Circuit Success: How to Set Up a Circuit Workout in Your Gym

 |  Brett Labistour
Fitness is big business. In fact, last year it became a $30 billion industry in the United States. Clearly, the gym has never been so popular. People around the world are more determined than ever to prioritize their health and fitness. But not all workouts were created equal. Opinions abound at what it. Circuit training is a form of workout that offers insane gains. It’s quick, fast-paced, high-intensity, and gets your muscles and heart working like few other forms of exercise. The benefits to your overall health are great. It’s backed by science too. For instance, this study found that circuits improved the muscular and cardiovascular endurance of school kids. It’s safe to assume it’s good for us oldies as well! What makes a great circuit workout though? Keep reading to find out what it takes.

What’s Circuit Training?

Let’s take a quick first look at what we mean by circuit training. Circuits entail a warm-up, before progressing through a series of exercises (known as stations) and ending with a cooldown. There’s no break in between stations, and you decide how many times you go around them all. You may have 6 stations, and repeat the circuit three times. You decide the number of stations and the overall length of the session. Strength training meets cardiovascular exercise. Done right and these combine into a heart-pumping, lung-busting, leg-burning, muscle-growing beauty of a workout.

5 Key Components of the Perfect Circuit Workout

A poorly designed gym circuit will have your clients literally going round in circles. Here’s how to create the perfect circuit.

1. Decide the Timings

Circuit training doesn’t last as long as other workouts. Its high paced intensity means it isn’t necessary, or as feasible. With that in mind, you should try to decide how long you want the overall session to last. Your job is to get through as many stations as possible in that given time limit. That’s why it’s important to establish the length of the session in advance. Having an idea of time means clients know how hard to push on any given station. Short session ahead? Push harder. Long session? Pace yourself better. Likewise, it’s helpful in terms of organization. Starting with a time limit helps you decide how many stations to include, and how many reps should be undertaken. Thirty minutes is typical. However, adjust according to your needs.

2. Decide the Goal

You should never rely on a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to a circuit. The best circuits contain exercises relevant to a particular goal. That means you should endeavor to define the goal before selecting the exercises to include. Want a strength-training session with lots of upper-body work? How about a heart-pumping cardio-heavy session? Figure out what you want from the session and go forward accordingly. Goals will also depend on the experience and fitness levels of you and/or your clientele. Be sure to keep these in mind when establishing your circuits.

3. Decide the Warm Up

Start a training session with cold muscles is a recipe for injury. Begin every session with a warm-up. Go through the muscle groups you’re likely to use in the session ahead. Then design a relevant warm-up. Warm-ups usually entail some level of stretching, light cardio, and light exercises. This isn’t about wearing our muscles. Far from it. You merely want to get the blood flowing to the requisite areas of the body.

4. Decide the Exercises

The stations themselves are the most crucial component of the circuit. Pay close attention to the exercises you include. Remember, first and foremost they should be based upon your goals. From there, get creative! What you decide may depend on the resources at your disposal. Do you have a full gym, with machines, free weights, and masses of space? Or are you restricted to a few dumbbells, mats and ropes? Whatever you have, try to hit the upper and lower body, and include core and compound exercises throughout. Here’s a long list of circuit workout exercises to give you some ideas. Rests are essential in circuits too, and more often than not they’re active rests. Think about how you can rest following a round of exercises while keeping the heart rate up. Remember that circuits don’t need to be spectacularly complex. They may simply involve a number of body-weight exercises, which anyone could do in their home.

5. Set Up the Stations

With everything decided, it’s time to set the stations up. Again, this will depend somewhat on the space and resources available to you. You need to be resourceful when you have limited space and a number of people in the circuit. Lay out all the fitness equipment you need. Ensure there’s enough space around each station so that people can get through the exercises safely. Depending on the number of people in your group, you may require multiple sets of each exercise. Keep in mind the differing strengths and capabilities of your group. For example, it’s no good having a resistance band of one size/strength. Less experienced people simply won’t be able to do it. Include a mixture of weights and resistances to cater for everyone. Having a range of weight options means you can drop weight and complete the station whenever fatigue kicks in.

Time to Get Circuiting

There you have it: what circuit training is, and how to set up an awesome circuit workout in your gym. The fitness industry is booming. More and more people are going to the gym to meet their health, strength and fitness goals. Circuit training is one particular form of workout that’s growing in popularity. People love circuits for their fast-paced, high-intensity approach. However, you need to know what goes into a quality circuit to make it an enjoyable, useful experience. Hopefully, the information above has helped in that endeavor! Did you like this piece? Click here to read all of our articles about the latest fitness trends happening right now.

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