What is circuit training designed for?
Well, if you want to increase your fitness level while also developing a degree of strength and muscle tone, then circuit training might be something you need to consider. Circuit training methodology is said to have been developed by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson in 1953 at the University of Leeds in England; the method now spans the whole spectrum of the fitness industry. There are elite level athletes who primarily use circuit training to maintain the foundation of their very specialized sport specific training programs. Keep fit enthusiasts who utilize this training method to become fitter or maintain their fitness level and still others who use this method to lose or maintain their body weight. It is also the basis of the current exercise craze called “Maximum Intensive Interval Training” or MIIT for short.
Circuit training is a way of grouping together several different carefully selected exercises. These exercises are executed consecutively one after the other in a way which simultaneously develops both strength and endurance. Each exercise is called a “station” and in the original format, 9-12 stations constituted a circuit. You would complete each exercise and move from one station to another with little or no rest between each. Each exercise would be performed for a set number of repetitions or for a particular length of time. The original format of circuit training used barbells as the resistance element of the exercise, where 40% – 60% of your one repetition maximum (1RM) was use as the load.
Nowadays, other methods of expressing the resistance for a circuit are used. For example, body weight is a favourite method used by many participants today, but you can also create a circuit training program utilizing exercise machines, dumbbells or small hand held weights and elastic resistance.
From what has been said, you can see that the answer to the question “what is circuit training about” is a relatively easy one. As a general fitness protocol the exercise method works well for many sports. However, the question of how effective the training method is can be open to debate. Over the years a lot of research has been carried out regarding this method’s effectiveness in improving aerobic capacity and the development of muscular strength.
Most of the research into the effectiveness of circuit training was carried out using the design of the original methodology (30 seconds work/rest ratios, with a weights resistance of between 40%-60%). The general findings were these:
It appears then that circuit training is an excellent method of improving strength in endurance athletes as it not only promotes an adequate amount of strength, but also has enough aerobic content to maintain V02max.
To conclude, the question of what is circuit training is answered in the following way. It is a method of training which aims to promote an improvement in aerobic fitness and muscular strength. It comprises carefully selected exercises grouped together and executed consecutively with little or no rest between each. After much research the general consensus is that circuit training does promote aerobic fitness and muscular strength.