Use circuit training to improve overall fitness

Dec. 5, 2011 at 6:05 a.m.
Updated Dec. 6, 2011 at 6:06 a.m.

The holiday season is upon us, and you may be looking for a fun and motivating way to burn off those additional calories you may be consuming.

The temperatures have also started to fall off a bit, and you may be finding yourself moving your workouts indoors.

Don't let the holidays be a deterrent to staying in shape, use circuit training to gain fitness and get through the holidays without the typical weight gain.

Defining circuit fitness

Circuit training is a type of interval training workout in which strengthening exercises are combined with aerobic-type activities.

A 'circuit' refers to a specific group of exercises and a number of 'stations' that are performed in quick succession during the course of the workout session.

Exercise machines, free weights, resistance bands, and medicine balls can all be utilized for the strength portion of the workout.

The interval segments involving the cardiovascular system can be done through running, jumping jacks, boxing, drill work, or other types of aerobic activities.

Many fitness professionals would agree circuit training is one of the best ways to burn fat and calories and is one of the most time efficient ways to work the whole body.

The typical length of this type of workout is 30-45 minutes, and you can tailor it to make it more specific towards your athletic goals.

"The type of circuit training we offer here is the 'chipper' method, where you combine a circuit of three or more exercises and 'chip' away at them over the course of an hour," Isaac Almeida, owner of crossfit training facility Fit Strong United said. "This type of training is excellent due to the way it activates fast-twitch muscle fibers and offers anaerobic training.

"It trains you to use all of your body parts at once, rather than breaking it down. That transfers over to any type of sport, and even everyday life."

There are two typical types of circuit training workouts.

A higher intensity workout with less rest between stations provides for maximum caloric output and the highest level of muscle fatigue in the shortest amount of time.

A lower intensity circuit training workout is less intense with more of an emphasis on the weight training portion, and a slowed-down aerobic segment. This type of workout allows more time for muscle recovery.

Circuit training benefits

When looking at how a circuit training program compares to other types of workouts, you will find a few additional benefits to this type of workout.

One benefit of performing this type of workout is high level of caloric output in proportion to time spent at the gym.

It's also a great way to gain overall fitness and muscle conditioning.

In addition, this type of high intensity circuit training can help increase lactate threshold and build muscle endurance.

If you have never tried circuit training before, it's always a good idea to seek out the advice of the fitness professional at your health club to get started.

Also, make sure that you ease into this type of workout, especially if you have not been working out on a consistent basis.

Hiring a personal trainer is one of the best ways to ensure you are working out in an appropriate manner and also that you are getting the most out of your workouts over the long haul.

Circuit training results

I recently incorporated crossfit and circuit training into my training regiment, actually supplementing my workouts when my back flared up and I had to stop running for five weeks.

What I have found is I have felt stronger during my swims and bikes,. When I recently competed in a 5K over the weekend after having only being in the running realm for a little over a week, I actually ran faster than I have in the past few years for that distance.

The Cooper Institute had this to say about circuit training: "It's the most scientifically proven exercise system. It's time efficient and incorporates strength, flexibility, and cardio in the same workout."

Circuit training is the best way to get an overall body workout, and you don't have to use expensive gym equipment.

This type of workout can be done in any size workout area and can be adapted toward specificity in any sport.

Missy Janzow owns Fit4U, a personalized training and nutrition service. You can reach her by email at or online at



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