Perfect for those who are bored with their everyday workout regime, circuit training will see you perform a mixed bag of exercises that target different muscle groups across short intervals. You name the exercise and you can probably include it in circuit training – from hand-held weights to resistance machines and bodyweight exercises – though ideally a circuit should include a combination of motions that work the upper, lower and core sections of the body. The original method invented in the 1950s at the University of Leeds comprised between nine to 12 stations in a circuit with little or no rest between, though the number, time spent and exercises involved can be tailored accordingly.
Giving it a bash
I completed a six-round circuit comprising cycling, rowing, skipping, burpees, squats and stomach crunches.
The time was loosely set at about 40 minutes (or until exhaustion) and my phone was scheduled every two minutes to signal the start of the next exercise. The alarm became a saving grace from everlasting intervals and a dreaded reminder of the activities to come.
Rounds one and two were no trouble. It was a joy not to be counting down the minutes during a 30-minute treadmill session. Circuits are typically completed in groups for the encouraging camaraderie that comes with, and so you can spot the next exercise coming up. As the lone participant, it was a struggle to remember whether the next step was squats or burpees between towelling off and scrambling for a drink.
Either way, it was the final two circuits that really took their toll. Finding the motivation to rise from the rowing machine and pick up the skipping rope was difficult, the burpees, squats and stomach crunches became progressively slower during their two-minute intervals. The stations during the final circuit were cut short with nothing left in the tank to keep battling through. It proved to be an effective and jam-packed exercise programme for the entire body.
Why you should try it
Studies have shown that circuit training is one of the most timeefficient ways to enhance cardiovascular fitness and muscle endurance. With a near-endless variety of exercises that target different muscle groups, it also means that you can cut down on the rest time between stations, something that translates as highintensity interval training, the perfect equation to increase the heart rate and burn more calories. It also keeps things interesting and you won’t find yourself constantly checking the time or glued to the gym television.
Despite the short timeline to complete exercises, proper technique should still be applied to avoid injury. You should consult a trainer before completing unfamiliar exercises or practise under the guidance of a certified instructor.
Make your instructor aware of any injuries that may restrict or prevent you from completing any of the stations, and if you have history with back or heart problems, see a medical professional first.
Find out more
Guided circuit training is available at practically every gym in the country.
Circuit training involves exercises that target different muscle groups across short intervals.