Circuit Training Explained

If you’re finding it tough to squeeze a workout into your painfully short lunch break, your mind-numbing gym routine is causing your sanity to slowly slip away, or you can't afford to hire a personal trainer, it’s time to have a crack at a circuit training class.

If you're signed up to one of the big gym chains, basic circuit classes are normally included in the cost of your membership fee. Here's how they work: a personal trainer sets up a number of stations containing different kit, then takes a bunch of gym-goers through a consecutive series of timed exercises using this equipment, with short amounts of rest in between each exercise.

The quick pace and constant switching between exercises and equipment shocks your body and tackles all your major muscle groups, meaning you get should get an effective full-body workout over the space of the 45 minutes (the length of a typical class). OK, so you won’t be lifting massive weights in most circuit classes, but they cram in so many sets that they hit your muscles hard for huge strength gains. You’ll also work your aerobic system without having to even look at a cursed treadmill.

Of course, having an engaged and engaging personal trainer is key to a good class. You want one who barks out the moves he/she wants you to do then chases you around the room, cajoling, encouraging and yelling at you to keep training at a high tempo and maintain perfect form. Yes, you might be a bit scared of them by the end of your session, but you’ll get the workout you want.

Competition, particularly if you’re doing a class with a mate of a similar level of fitness to you, will also help you get the most out of a circuit training session. Feeling like the fastest man in a class full of strangers certainly adds to the endorphin rush you’ll get at the end of a session, but if you’ve beaten a buddy, you’ll open the door to bragging rights heaven.

The only downside is that the music personal trainers play during circuit training classes is normally terrible hi-energy Euro-House. We’re still on the hunt for a class that uses Kings Of Leon as a soundtrack. If you come across one, let us know…

Go for optimum power.