What is Circuit Weight Training?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Circuit weight training is an approach to physical fitness that involves quick bursts of exercise with minimal intervals between each burst. The “circuit” in the term is a reference to the fact that people usually move around a circuit to access different types of weight training equipment during their exercise sessions. People complete at least three circuits in a session. This type of exercise program can be done in a gym or at home and it is possible to develop a customized circuit with the assistance of a physical trainer.

Circuit weigh training involves quick bursts of exercise.
Circuit weigh training involves quick bursts of exercise.

Weight training is intended to act as a supplement to other forms of exercise. In weight training sessions, people lift weights to develop strength and muscle tone. Circuit weight training adds an aerobic element, which provides a cardiovascular workout. People who engage in circuit weight training can lose weight, add muscle tone, and improve their cardiovascular health. In addition, this form of exercise also enhances endurance.

In weight training sessions, people lift weights to develop strength and muscle tone.
In weight training sessions, people lift weights to develop strength and muscle tone.

In a circuit, people lift weights, work with resistance machines, or do aerobics moves that work different areas of the body. Between stations, exercisers take a 10 to 30 second rest, during which they usually keep moving by doing something like jogging in place. This keeps the heart rate up and the muscles warm. The weight lifted at each station can be adjusted depending on the needs of the athlete. People trying to lose weight and enhance tone might lift light weights and go for many repetitions, while people developing bigger muscles would use heavier weights and fewer repetitions.

A weight training circuit can be customized for the needs of a specific athlete. Evidence supports the use of circuit weight training for people at varying levels of physical fitness and the ability to tailor the circuit allows for a great deal of flexibility. This form of exercise can enhance a physical therapy program, promote weight loss, and develop strength and endurance for athletes involved in a wide variety of sports.

As with all exercise programs, it is advisable to consult a doctor before starting circuit weight training, in case there are contraindications that might make it dangerous. It is also advisable to work with a personal trainer to develop a routine and learn how to exercise safely and effectively. Personal trainers can provide advice on form and style that will help people maximize their workouts. Gyms that have an open area for circuit weight training may station an employee there to keep an eye on workouts and provide assistance and advice as needed.

Lifting lighter weights a greater number of times is a good strategy for weight loss.
Lifting lighter weights a greater number of times is a good strategy for weight loss.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My favorite thing about circuit training is that it is a great way to use body weight exercises. And you can do body weight circuit training anywhere, you don't need a gym or lots of fancy equipment.

I have been doing different variations on a body weight circuit for about a year and I am in some of the best shape of my life. My body is lean and strong and I didn't develop that fleshy over muscled look that a lot of gym guys have.


I love circuit training because of the variety and the results. I have been working out for years but I could never seem to loose the last 15 pounds that it would take for me to be really ripped. Once I started a circuit weight training program I lost the weight and got the kind of lean strong body that I have always wanted.

Variety is the key to a good workout so I am always looking for new circuit training exercise to work into my routine. There are hundreds of different lifts, movements and variations that you can configure into thousands of combinations. It's enough workouts to last you a lifetime.


For my time, circuit workouts are the best way to train. The biggest benefit to them is that they combine strength training and cardio into one dynamic routine.

I think if you are going to be working out and really going for something you have to be panting and sweating. I see so many guys at the gym spend upwards of an hour there and never break a sweat. How hard are you really pushing your body?

Circuit workout develop real, applicable strength. The movements engage the entire body and they promote endurance as well as strength. If you want to take your level of fitness to the next level make a serious commitment to a circuit weight training workout.

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