Circuit Training: Everything You Need to Know

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Circuit training is a workout that involves rotating through various exercises targeting different parts of the body. Focusing on different muscle groups in a short amount of time is an effective exercise that can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.

This article provides an overview of circuit training, examples of exercises, and tips on getting started.

man doing push-ups at home

Oscar Wong

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a type of workout that involves rotating through a circuit of up to 10 exercises that target different muscle groups. Circuit training refers to how a workout routine is structured rather than a specific type of exercise.

With circuit training, you will complete each set of exercises for a certain number of repetitions, or times. Then, you'll move to another activity for the same amount of repetitions or time with little or no rest in between. 

Because you move through the circuit of exercises relatively quickly, an entire circuit training session can usually be completed in only 30–45 minutes.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine to ensure it's safe to increase your activity level if you have any underlying health conditions. 

Types of Circuit Training

Four main types of circuit training workouts are:

  • Repetition circuit: Each exercise in the circuit is performed for a certain number of repetitions (typically 10–15) before moving on to the next exercise
  • Timed circuit: Each exercise in the circuit is performed for a certain amount of time (typically 30–90 seconds) before moving on to the next exercise
  • Competition circuit: Similar to a timed circuit, but each exercise is completed for as many repetitions as possible within the given amount of time 
  • Sport-specific circuit: Each exercise is a drill used to improve certain movements involved in a specific sport, such as practicing jumps, kicks, turns, and tumbling skills for gymnastics

Benefits of Circuit Training

Circuit training is a flexible and highly individualized form of exercise that you can adjust in various ways depending on your personal preferences for exercise types, intensity, and duration.

In addition to being customizable, which can help make working out more engaging and enjoyable, circuit training also has specific health benefits. 

Increase Strength

An efficient circuit training workout incorporates exercises that target muscles of the upper and lower body, which helps to increase overall strength.

May Help With Weight Loss

Circuit training involves strength training and cardiovascular exercises, such as rowing, running, or elliptical training, which can help improve your body composition by building muscle and losing fat.

It’s Time Efficient 

Circuit training involves little to no rest between exercises, so its fast-paced nature helps save time. This can be incredibly beneficial to people who have limited time to exercise but want to reap the most rewards out of their workouts.

Improves Heart Health

With little to no rest between exercises, circuit training helps to improve heart health by enhancing your endurance as your heart has to pump harder to supply your muscles with oxygen-rich blood.

How Do You Circuit Train?

You can create a circuit training workout for yourself, use one provided online, or get direction from a personal trainer or coach. Effective circuit training workouts include exercises that target cardiovascular endurance and upper and lower body strengthening. 

Exercises incorporated into circuit training are usually performed at a moderate intensity level, with 10-15 repetitions or a time of 30–90 seconds. 

Once you complete the appropriate number of repetitions or amount of time for a given exercise, you will move on to the next exercise for the same amount of repetitions or time.

When you circuit train, you will move quickly from one exercise to the next with little or no rest. Once you complete each activity within the circuit, you will repeat the cycle for three rounds—or more, depending on the circuit.

Sample Workout

You can structure your circuit training workouts to your individual preference and desired intensity level. Exercises can include resistance, body-weight movements, or sport-specific drills. 

At-Home Body-Weight Circuit

Perform each exercise for 30 seconds. Then, move on to the next exercise and repeat without resting. Once you complete all the exercises, rest for two minutes and then repeat the circuit for three rounds. 

Summary

Circuit training is a workout method that involves rotating through several different exercises for a certain amount of time or number of repetitions, with little to no rest. Because circuit training is time-efficient and targets your whole body, it can help build strength, improve heart health, and help you lose weight. Circuit training is customizable, with many combinations of exercises. Incorporate exercises that target your upper and lower body, or use sport-specific drills. 

A Word From Verywell

Circuit training is an effective way to improve strength and endurance in a short amount of time. Whenever beginning any new exercise program, though, start slowly and gradually increase exercise duration, frequency, and intensity over time. If your circuit training workout is getting too easy, you can increase the time or number of repetitions for each exercise or add more resistance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the difference between HIIT and circuit training?

    Circuit training involves rotating through moderate-intensity exercises with little to no rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can apply a few different activities or one exercise alone, such as sprinting, at maximum intensity for short intervals followed by short rest intervals. 

  • Who is circuit training suitable for?

    Circuit training is suitable for all ability levels and can be customized depending on your individual exercise preferences and capabilities.

  • Can you do circuit training at home?

    You can easily do circuit training at home by incorporating bodyweight movements like jumping jacks, burpees, squats, lunges, and push-ups.


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5 Sources
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