What are the Different Types of Circuit Training Routines?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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There are three main types of circuit training routines — timed, competition and sport specific. Timed is probably the most common although doesn’t provide the most intensive workout. Circuit training involves performing a number of different exercises for a certain period of time — often in a relatively short time period. The main benefits of circuit training routines are that many different areas of the body can be targeted with a single workout and boredom is less likely due to the variation in exercise.

Timed training is the most basic type of circuit training routine but is still effective. Each exercise is performed for a certain amount of time with a strictly controlled break in between each stage. As an example, the athlete may perform three minutes of jogging followed by a 30-second rest before moving onto three minutes of sit-ups. Often the length of each exercise is the same for each stage but adjustments can be made for specific exercises.

Competition training provides a workout of greater intensity than timed training. To perform a competition circuit, the athlete should perform as many repetitions of each exercise in the time allowed before moving onto the next. Competition training can also be used as a way of motivating athletes of a similar fitness level to put as much as possible into a training session. Over time the athlete should look to increase the number of repetitions performed at each stage.


Sport specific circuit training follows a similar pattern to timed training but involves exercises which are important for a certain sport. For example, soccer circuit training routines may involve a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, leg strengthening and ball control. To mimic the demands of sporting activity it’s often useful to include gentle jogs in between each exercise rather than a total rest. As with all types of circuit training routines it’s essential to warm up properly before starting.

When designing a circuit training routine a number of different factors should be taken into account. For example, the current fitness of an athlete performing the routine should be considered. This is where timed circuit training routines can be useful as the circuit isn’t dependent on the amount of repetitions and hence is easily adaptable to a specific person’s fitness level. Other considerations include which muscles should be targeted throughout the training routine and whether weight training should be included along with cardiovascular exercise.



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