Circuit training combines a variety of cardiovascular, calisthenics, and weight training exercises into one routine. Movement between each exercise station is fast-paced, with little or no rest between each exercise to keep the heart rate elevated. After all exercises in a routine are complete, the “circuit” is repeated. Circuit training combines resistance training and cardiovascular exercise by keeping a fast pace. Although circuit training may be completed in a gym, it is possible to do circuit training at home using no special equipment.
An advantage to circuit training is that it provides a full-body workout. A complete circuit training workout should have as many stations as necessary to work all major muscle groups, depending on goals. Some examples of exercises suitable for circuit training at home are pull-ups, jumping jacks, squats with hand weights, planks, burpees, and push-ups. This combination of exercises targets the upper and lower body, the abdominals, and the cardiovascular system. It can be helpful to plan and write down several exercise circuits before doing them and keep a log of completed routines to track progress.
Before doing circuit training at home, the participant should identify personal goals. Most often, exercisers want to increase fitness, endurance, lose weight, or build strength and muscle mass. Frequently, the goal is a combination of two or more of these. In general, circuit training will provide all of these benefits, but the routines may be adjusted to accommodate specific goals.
Exercising for weight loss requires a longer-duration workout that burns as many calories as possible and lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. Individual exercises should use light weights, if any, and more repetitions of each exercise before moving on to the next exercise. If heart-health or general fitness is the goal, the workout does not need to be as long as a weight-loss workout, but should last a minimum of 30 minutes. Exercises should be performed at a pace in which the exerciser is breathing hard but can still carry on a conversation.
If the goal is to build strength and muscle mass, the workout should be 60 to 90 minutes in duration, but should have more stations than a weight-loss circuit training routine. Exercises should use heavier weights so that fewer repetitions are able to be performed. Cardiovascular-only stations are not needed.
When circuit training at home, routines may be performed either indoors or outside. Backyard swing sets can be useful for performing pull-ups or hanging knee raises. Climbing stairs can become a cardiovascular exercise. When exercising at home, the options are endless and perhaps, best of all, there is no waiting for a machine to be free.