circuit training

What is Circuit Training?: How to Train and Why, Slimming And Toning, Strength And Endurance


What is Circuit Training?

For many, circuit training (circuit training or circuit training) is an ideal type of workout to combine weight loss and toning. However, the characteristics of this method are much more numerous, many of which are advantageous, even if with some critical points that should not be underestimated; we will go into further detail later on.


However, circuit training is a generic wording, because the combinations, variations, interpretations and customizations of circuit training are truly endless. Any system that provides for the organization of a route with fixed stations can be defined as a training circuit. Some examples of derived or similar methods are: aerobic circuit training or cardio fit training, PHA , cardio PHA, spot reduction, etc.

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Circuit training can be used for several purposes. Below we will propose the reasons that most frequently push sportsmen and bodybuilders to exploit it in ordinary programming .

Slimming And Toning

Circuit Training To Combine Weight Loss And Toning

The most recent research shows that, among the various motor physical activity programs to lose weight , those that “work best” are of the promiscuous type, i.e. divided between aerobic and anaerobic activity , spaced out between low and high intensity peaks (High Intensity Interval Training). Circuit training is an excellent way to alternate blocks of medium or low-effort aerobic activity with HIIT stations , even in calisthenics ( bodyweight ).

Aerobic activity favors the consumption of reserve energy substrates such as glycogen and fatty acids, optimizing glucose metabolism and directly reducing the trophism of adipose tissue , while high-intensity executions increase oxygen debt and improve muscle tone – sometimes stimulating even hypertrophy, depending on the method.

However, it would be useless to adopt even the toughest of circuit training without an appropriate food strategy. Weight loss is the consequence of a negative energy balance, i.e. the arithmetic result of [ Energy IN – Energy OUT]; it means that the calories taken in with the diet must be lower than those consumed with training.

It is therefore possible to increase – generally significantly – the expenditure of energy substrates . However, weight loss occurs only when the diet remains the same as when you were sedentary, or in any case increases slightly. This may seem obvious to most readers but, in truth, it is far from obvious.

Physical exercise, it is known, determines a greater sensation of appetite ; it is due to the reduction of glycemia and the depletion of glycogen reserves – especially in the liver. Therefore, if on the one hand practicing sport helps us to consume more, on the other it enhances the appetite and hunger stimulus. It therefore becomes essential to maintain a certain self-control, without falling into overestimation of how much you may have “burned” during the session. In this case, the intervention of a dietician could be essential, who will organize the food plan by differentiating the days without training from those of training.

Furthermore, if organized at high intensity, circuit training has a prevalent consumption of carbohydrates compared to fats, with a high involvement of anaerobic lactic acid metabolism . The slimming effect can therefore be obtained directly by exploiting the EPOC (oxygen debt), as much as indirectly thanks to a superior tolerance to dietary carbohydrates (greater insulin sensitivity and muscle “greed”). Direct weight loss is obtained mainly thanks to EPOC, i.e. on the lipid oxidation that occurs after the interruption of training; the training load is so high(volume + intensity), the greater the oxygen debt and therefore the post-workout basal metabolic rate . Indirect weight loss, on the other hand, which exploits the greater ability to metabolise dietary carbohydrates, is supported by two independent conditions:

  • the first is of the acute type, post exercise and linked to EPOC, and is called the ” anabolic window “. It takes advantage of the greater muscular greed for carbohydrates (and not only) which, in the very first minutes (15′) after training, is even of the insulin-independent type ; in the following 45′ instead, it exploits the conventional insulin – glut4 system but with a very high affinity. Over time, this decreases more and more until it reaches the baseline condition
  • the second instead, of the basal type, is represented by a greater efficiency of the general glucidic metabolism , thanks to constant and effective training.

To obtain a sufficient EPOC and anabolic window, however, it is necessary to achieve a very high level of training, which occurs only after many weeks or months from the beginning of the activity. Losing weight, therefore, is a chronologically secondary objective, also wanting a consequence, of general muscular and metabolic conditioning.

Strength And Endurance

Circuit Training As A Combination Of Strength And Endurance Training

To date, any type of training can be defined as “complete” only if it consists of anaerobic, aerobic and muscle flexibility – joint mobility sessions. Of course, the percentage and importance of each depends on the objective; a bodybuilder cannot devote too much energy to cardio-vascular training (not even in the cutting phase ), just as a cross-country skier should only marginally engage in strengthening workouts (necessary for the preservation of muscle mass). Finally, with the exception of the disciplines that require advanced performance, muscle flexibility and joint mobility must be managed in such a way as to optimize a medium-sized condition but without taking away space from the programming body.

Especially in the athletic preparations of advanced sportsmen, each session can contain tables with different objectives, reaching a duration that exceeds 120′. On the other hand, this becomes rather complicated in the case of amateur fitness, wellness and aesthetic culture neophytes – both for reasons of time and for reasons of excessive fatigue. On the other hand, how can you blame them. There are very few people capable of inserting 60-90′ of resistance training and 45-60′ of aerobic activity in the same day; let alone in the same workout.

With the only flaw of significantly increasing the training density, therefore the general metabolic fatigue in the unit of time, circuit training can solve this problem. Taking a small example: suppose you have to respect a strengthening schedule of the normal duration of 80′, of which at least 40′ are made up of passive recoveries between series and repetitions, warm-up and cool-down. This time, necessary for the tired area to recover, is invested in circuit training to perform aerobic activity. If each exercise (of which at least 3 series will be performed) constituted a position of the circuit, this would have at least 9 positions. After each series, instead of stopping, 3-4′ of aerobic activity should therefore be performed – such as running , even on a treadmill , exercise bike , jumping rope , rowing machine, stepper , excite, elliptical , etc. All repeated 3 times. Definitely comfortable and practical.

Furthermore, in those who do not use performance-enhancing substances, prolonged and intense aerobic activity can impede growth, worsen recovery or even induce a slight catabolism of muscle mass – in particular that directly involved, such as the legs in running. Circuit training, for its part, hardly allows you to reach such intensities as to structure a real protocol of mass or pure strength . On the other hand, given its properties, in the same context it is excellent during cutting periods, in which it is necessary to increase energy expenditure while maintaining the intensity of weight trainingnonetheless significant.

Resistant Force

Circuit Training For Endurance Strength

Not to be confused with the previous point. Resistance strength , which differs according to duration – short, long, etc. – is an athletic characteristic in its own right.

There’s not much to say about it; to develop endurance strength it is necessary to perform sessions of several minutes of the same exercise. Since the total exhaustion of each muscle district does not allow for effective training volumes to be achieved, it is advisable to reduce the load and perform more series. Obviously, assuming a suitable recovery, if there are more than one districts, the session could become longer than necessary. By playing on density, i.e. alternating each exercise as a station of the circuit, and performing several laps of the same, it is possible to optimize the workout both in terms of effectiveness and practicality.

Youth Training

Circuit Training For Youth Training

For twenty or perhaps thirty years now, the youth categories – under 16 years of age – have no longer been trained with the use of large overloads. The reasons would be mainly related to some clichés, such as the rumor that weight lifting is able to hinder the growth of height .

However, it should be specified that, especially in the 70s and 80s, there was an abuse, or rather a mismanagement, of weights in youth training . The result was an increase in injuries, a reduction in the duration of the sports career and more.

It is therefore a good thing that the younger ones have to handle less cast iron; fun, basic motor skills and technical characteristics are certainly more important. On the other hand, it would be hypocritical to ignore the world of competition. In certain sports that many define as “poor”, such as rowing for example, it is essential to progressively educate muscles , tendons and joints to move loads that go beyond the ordinary ones.

In these circumstances, circuit training of all kinds, better if mixed between calisthenics and with equipment, timed or with number of repetitions, with or without passive recovery breaks, perhaps interspersed with aerobic activity, may be the most suitable solution.


Example Of Circuit Training For Weight Loss And Toning Of A Beginner

Now let’s see an example of circuit training intended for toning the muscles of the thighs and buttocks , and for the loss of excess kilos .

Bikes 5 minutes
Glute bridge 1 x 20
Crunches 1 x 20
Vertical row 1 x 20
Steppers 4 minutes
Take off 1 x 15
Reverse crunches 1 x 15
Chest press 1 x 15
Synchro 3 minutes
Abductor machine 1 x 15
Adductor machine 1 x 15
Uphill walking (7-12%) 5 minutes
Walking dumbbell lunges 1 x 24 steps
racline 4 minutes

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