Circuit training protocols

While it is certainly true that there are dozens of circuit training formats, there are a few general protocols that may ensure the safest and most effective training outcomes. Circuit training simply defined is training stations set up in a “circle” to enable the participant to follow the “circle” pattern efficiently (i.e. station one is performed, then station two, etc.). And, circuit training has been with us for decades, so nothing new regarding the concept, just the differentiation and utilization of circuit formats has grown and changed. *And, while it is usually more efficient in a circle pattern, there are exceptions to this rule depending upon the purpose of the training session.

This week, check out the following circuit training protocols and integrate these into your circuit training formats to provide you with comprehensive, safe, efficient, effective and fun program results. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

• Protocol #1 Circuit program design is crucial! Consult your certified, qualified and experienced personal trainer/coach to design a circuit program for you taking into consideration your specific goals/objectives and limitations.

• Protocol #2 Set up your circuit before you begin the workout. Many times, clients will come in, begin their warm-up and then attempt to set up their circuit afterward. Your goal is to begin your workout as soon as the warm-up is completed. So, organization is key and the major reason that circuit training works is that it is organized, predictable and should be simple to follow once learned. Consequently, set up the circuit first and then you will be ready to hit the ground running post warm-up!

• Protocol #3 Understand the purpose of each station. Is the station a muscular strength training station, or is it a cardio-power station? Is it a core stability station or compound exercise station? If it is a muscular strength training station, then you will want to lift slowly, practicing the “time under tension” rule of muscular strength training and achieve momentary muscle failure in the final two repetitions. If it is a cardio or power station, you may be utilizing explosive drills/skills and attempting to perform HIIT causing you to become completely winded.

• Protocol #4 Follow the circuit program format design! We, as professional trainers, spend hours designing programs for our clientele and the sequence of the circuit is important. In fact, the circuit is designed in a specific sequence for a specific purpose (i.e. it may not be rocket science, but it is science!). So, follow it whenever possible and if you must divert, then move to the next station rather than skipping to the end or beginning.

• Protocol #5 Do not dally between sets and stations. Your circuit training program should feature specifically designated intervals (i.e. 30 seconds exertion/15 seconds recovery/30 seconds exertion and then 15 seconds to move to the next station). Unless you are lifting extremely heavy (i.e. 2-5 reps to complete failure), you really do not require more than 15-30 seconds between stations, in most cases, for recovery and moving on to the next station. Keep the energy level elevated, keep the circuit efficient and keep moving!

**One quick tip – circuit training is generally performed in intervals. However, interval training may or may not be designed as a circuit.

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