Circuit training routines are those that move us from one exercise to the next with little rest between sets. The routines are not complicated.

Generally, circuit training encompasses both resistance and aerobic exercises. But not always.

The routines may be constructed to address the entire body or only the upper body, only the legs or only targeted weaknesses.

Nautilus workouts took us from station to station as we eventually worked our entire bodies. One problem with this was the wait time between stations as some people were very slow or even performed more than one set at a station. It follows that the best circuit training benefits come from faster movement from one exercise to the next, with limited rest time.

As a result of this, the cardio part of the routines becomes enhanced, as our heart rate is increased and more oxygen is sent to our muscles.

In my experience, the best circuit training routines are those that take us to different body parts with each step. In this way, we can move more quickly through the routine. This concept is totally different from completely flushing the muscles of one body part before moving on. The difference lies in the aerobic benefits possible within circuit training. Do we want specialized muscle building or overall less specialized muscle building with cardio?

Since I am using aerobic and cardio interchangeably, let me say this – aerobic refers to the use of oxygen while exercising, and cardio refers to your heart pumping. The exercises for both are the same or very similar.

The image below shows a very rough design of a circuit training routine.
In my previous post on British actress Helen Mirren, there was a description of the Royal Canadian Air Force workout, which is a form of circuit training.


Lifehack tells us this about circuit training routines:

  • The exercise type varies
  • 5-10 exercises are performed back-to-back
  • 1- 4 circuits are performed
  • Each exercise calls for a certain time or number of repetitions
  • Each station alternates upper body with lower body
  • Proper technique is stressed
  • Effort ranges from 5-8 (on a scale of 1-10)
  • Total time is 20-60 minutes

Here is a barbell circuit: 5-10 reps, one minute rest between sets, repeat the circuit as you progress

  1. Deadlift
  2. Bench press
  3. Squats
  4. Military press
  5. Hanging leg raises

Here is a circuit with bodyweight resistance only, based on time:

  1. Free squats – 60 seconds
  2. Plank – 30 seconds
  3. Jumping jacks – 30 seconds
  4. Push-ups – 30 seconds
  5. Running in place with high knees – 60 seconds

Silver Sneakers gives us an excellent 30-minute home circuit training routine, complete with lots of inspiration in this video.

Circuit training videos from Amazon include the following, among many (As an Amazon affiliate I may earn from qualifying purchases and may also pick out relevant products to present) –

Circuit burnout – videos, training guides, trackers, nutrition plans, everything you need

Total cardio burn – under $10

Circuit strength training for women

Bodyweight and dumbbell workout cards


First of all, there is nothing mysterious about circuit training. We can develop our own routines based on the following:

  • The equipment we have
  • The priorities we have – do we have lagging body parts, do we want to lose weight, gain weight?
  • Do we want to include both resistance and cardio, as most do
  • Do we understand that it is best that each exercise be followed by one that works a different body part?

I have often done circuits with Nautilus or similar machines, one set and then move on. At this point, I do circuits at home at times and more concentrated (but slower) workouts at other times.

I like circuits for this primary reason – they give me a cardio benefit not possible by doing several sets to “pump up” a specific muscle.

I have used barbells before in my garage, but now I build my circuits with dumbbells, resistance bands and Bullworker products. It is important that I change my circuits from time to time. This is easy to do since there are hundreds of applications within these three forms of resistance, plus hundreds more from nothing more than our bodyweight.

Resistance bands (from Amazon)

Small dumbbells, also from Amazon

Adjustable dumbbells, also from Amazon

Bullworker Steel Bow and Bow Classic (Bullworker website)

The Bullworker Steel Bow is shown below and these products come directly from Bullworker Fitness


Let me again say that circuit training is a very simple concept. This is about it:

  • We choose the exercises that we want or need
  • Then we separate upper body from lower body as one exercise follows another
  • We use minimal rest time, to get the best cardio effect
  • The minimal rest time is possible since we do not stay with one body part long enough to tire it out
  • We may start with one circuit and then increase circuits as we progress
  • We may also change the number of stations at any time

In addition to that, we may intermix types of resistance with different equipment, including our own bodyweight. This is good to do, to prevent burnout or boredom, as with any exercise program.

Here is the best thing about circuit training routines, in my opinion – we can get a muscle building workout along with a cardio workout simultaneously.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Be well and stay healthy!


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