There has been a long-standing debate about which out of cardiovascular training or strength training is better for the average fitness conscious person. Various methods, however, since the early days of these two distinct branches of fitness have tried to mix the two together for their combined benefits. Circuit training was developed in the 1950s by combining weight training with high-intensity activities performed over a short duration of time.

Both aerobic as well as anaerobic (resistance) exercises require different kinds of endurance levels which circuit training seeks to get the best out of. While some exercises can focus on isolating muscles and performing exercises over a set duration, others focus on working multiple muscle groups instead. To this effect, several different variations have emerged through the evolution the fitness industry has gone through in recent years. 

Several varieties of circuit training methods have emerged including HIITcrossfit or a combination of bodyweight exercises to go with various running or other cardiovascular activities. The early examples of circuit training could be seen in the military, and many of circuit training's modern iterations appear to have evolved from there.

Circuit training can be a great way to keep things interesting. You can customize the routine as you like, you can add any exercise of your choice and perform them in a sequence within say 30 minutes. A short duration is ideal to complete a circuit routine and it takes existing exercises and intensifies them by speeding up the routine.

  1. Benefits of circuit training
  2. Circuit training basics
  3. Tips to perform a circuit training
  4. Takeaway of circuit training

We already know about the health benefits of exercising regularly. Circuit training enhances the results in all aspects. By adding a circuit in your daily workout you increase the intensity that benefits in many ways:

  • Saves time: You can perform the same set of exercises you like to do in less time. Instead of an hour-long monotonous workout, a circuit can be done in half that time.
  • Full body workout: Quickly switching between the movements allows you to train the entire body. From push-ups to squats and ending with pull-ups, you can activate multiple muscle groups.
  • Functional training: Circuit training increases the stamina and mobility of the body which helps you perform your daily chores with more ease.
  • Combined benefits of aerobic and resistance training: A mixture of cardio and strength training forces your body through a rigorous workout. You can also mix up cardio exercises with a weight training workout.
  • Cardiovascular fitness: A lively circuit helps you boost your cardiovascular fitness as you are expected to perform high-intensity exercises in a short span of time.
  • Increased muscle endurance: Circuit training allows you to train your muscles in short durations, maximising muscle growth as longer workouts can lead to overuse of muscles.
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The best part of executing a workout in a circuit is that you can customise it according to you, or take part in a group which makes it competitive. You can increase the intensity or lower it by adding exercises according to your comfort. Here are some examples of how you can structure a circuit programme:

Full body circuit
Although you can choose any of the exercises, here are some upper body exercises you can accomplish in 30 minutes. Think about it as a weights circuit and do one set of each before reaching the first one again and repeat.

Isolated circuits
You can also add circuit training to your chest day or another part of the body in the gym you visit. Circuit training can intensify even the most basic into an intense routine. Choose any of the five exercises and perform them in a circuit. On the day of training your chests, you can try:

  • Flat Bench press x 3 sets
  • Machine fly x 3 sets
  • Incline bench press x 3 sets
  • Push-ups x 3 sets
  • Cable crossover x 3 sets

For home workout (bodyweight exercises)
Bodyweight exercises are great for strength training as you can perform them anywhere you want with zero equipment.

  • Push-ups x 3 sets
  • Pull-ups x 3 sets
  • Squats x 3 sets
  • Chin-ups x sets
  • Dips x 3 sets

Make your own circuit
Circuit training doesn’t only intensify the workout but it also allows you to mix things up. With a variety of equipment available in the gym, you can try aerobic, crossfit, bodyweight exercises, HIIT and weight training.

Choose any 10 of these in a circuit and you can get to work:

  • Treadmill walk 1 min x sprint 30 seconds
  • Jumping jack x 1 min
  • Cycling x 1 min on high and 30 seconds low
  • Elliptical (cross-trainer) x 1 min high and 30 sec low
  • Burpees x 1 min
  • Kettlebell snatch x 1 min
  • Jumping ropes x 1 min
  • Weighted squats x 1 min
  • High-knees x 1 min
  • Bench press x 1 min
  • Bicep curl x 1 min
  • Shoulder press x 1 min
  • Thruster x 1 min
  • Triceps kickback x 1 min
  • Dips x 1 min
  • Battle ropes x 1 min
  • Push-ups x 1 min
  • Cable crossover x 1 min
  • Pulley pushdowns x 1 min
  • Pulley push-up x 1 min
  • Walking Lunges x 1 min
  • Any animal movement exercise x 1 min
  • Plank x 1 min
  • Stepper (step workout) x 1 min

These exercises give you a general idea about how to construct a circuit of your own by picking any of the exercises. You can also include any other exercise you wish to and make your own circuit that can challenge you.

Circuit training can snap you out of a routine exercise plan you have been following in the gym without much success, and reinvigorate your fitness journey. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Do not rest for more than 30-60 seconds between exercises.
  • First, perform one set of each exercise and then repeat the second set in the same sequence to make it rounds.
  • Try to complete the entire workout in 30 minutes.
  • For strength training, perform five exercises for 1 minute each and 30-second rest in between. In aerobic exercises, you can practise 10 exercises for 1 minute each with 30 seconds of rest.
  • Increase the pace and weight as per your strength.
  • If you’re a beginner we suggest you not try circuit training as it is a high-intensity workout.
  • If you feel dehydrated while exercising, stop for a few minutes and take a sip of water.
  • To prevent workout injuries or muscle strain perform this workout under someone’s supervision or in a group.
  • There are many styles to perform this routine, you can always make your own circuit with a combination of exercises.
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Circuit training is an intense workout routine that helps in faster muscle growth and benefits overall cardiovascular health. If you have a lot of space in your home you can easily add this routine to your daily routine as well. Circuit training, however, can become even more enjoyable when done with a group of fitness enthusiasts to make it competitive.

Also read: How to build a home gym


  1. Kraviz L. Cardiovascular responses to a high-volume continuous circuit resistance training protocol Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(4), 760-764.
  2. Paoli A. et al Effects of high-intensity circuit training, low-intensity circuit training and endurance training on blood pressure and lipoproteins in middle-aged overweight men Lipids Health Dis. 2013; 12: 131.PMID: 24004639
  3. Sperlich B. et al Functional High-Intensity Circuit Training Improves Body Composition, Peak Oxygen Uptake, Strength, and Alters Certain Dimensions of Quality of Life in Overweight Women Front. Physiol., 03 April 2017
  4. Mayorga-Vega D. et al Effects of a Circuit Training Program on Muscular and Cardiovascular Endurance and their Maintenance in Schoolchildren Journal of Human Kinetics 37(1):153-60 · July 2013
  5. Dahlan, F. et al VO2max Intensity Through Interval Training and Circuit Training JUARA : Jurnal Olahraga, 4(2), 160-166. A. (2019).
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