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Is Circuit Training for You?

All about circuit training

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Updated October 30, 2007

If you're looking for something to spice up your workouts, have you thought about circuit training? This type of training can be versatile and it moves quickly because you're going from one exercise to another instead of doing continuous cardio or straight set training with weights. You can do all strength circuits, all cardio circuits or a mixture of the two for a challenging, calorie-burning workout.

How It Works

Circuit training combines 8-10 exercises that are completed one right after the other, with little or no rest in between. Perform each exercise for a specified time (like 1 minute), rest for no more than 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. Once you complete all exercises, that is considered one circuit. The total number of circuits you complete is up to you. For beginners, start with 30 seconds per exercise and increase the time as you get stronger. Another way to progress is to shorten your rest in between exercises and circuits.

To start, use the following criteria for choosing your exercises:

1. Pick exercises to work each muscle group.
2. Include exercises for agility and endurance (like jumping side-to-side over a phone book)
3. Don't forget to work on your speed too. Incorporate sprints (if you can) or fast jogging in place.

Now, following this criteria, pick six exercises, write them down on a piece of paper and then take a moment to figure out how you'll do your workout. If you're working out at home, there are lots of options for you to choose from, such as running up and down the stairs, sprinting around the block, chasing your two-year-old...etc.

Specific Training

Circuit training is great for beginners just getting started. Why? Because it allows you to build some total body strength while also working on your endurance. This can be great for a number of sports as long as you perform exercises specifically for what you want to accomplish.

Regardless of your goals, circuit training can be a great workout simply because of the variety. Running on a treadmill for 30 minutes or doing the same old machines can get boring over time. If you find you're losing interest in your routine or that you've hit a plateau, think circuit training.

What You Need to Get Started

1. A good pair of shoes.
2. Some great workout music.
3. A workout to follow.
4. Very understanding neighbors...

For more, check out these other circuit workouts which include a wide variety of options, from cardio to strength training:

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