At Fitter Longer, I run a number of small group circuit training classes for different audiences, which incorporate both general fitness activity and exercises which are more sport-specific. I believe circuits provide a really flexible way for people to work at their own pace to improve their individual fitness level.
Circuit training basically consists of performing any series of exercises with minimal rest between each one and moving around a number of workstations. Any form of resistance, eg: dumbbells; kettlebells; weighted bags; resistance bands, which target your upper and lower body and core and build muscular strength. Typically, a circuit will also include options to elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular fitness, such as plyometric box jumps or boxing padwork. I always try to incorporate exercises with different degrees of difficulty so that participants can gauge their progress, moving to the next ‘level’ as their overall strength and conditioning improves.
The great thing about circuits is that you can shape them specifically to an audience, for example I run class for cyclists which focuses on exercises to strengthen core and glutes. As a form of metabolic resistance training, not only do they provide the ‘feel-good’ endorphin boost associated with cardio workouts like spinning or running, they are also scientifically proven to be amongst the most efficient and effective methods of improving overall fitness – it’s possible to burn as much as 10 calories per minute, so a relatively short session can have a big impact.
Two top tips to reduce the risk of injury
1. Make sure that you don’t compromise form for speed
2. Don’t be fooled that the heaviest weights are the best. Performing higher reps with a smaller weight mean you’ll retain better form – you can always progress to increased weight or resistance as your strength and conditioning improve