Circuit Training 101 – How To Build A Circuit Workout At Home – Women's Health


It’s easy to skip out on the gym when you’d only have 15 minutes to sweat before running out the door. But that’s the beauty of circuit training: You can get through a total-body, calorie-burning workout at turbo speed in your own living room and still make it to work on time.

You can use this intel to help you create an at-home circuit-training workout customized to your go-to moves and how much time you have. Or, try one of the pre-programmed at-home circuit training workouts designed by a certified training below. (There are 15-, 25-, and 45-minute options.)

Either way, if done consistently, circuit training can help you burn fat, build muscle and beat the boredom of redundant fitness routines. Those are just a few reasons to give it a try. Keep reading for everything you need to know to create an at-home circuit training workout.

What is circuit training?

Sometimes, it can feel like circuit training and interval training are synonyms because people interchange them frequently. On the contrary, “circuit training is a workout based around stations that you complete continuously, with little or no rest between sets,” explains Ash Wilking, Nike trainer and Rumble instructor.

Here are the major circuits you should cycle through in order:

  1. Lower Body Station: Both Legs
  2. Upper Body Station: Arms
  3. Lower Body Station: Single Leg
  4. Core Station
  5. Cardio Station
    1. According to Wilking, you don’t need that break in between stations in most cases because each exercise within the circuit targets a different muscle group or purpose, whether it’s strength training, muscle endurance, or cardio. That’s different from interval training, where you’re pushing through high-intensity moves and alternating it with low-intensity exercises and rest periods.

      What are the benefits of circuit training?

      The first benefit of circuit training is what Wilking calls the “anti-scrolling” effect it has on people—you won’t have a moment to get bored and hop on your phone except to hit the start and stop timer, so you’re getting a complete workout.

      Another perk is that you can do circuit training anywhere: in a gym or at home, and it can be done with dumbbells or simply with bodyweight. Because there are countless ways to create a circuit training workout, it’s ideal for all fitness levels too.

      Oh, and did I mention it’s efficient? Circuit training allows you to work on both cardio and strength training simultaneously, which is the perfect combo to torch body fat and build muscle at the same freaking time.

      In other words, circuit training burns calories quickly (around 200–300 in every 30 minute workout for the person of average weight, according to Harvard Medical School) which can lead to weight loss.

      Finally, if you’re focused on improving your athletic performance and speed, circuit training may help increase your VO2 max, or the amount of oxygen your body can consume at a given time, according to research published in ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal.

          How does circuit training work?

          Circuits typically have 5–10 stations corresponding to each muscle group, but you can structure your circuits based on timed stations, specific rep counts of those stations, or a mixture of both, Wilking says. Of course the more time you have, the more circuits you can move through, but even if you only have 15 minutes, it’s still a solid training session.

          Keep in mind that it’s the quick alternating between muscle-specific movements, for example those that target the upper body, or the legs, that allow you to move swiftly between stations without taking a rest in the middle, Wilking says. Each muscle group has time to recover while another one is working. Also, you’re likely timing the circuits, so there will be a specific stopping point for each station and therefore for each muscle group.

          If you’re adding a set of weights, you probably won’t get as many reps in, and that’s fine. “You can likely do 25 body weight squats, but maybe only 10 or 15 weighted squats,” Wilking says. Weights will add an extra challenge when it comes to sculpting, but running through the exercises with light weights or bodyweight only will help you build muscle endurance and turn it into even more of cardio workout.

          Start circuit training at home using one of these workouts created by Wilking below.

          15 Minute Circuit Training Session

          Instructions: Complete each move for 1 minute each three times through with no rest.

          Lower Body: Body weight squat or weighted squat

          Upper Body: Triceps dips

          Single Leg: Reverse lunge

          Core: Sit ups to single leg toe touch

          Cardio: 10 high knees and 3 burpees


          25 Minute Circuit Training Session

          Instructions: Complete each move from Set A for 1 minute each, then rest for 1 minute and do the same with Set B. Repeat the two circuits once more through from the top, resting for 1 minute between sets.

          Set A (5 minutes)

          Lower Body: Sumo squat

          Upper Body: Plank walks or slow pushups

          Single Leg: Alternating lateral lunges

          Abs: Scissor kicks

          Cardio: Jump rope or bench hops

          Set B (5 minutes)

          Lower Body: Glute bridges

          Upper Body: Bicep curl to overhead press

          Single Leg: Alternating curtsy lunge

          Abs: Deadbug

          Cardio: Side shuffles or Suicide sprints


          45 Minute Circuit Training Session

          Instructions: Complete each move in order for 1 minute each four times through, resting for a minute before starting each circuit over from the top.

          Lower Body: Sumo squat

          Upper Body: Plank walks or push ups

          Single Leg: Alternating lateral lunges

          Abs: Scissor kicks

          Cardio: Jump rope or bench hops

          Lower Body: Glute bridges

          Upper Body: Biceps curls to overhead press

          Single Leg: Alternating curtsy lunges

          Abs: Deadbug

          Cardio: Side shuffles or suicide sprints



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