Circuit training is great for gals on the go … that’s why those 30-minute workout clubs have become so popular! But contrary to what those clubs might say, it is not necessary to go to a gym and use their strength training machines in order to achieve the benefits of a good circuit training workout.

Circuit training is simply doing a series of strength training exercises, moving quickly from one exercise to the next with little or no rest in between exercises. By moving quickly and keeping your heart rate up during weight training, your body is building muscle and experiencing a cardio workout at the same time. And cardio exercise burns fat and fuels your metabolism for overall weight loss. That’s a pretty good return time invested for a short 30-minute workout.

While you can use gym machines for your circuit training exercises, unless you are in a group setting and there is an orchestrated process for moving between machines, you will find it difficult to have use of each machine at the time you want it. And the problem with the group circuit training classes is the “one size fits all” workout. You are forced to do the same exercises as everybody else, which is not the personalized workout that most of us want.

However, if you are new to weight training and can’t afford a personal trainer, a group circuit training class is a great way to learn about strength training in a supervised environment. Later, when you have a better idea of what you want out of a weight training session, you can design your own circuit training workout and perform it at the gym or at home.

A Few Facts About Circuit Training

1. Circuit training can be done with gym machines, with free weights, or with no weights at all if you are using your own body weight to provide resistance during your strength training workout. As long as you are applying resistance, you can build muscle and increase strength.

2. Men’s circuit training is not the same, (or should not be the same) as a circuit training workout for women. This is because men and women usually have different fitness goals. Men will usually focus on bulking up their biceps, deltoids, chest and back, with a secondary effort on their lower body. They are more interested in building muscle than losing fat. On the other hand, women usually prefer an overall toned appearance, with little bulk, a small waist, and are working out for overall fat loss. The women’s workout requires a greater emphasis on cardio training to achieve any significant amount of fat loss.

3. A circuit training program designed for women will focus more on the large muscle groups in the lower body than muscles in the upper body. This helps tone the muscles women focus on most, such as glutes; also, by working the larger muscle groups in the hips and legs, women are burning more calories than working small muscles in the upper body. The extra effort used to work the larger muscles actually increases your resting metabolism and allows you to continue burning calories after your workout.

4. Vary your circuit training routine. No matter what exercises you are doing, your body will eventually adapt to the move. You really do need to vary your exercises in order to create muscle confusion and keep building new muscle fibers.

5. Don’t count on circuit training for all of your cardio needs. Sure, a fast-paced weight training session is a great way to add extra cardio to your weekly workout schedule, but unless you are already at your goal weight, you will probably be disappointed with the rate of fat loss if you depend entirely on circuit training for weight loss. If you are strength training 2-3 days per week, add another 2 cardio workouts to your fitness schedule. It’s best if your pure cardio workouts are based on a variable intensity workout that lasts 30-45 minutes.