A circuit is a series or sequence of exercises which can train cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, and strength. The athlete performs the work listed at each station and then rotates on to the next station. Circuit training can be a fun and motivational method when integrated properly into the training program.
Basics of Circuit Training
Depending on the intent of the circuit, the level of intensity can be changed to produce the desired training effect. Decreasing the amount of time to perform the task is one method of increasing the intensity. Another alternative is to keep the time to same, but increase the reps or sets of the exercise. Finally, the amount of rest between exercises or stations can be decreased.
As the level of conditioning increases, the number of stations can increase accordingly. Some coaches may even desire to add further cardiorespiratory training by inserting jogging or similar aerobic stations between the other exercises.
Stations are set up to alternate bodypart exercises. Circuit training can be a stressful training method as it is, so avoid performing bodypart exercises consecutively. For variety and interest, change the circuit regularly or go in the reverse direction of the circuit.
Benefits of Circuit Training
1) The circuit can be varied with the athlete's level of conditioning.
2) It can involve speed, strength, flexibility, and endurance training.
3) Circuit training is primarily anaerobic, but high reps and short rest use the aerobic system as well.
4) It can easily be changed to add or delete sets, reps, exercises, or time.
5) Once it is organized, it virtually goes by itself.
6) More can train at one time.
7) More work can be accomplished in less time.
8) The circuit can be set up with or without equipment.
It is only limited by the equipment and facilities available and to the imagination of the coach.
There are four basic types of circuits:
Each one works on a different component of fitness. The coach should use all four varieties in his training program.
Fixed Load Circuit
In this circuit the amount of work done (load) is constant. The athlete improves by reducing the amount of time it takes to complete the training. This is an excellent way to introduce circuit training. The number of exercises used range from 5 to 15 and the number of reps from 5 to 30. One, two, or three laps through the exercises can be done in a workout. Rest intervals between laps in the circuit can be individualized, depending on the athlete's condition. Times can be recorded to motivate the lifter to do better next time.
When equipment is used, the coach is advised to be careful of bottle-necks. This is where several athletes have to wait to do their exercises because the equipment at that station isn't available. A couple of things you can do to help this is to stagger starting times so that the athlete has a chance to get ahead of later starters, and so designate "fast lanes" for the athletes in better shape who will move through the station quickly.
Progression can be made by:
a) increasing the number of reps per exercise
b) with weights, increasing the poundage
c) in freehand exercises, change the angle of the body to make the exercise tougher (e.g., Pushups; feet on floor to feet on chair).
This circuit is based on the individual's ability to do a particular exercise. Ten exercises are usually used. The maximum number of repetitions done in a minute is determined for each exercise. This number is divided in half and that number becomes the training load. The athlete in his workout does 3 circuits of the 10 exercises. When the total workout time gets down to 10 minutes, new one-minute maximums are determined and new training loads set.
In this circuit the time is set. The lifters are required to perform as many reps as possible within that time period. Speed of movement is important, so light weights are used. The exercises can be done in two ways. The first is to do all the exercises in 15 to 30 second bouts, one right after the other, then rest a prescribed time. The other method is to do a 30 second period on one exercise, then rest 15 seconds before going on to the next exercise. With either type, three laps through the circuit should be the goal.
This circuit requires the athlete to use heavier weights in training. The workload is based on the lifter's best for one rep in each exercise chosen. Eight exercises are usually done in this type of training. The weight percentage used varies from 30% to 70% of the one rep maximum. Generally 12 repetitions are done in each exercise. The lifter is timed in doing from 1 to 2 laps through the circuit. The circuit can be made progressively tougher by adding weight or reps with the original time reduced by two-thirds (e.g., A lifter takes 15 minutes to do 3 laps with 40% weights at his first workout. After a month of so he can do it in under 10 minutes. He should have the weight increased to 50% or have 5 reps added to each exercise.) It is important that the weight used doesn't go over 70%. This is because power is the blending of speed and strength. Using weights above 70% will slow the athlete down.
EXAMPLES OF CIRCUIT CONSTRUCTION
1.) Fixed Load Circuit - Without Equipment
Pushup x 12 reps
Tuck Jumps x 15
Situps x 15
Pushups, feet up x 10
Squat Jumps x 12
Pike Situps x 10
Burpees x 12
Hyperextensions x 10
Bouncing Pushups x 10
Pike Jumps x 10
(Note: Exercises for the various bodyparts are alternated to avoid fatiguing any one muscle group.
2) Fixed Load Circuit With Equipment
Dips x 10
Burpees x 12
Situps x 15
Hyperextensions x 12
Jumps Onto Bench x 10
Shuttle Sprints 10M x 10
Dips With Feet Supported x 12
Jumps Over Bench, side to side x 20
Leg Raises x 15
Chins x 10
(Note: Target Circuits are set up in the same manner with time being fixed and repetitions recorded.)
3) Power Circuit
Press Behind Neck, Snatch Grip x 12
Rowing x 12
Squat x 12
Upright Row x 12
Good Mornings x 12
Front Squat x 12
Bench Press x 12
Situps x 12
Stiff Legged Deadlift x 12
As mentioned earlier, the different types of circuits produce different results. It is possible, and even desirable, for the coach to combine ideas to create different results. To add more endurance-type training, the coach may include running in the circuit. An example of this would be to add a 30-second run after each exercise station in a Fixed Load or a Target Circuit. The coach may also combine all four types into one workout. Here is an example:
Power Snatch, 6 reps with 60% (Power)
Good Morning, 8 reps with 60% (Power)
Squat Jumps, Max in 15 seconds (Target)
Bench Press, 6 reps with 60% (Power)
Rowing, 8 reps with 60% (Power)
Pushups, 15 reps (Fixed Load)
Squat, 10 reps with 60% (Power)
Upright Row, 8 reps with 60% (Power)
Step-ups to Bench, 25 reps (Individual)
Situps, 15 reps (Fixed Load)
SAMPLE CIRCUITS FOR WEIGHTLIFTERS
by Istvan Javorek
The goal of these two circuits is to develop muscle tone, improve vital capacity and increase precious bodily fluids, to correct body positions and to develop specific and general endurance. Circuit 1 stresses muscular endurance, while Circuit 2 emphasizes strength and power, and improves vital capacity.
Upright Row x 6 reps
Snatch High Pull x 6 reps
Push Press Behind Neck x 6 reps
Good Morning x 10 reps
Bentover Row x 8 reps
In the off-season daily 4 sets, every second day, alternate with Circuit #2.
Upright Row x 3 reps
Snatch High Pull x 3 reps
Push Press Behind Neck x 3 reps
Good Morning x 5 reps
Bentover Row x 3 reps
In the off season daily 4 sets, every second day, alternate with Circuit #1.