Circuit Training: Good or Bad

If you’re running short on time but still want to get that workout in, then circuit training might be a good option.

The principle of circuit training is that of maximizing the volume of resistance or weight training done in short window of time. Although beneficial for muscle and strength gains, depending on the specific exercises involved, this method of training is best suited for people seeking weight loss, or to enhance endurance. Also, given the short amount of time required, you’re less likely to give yourself the gym skipping excuse.


What is circuit training

The concept behind circuit training is that the exerciser performs multiple exercises, each focussing on a different body part, in a row or at least with as little rest as possible between sets. For example, a person might perform a set of walking lunges, followed by a set of overhead presses, followed by some bicep curls etc.

We can spilt the training methods into one of two basic categories, these being horizontal training and vertical training. With horizontal training, all sets of one exercise are performed before a person moves on to the next. Whereas with vertical training, one set of every different type of exercise is performed before returning to an exercise for the second time.

The specific exercises involved, variations in technique and level of resistance/intensity will ultimately be dependant on the person performing the circuit, their ability level, and their reason for training. For example, the circuit may be setup to be sports specific, or it may be designed for general fitness conditioning. The factor that all circuits have in common is the idea that little to no rest is taken between each set.


Circuit Training Benefits

There are a variety of benefits to this method of training. Mostly the benefits will depend on the individual circuit and the comprising exercises. However the most obvious benefits are:

  • Time efficiency

  • Great for weight loss

  • Improvements in conditioning

  • Improvements in muscular endurance

  • Circuits can be performed anywhere



There is no magic solution, or one method fits all when it comes to working out, and as with any training method, circuit training does have it’s share of disadvantages.

  • Circuit training is not ideal for improving strength. You will never bench press at optimum performance immediately after a set of walking lunges, or squats etc.

  • Circuit training requires space. At busy periods in the gym, space is often more valuable than gold.

  • Performed correctly, circuit training requires the exerciser to have a certain base level of fitness. Those with high blood pressure or heart conditions should avoid this type of training.



Circuit training is a great tool for improving weight loss and muscular endurance, but not so great for serious gains in muscle mass and levels of strength.

*The views and/or opinions expressed in the blogs are not necessarily those of Training Nation, but of the author

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