Changing Things Up With Circuit Training

Hi everyone!

I’m Athena, and I’m a fitness instructor/enthusiast blogging over at Fitness & Feta.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are excited for that “clean slate feeling” that New Year’s brings.  I’m sure many of you are making resolutions for 2012, or what I like to call SMART goals, and I’m sure that many of your goals are health and fitness oriented.  Whether that be eating more nutritiously, getting to the gym more often, or trying a new class, I think simply declaring that you are ready to make positive changes is a fabulous first step to improvement.

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I was really excited when Whitney asked me to write a guest post with a workout of my choice for the New Year.  I currently teach two Circuit Training classes a week at the Oak Square YMCA, and I also take several other types of classes including cycling, kickboxing, yoga, and more.  It has been really hard to narrow down which workout routine to write about for LiveRunLoveYoga, but I’ve decided to stick with my tried and true:  Circuit Training classes!
If you are looking to spice up your workouts and add some variety to your existing routine in the New Year, circuit training is a great choice.  It never lets me down!
Circuit training is a form of conditioning that combines both resistance training and high intensity aerobic exercise.  Typically, each “circuit” in a session is made up of prescribed exercises that target the total body.  I love Circuit Training because it lets me add variety to my classes.  This ensures that members don’t get bored and keep coming back for more!  When I teach, I like to design each circuit to include moves for cardio, lower body, and upper body.  Sometimes I leave abdominal work for the end of class and other times I like to include core work as part of each circuits.  Depends on my mood!

I also like to switch up what kinds of circuits I use in my classes.  Here are some example class formats I’ve used in the past:

  • Complete all prescribed exercises in the circuit.  Then circle back to the first exercise and begin a second circuit with the same move.  Repeat through the moves as time allows.
  • Instead of recycling through the same movement for each circuit, use different exercises but aim to target the same general areas of the body during each.
  • Incorporate interval training into the circuits.  For example, do a Tabata Interval as the cardio move in each circuit of that day’s session.
  • Set up stations in a sequence that allows members to work opposing muscle groups, do 60 seconds at each station (circuit 1) and move right away to the next (circuit 2).
See?  Your possibilities are endless!

Here is an example workout from one of my classes last week.  Please make sure to honor your bodies and injuries and refer to your doctor before taking on any lifestyle changes.Countdown Circuit ClassTime:  40-45 Minutes — this one is great if you are short on time in the gym!What You Need:  Two sets of dumbbells (one heavier set and one lighter set)How to Do It:  For each circuit, do 10 reps of the lower body move, 10 reps of the upper body move, and 10 reps of the cardio exercise.  Then repeat but do 9 reps of lower body, 9 reps of upper body, and 9 reps of cardio.  Repeat again with 8, then 7, and so on until you are down to just one of each.  Try not to rest until you have completed the entire countdown, then take a quick break, hydrate, and move on to the next circuit.
5 minutes of dynamic movement
  • Marching in place
  • Jogging in place
  • Knee raises
  • Jumping jacks




  • Lower Body:  Weighted Hip Raises
  • Upper Body:  Pushups  (can be modified on knees)
  • Cardio:  Jump Rope (This can be done without the rope – just mock the movement.  For lower impact just march in place).


5 minutes of static stretching, holding each stretch for 15-60 seconds

Some of the benefits to choosing a circuit training workout over a conventional cardio or strength program include, but are not limited to:
  • Improved strength or muscular endurance (as opposed to training for muscle strength)
  • Provides a total body workout in less time
  • Allows for variety / prevents boredom
  • Does not necessarily require expensive gym equipment
  • Maximizes caloric burn, both during and post workout for an increase in your post workout metabolism
So go ahead!  Change things up with Circuit Training this year.  I promise you, you’ll see results!
You can read more about me, my workouts & playlists, what I eat, and other random tidbits by subscribing to Fitness & Feta, my personal guide to healthy living and a happy life.  Please also feel free to follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page.Have a wonderful day, and good luck with your health and fitness goals for 2012!

5 thoughts on “Changing Things Up With Circuit Training

  1. Caitlin C. says:

    I adore circuit training! And by that I mean I lovingly hate it while I’m out of breath and sweating my butt off doing it 😉 I did a class on it yesterday in fact and it was so tough! What’s cool is that my class included literally every single move in your sample workout (and more!)


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