Circuit Training: A circuit is 4 or more movements put together in sequence. Other movement combination definitions include:
- 1 movement is an exercise;
- 2 movements put together is a superset;
- 3 movements put together are a superset; and
- 4 or more movements put together is a circuit.
It is important to understand the purpose of the circuit. Making the participants tired does not necessarily make it a good circuit.
Goals of circuit training
The basic goals of circuit training are to:
- Develop strength endurance;
- Increase work capacity;
- Enable large groups of people to train at one time; and
- Target specific areas or physical qualities.
Principle of circuit training
A basic principle to remember is strength before strength endurance. In order to endure strength clients must have strength first. Ie. Master the exercise before adding an endurance component.
Circuits can be based on:
- Reps; or
Circuit training design guidelines
Use these guidelines for creating circuits:
- Tailored to individual needs and rates of improvements.
- Strenuous enough to be effective.
- Use simple exercises as skill will break down under fatigue. If complex exercises are used, they should be put early in the circuit.
- Standardized in order for clients to know what he or she is doing and to measure progress.
- Bias or alternate movements.
Circuits are typically progressed using these three steps:
- Start simple: body weight before external resistance
- Add body parts and movements
- Add equipment or implements
Circuits for general fitness
When using circuits for general fitness one method that works well is to rotate 3 different categories of movements. An upper body movement, a core movement, and a lower body movement. The circuit will go through each category several times and will also use movements in all three of the planes: sagittal, frontal, and transverse, creating a balanced program. A cardio component can also be incorporated: biking, rowing, skipping, or running.
Each movement can be prescribed for a set amount of time. For example, 45 seconds on 15 seconds off. Or for the weightlifting movements three movements in a row for 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off followed by 60 seconds of a cardio
Burpees, mountain climbers, etc within athletic team circuits aren’t necessarily the best option because they don’t make athletes better at anything for the specific sport. However, when developing circuits for the general population these types of movements can be good. They add variety and uniqueness to the client’s training. E.g. farmer’s walk; bottoms up waiter’s carry; extra heavy sled pushes; or sled drags.
Remember that there should be a reason for prescribing every exercise.
The Fit Education Certificate III in Fitness covers circuit training and includes all specialisation units for you to work as either a Gym Instructor or Group Fitness Instructor.