Circuit training for fitness | The benefits, how to do it and workouts to try

Phil Goulding Phil Goulding Nuffield Health Senior Personal Trainer
Circuit training is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength endurance. Nuffield Health Senior Personal Trainer Phil Goulding explains how it works, what you can expect and the best ways to fit it into your week.

If you haven't heard of circuit training, it's a combination of six or more exercises performed with short rest periods between them for either a set number of repetitions or a prescribed amount of time. One circuit is when all of the chosen exercises have been completed, but a session can include multiple circuits.

Circuit training will usually involve 6-12 exercises and should be structured in a way that enables you to keep performing the exercises with good technique and very short rest intervals.

  • If you're looking for a circuit to try out, give this HIIT workout a go:

What are the benefits of circuit training?

One of the main benefits of circuit training is that it's time efficient, which makes it a popular method of training if you have a busy lifestyle. In a single session, you can work areas across the body as well as develop cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength endurance.

Circuit training will elevate your heart rate and keep it high through the entire circuit due to the short rest periods and can allow you to train large muscles muscle groups together through a combination of upper, lower and whole body exercises.

An appropriate exercise selection and structure to the circuit will mean that you can move from one exercise to the next with an adequate amount of rest. By combining cardiovascular training and weight training you'll also get a varied workout.

Circuit training is favoured by many because no two circuit training workouts are identical. The exercises within circuit training vary depending on a person’s ability level and fitness goals – which can be altered to help reach the needs of the individual.

Who is circuit training for?

Circuit training is best used by intermediate trainees who have already established good technique with a wide variety of exercises and have a good baseline level of strength and fitness.

Beginners may be overwhelmed due to short recovery periods and the variety of exercises involved. If you're a beginner and wish to participate in circuit training, speak to one of our Personal Trainers who can adapt the workout with suitable weight selections and exercises to for your ability level.

Circuit training is a great choice if you get easily bored, are short on time or don’t like to train alone. It can involve as much or little equipment as you like which makes it ideal for group training and those with limited space.

Prefer to exercise with a friend? Try this full body circuit-style workout to improve your muscular endurance, heart health and support weight loss.

Try this bodyweight circuit training workout

Perform this workout in a gym or at home. Grab a water bottle, leave plenty of space around you and get give it a go.

You can complete the exercises with your bodyweight or add additional weights to increase the difficulty.

Duration and reps: 30-second work / 30-second rest between each exercise | 3 rounds with a 3-minute rest between rounds:

  • Jumping squat 
  • Push up
  • Skydivers
  • V sits
  • High knees
  • Jumping lunge
  • Plank to push up
  • YTW
  • Side plank rotations
  • Lateral skaters

Last updated Tuesday 4 April 2023

First published on Wednesday 30 December 2016