the participant completes each exercise, one by one with each of the workouts performed a certain number of times or for a stipulated duration of time before moving on to the next exercise. Once each exercise has been completed the participant completes the circuit several more times. The exercises within each circuit are interspersed with short rest intervals, while each individual circuit is separated by longer rest periods. Usually, in a training session, the total number of circuits will depend upon the training level of a person (whether he/she is beginner, intermediary, or advanced), the duration of expected training, if there is a competition ahead and the objective of training.
Designing a circuit for one’s own fitness regimen is not a big deal at all. Anyone can plan a circuit with some application of mind and yes, some common sense. The theory is simple – identify the exercises you can do with the available equipments and group 6-10 of them together such that each exercise stresses on a different part of the body or group of muscles. In other words, never group together two exercises that work on the same muscle group, for example, you can’t follow press-ups with pull-ups. The circuit must be planned such that it works each body part, the total body, upper-body, lower body, core and trunk. Finally, plan at least 3-4 circuits so that you won’t feel bored by the monotony of the exercises, which can happen if you always hang on to one circuit.
Before designing the circuits, here is the list of exercises that fall in each of the categories – from total body to core and trunk.
Total body workouts include treadmills, squat thrusts and skipping.
Upper body exercises include press ups, pull ups, bench dips, bench lifts, medicine ball chest passes and inclined press ups.
Suitable lower body workouts are squat jumps, astride jumps, compass jumps, shuttle runs, step ups, hopping shuttles and bench squats.
Finally the core and trunk types include sit ups (lower abdominals), stomach crunches (upper abdominals), and back extension chest raises.
By combining these exercises judiciously, one could design 4-5 circuits easily. An example of a balanced circuit is mentioned below.
Six Exercise Circuit: treadmills, press ups, squat jumps, sit ups (bent knees with feet on the floor), squat thrusts, and bench dips.
Eight Exercise Circuit: The same as six exercise circuit, but after bench dips, continue with shuttle runs and back extension chest raise.
Regarding individual exercise timings, each exercise must be done for 20-30 seconds, with a 30 second recovery time separating the workouts. A daily session must ideally include 3-5 circuits, each circuit separated by a 3 minute interval.
So, now what are the benefits of circuit training? Does it have any disadvantages? Well, like any aspect in life, circuit training also has its pros and cons. On a positive note, circuit training brings strength and endurance to the person doing it, the exercise regimen can be customizable for any requirement or age, the training as a whole is quite simple to follow and there are wide choices of exercises to choose from so that the person working out will not feel that the work out is boring or monotonous. On the flip side, in circuit training, most of the exercises are such that it requires specialized equipment, ample space is a necessity to set up circuit training workouts and there must be some expert there with you to monitor your progress and keep you on schedule. Regarding the latter aspect, you need to check into a gym or hire a personal trainer to monitor your progress.