Benefits of Circuit Training: Why You Should Do Them

Torch Fat With Circuit Training 

Incinerate fat with short and intense, but not easy workouts via circuit training. Circuit training is a training method that has been around for hundreds of years. Although its whereabouts came from two British scientists, R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson, it’s been around since the 1800s. Decades ago men didn’t have access to dumbbells or barbells, so they would move from exercise to exercise doing bodyweight movements — little did they know they were on to something. 

A lot of people would like to know how to burn more calories during their workout. Instead of working out smarter though — meaning less time in the gym — they turn to long steady-state cardio sessions. Instead, try circuit training to put your metabolism into high gear. Below, find out how. 

What is Circuit Training? 

circuit training

Circuit training is cycling through different exercises targeting different muscle groups with limited rest. Although you can include some cardio, it’s mainly resistance training. It’s made up of 5-10 different exercises, and you do one exercise at a time until you complete the set of exercises prescribed — this counts as one round. For example, you might go from lunges to inverted rows to dumbbell flyes to ab roller

It’s made up of multiple rounds and you’ll do one exercise at a time and go through all of them before a round is completed. This is different from supersets, where you’ll work out just two opposing muscle groups at a time for a couple of sets — alternating between each exercise each set. 

You can vary the reps, time, rounds, and type of exercise you do with circuit training, but the rest should be minimal. For example, you may go through all the exercises each round as fast as you can and allow yourself a 30-second rest between each round. 

Which Muscle Groups Should You Work? 

Generally, you’ll be doing a full-body workout with circuit training, although you can limit it to just a couple of muscle groups, depending on the type of split routine you’re on. For example, if you’re on a split routine with a chest and arms day split, then you can create a circuit that works just your chest, triceps, and biceps. You can rotate from cable crossover to skull crushers to preacher curls. This can be a great way to fatigue your muscles at the end of a workout! 

Moreover, you can decide to add a quick full-body workout to the end of your workout or decide to dedicate an entire day to just circuit training. The power is in your hands. Circuit training gives you a lot of flexibility. 

Calories Burned

You may be wondering how many calories you can burn from circuit training. Well, the good news is that circuit training can allow you to burn more calories per workout, and if combined with interval training, you’ll burn more calories after your workouts (more on that later). 

Of course, the exact number of calories you burn depends on numerous factors, including the length of the workout, exercises, and anthropometrics (weight, BMI) of each individual. However, according to Harvard Medical School, a 128-pound individual can burn about 240 calories, a 155-pound person will burn around 298 calories, and a 185-pound person will burn around 355 calories during a 30-minute workout bout. When compared to weightlifting — a 128-pound person will burn about 90 calories, a 155-pound person can burn about 112 calories, and a 185-pound person can burn around 133 calories. So circuit training packs quite the workout if you’re looking to burn more calories! 

And that’s not counting the calories you’ll continue to torch throughout the day. 

Interval training

While circuit training focuses on working out different muscle groups with a limited amount of rest, interval training focuses on the amount of time you spend on an exercise(s) and the intensity. You’ll alternate periods of moderate-to-high-intensity work with periods of either active or passive rest, aka HIIT (high-intensity interval training). And unlike circuit training, interval training is mainly cardio, although you can combine it with resistance training. 

You can do interval training with either one exercise — e.g. burpees — or multiple exercises — e.g. burpees, squat jumps, kettlebell swings. 

Interval training is a great combo with circuit training to put your body in a fat-burning state (1).  

Circuit Training Workout Example

  • 4 Rounds
    • Weighted Chin-ups x 8 reps
    • Dumbbell bench press x 10 reps
    • Dumbbell lunge x 12 reps
    • Battle rope x 45 sec.
    • Resistance band curls x 15 reps
    • Resistance band twist x 10 reps ea. side

Exercise Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) 

EPOC circuit training

Exercise post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), aka the afterburn effect, is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body to homeostasis, which is your body’s normal resting metabolic rate. And it’s the culprit that allows your body to continuously burn calories after your workout. That’s because your body relies on ATP to fuel muscular activity, which is produced via oxygen either through anaerobic or aerobic pathways. If you’re in a steady-state of oxygen consumption — like steady-state cardio — your aerobic pathways provide most of the ATP needed for the workout. However, since circuit training requires ATP from the anaerobic pathways, the EPOC effect is increased, and the higher the intensity of the workout, the more ATP is required from anaerobic pathways. 

Simply put, circuit training yields a greater number of calories burned post-workout than other physical activities (2). 

Benefits of Circuit Training

Aside from burning more calories during and after your workout, circuit training also has other benefits worth mentioning. For one, since your workout will be short and intense, that means you’ll save time in the gym (3). You can get a great circuit workout in just 15-30 minutes. 

In fact, a 2013 study conducted by the Journal of Physiology found that men who exercise at a moderate intensity doing 40-60 minutes of cycling 5 times a week had similar improvements in their body composition than men who did sprint intervals for less than 12 minutes 3 times a week (4).

Combine circuit training with high-intensity interval training and you’ll improve your physique in less time. 

Also, circuit training provides you a good mix of physical fitness, including muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and improving your body composition (5). 

Another benefit of circuit training is that a lot of people follow the same workout routine day in and day out, which can become dull quickly. Well, with circuit training you can mix up your monotonous regimen and have some fun! 


  • Saves time
  • Increases strength
  • Increases endurance
  • Burn more calories
  • Mixes up your workout


Circuit training is a workout style with minimum rest that mixes up multiple exercises that work different body parts. It can be a quick workout and increase your strength and endurance simultaneously. Plus, it catapults your body into a fat-torching state long after your workout. 

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1 – Wingfield, H. L., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Melvin, M. N., Roelofs, E. J., Trexler, E. T., Hackney, A. C., Weaver, M. A., & Ryan, E. D. (2015). The acute effect of exercise modality and nutrition manipulations on post-exercise resting energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in women: a randomized trial. Sports medicine – open, 1(1), 11.

2 – Jung, W. S., Hwang, H., Kim, J., Park, H. Y., & Lim, K. (2019). Effect of interval exercise versus continuous exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption during energy-homogenized exercise on a cycle ergometer. Journal of exercise nutrition & biochemistry, 23(2), 45–50.

3 – Gillen, J. B., & Gibala, M. J. (2014). Is high-intensity interval training a time-efficient exercise strategy to improve health and fitness?. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 39(3), 409–412.

4 – Cocks, M., Shaw, C. S., Shepherd, S. O., Fisher, J. P., Ranasinghe, A. M., Barker, T. A., Tipton, K. D., & Wagenmakers, A. J. (2013). Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males. The Journal of physiology, 591(3), 641–656.

5 – Romero-Arenas, S., Martínez-Pascual, M., & Alcaraz, P. E. (2013). Impact of resistance circuit training on neuromuscular, cardiorespiratory and body composition adaptations in the elderly. Aging and disease, 4(5), 256–263.

As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.