Circuit Training: Is this cool or what?!

by: Aaron Parker

circuit training

One of the main barriers for getting to the gym is time. Sometimes, it can feel like you need 2 hours to fit in a really effective workout and feel accomplished.  I used to feel the same way until I switched my major to Kinesiology and discovered circuit training.  Circuit training is a set of 10-15 different exercises that utilize aerobic or resistance training or a combination of the two.  A moderate intensity should be selected (40-60% 1RM for weight training or 40-60% VO2max or a 12-13 out of 20 on a 6-20 scale).  Each exercise should only last 15 repetitions or 30 seconds.  Typically you will rest for the same amount of time between sets as you do during your set (i.e. workout for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds).  Your relief time could also include active recovery, such as walking, jogging, or other calisthenic activities.  You would then continuously repeat this cycle for 2-4 sets. When you are done, you might even feel as if you got a 2-3 hour work out in in 30 minutes. This is good yes?? Circuit training has shown to help boost your metabolism, which could also will lead to accelerated weight loss. It can also help minimize the risk of many cardiovascular diseases and improve your cardiovascular endurance.  One study determined high-intensity circuit training was more effective than endurance training and lower– intensity circuit training combined at lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides (fat in the blood). However, only those who have been exercising and are used to a moderate intensity workout should engage in high-intensity exercise.  Those who have been sedentary or are considered beginners are encouraged to start off with a light to moderate intensity workout.

Circuit training is arguably the most convenient form of exercise because you may be able to receive the same benefits (if not better) in a much shorter amount of time. Some of those benefits include: strength gain, muscular endurance, and an increase of cardiovascular endurance. In the society we live in today, everything is fast – paced. We are constantly on the go and sometimes either forget or don’t have time to do some of things that are most important/beneficial to us. If you’re like me, and are one of those who are constantly pressed for time, this workout may be for you.

Paoli, Pacelli, Moro, Marcolin, Neri, Battaglia, . . . Bianco. (2013). Effects of high-intensity circuit training, low-intensity circuit training and endurance training on blood pressure and lipoproteins in middle-aged overweight men. Lipids in Health and Disease, 12, 131.


Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department