Benefits of Circuit Training

Circuit training is simply any exercise routine that is used to develop an overall balance between strength and aerobic fitness. For example, a runner will obviously include running in a personal fitness regimen, but should also include strength training, flexibility work and other forms of cardiovascular movement as well. When these various forms of exercise are consolidated into a single workout session, or circuit, with little rest between exercises, it is called circuit training. Besides adding variety to your workout, there are many other benefits of circuit training.

In virtually every case, it is in your best interest to use two or more modes of training to develop fitness. This is not because circuit training somehow induces a better conditioning response, but because research indicates that using several modes of training can provide you with a number of very positive benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Circuit Training?

Injury prevention. By combining different exercise modes, you prevent the same bones, muscle groups and joints from being stressed over and over. As a result, circuit training tends to reduce the likelihood of injury as a result of exercising too much.

Exercise plan adherence. Circuit training has also been shown in a number of studies to increase an individual's long-term adherence to exercise programs. This is because a person doesn't tend to get bored with his or her program as quickly and, more importantly, because circuit training relieves some of the monotony of exercise and provides an efficient way to reap the benefits in half the time.

Rehabilitation. When an injury does occur, circuit training comes to the rescue in two ways. First, it helps you maintain fitness despite being forced to forgo your normal exercise plan. Second, it corrects the cause of the injury. For example, if you injure your shoulder, you probably can't go swimming, but you could continue your cardiovascular training by using a hands-free elliptical machine.

Efficiency. Circuit training has been show to recruit the major muscle groups up to twice more than cycling and five times more than walking alone. Major muscles are involved up to 60 percent, with the only exception being the abdominals because their main function is to maintain dynamic balance, stability and posture. Thus, circuit training, which can include cycling or walking, is perhaps the most efficient form of overall exercise. Just be sure to include additional abdominal work.

For rookies and pros alike. One of the most interesting studies on circuit training was published in the February 1998 issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. In this study, scientists used elite runners as subjects, whereas most previous studies had included only average runners. Half of the runners added a cycling-based circuit training component to their routines and their performance drastically increased. The study suggested that circuit training can result in improved performance in moderately trained or well-trained runners, though there was no scientific evidence regarding cross-training elite runners.

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