3 Effective Circuit Training Routines You Need To Try

Most people think that a camera-ready body is only attainable for people with movie-star budgets, movie-star teams, and a movie-star schedule. It makes sense, in a way. It is far too easy to amble into the gym and waste time figuring out where to start. Or waiting for a machine, or phoning it in on the treadmill.

That is where circuit training comes to the rescue. It provides discipline, allowing you to make use of every single minute of your workout. Circuit training also keeps your body guessing (and reeling) from the quick and sudden changes that happen as you move from one exercise to the next. This is great for your body, which never gets the chance to fall into a comfortable rhythm. Circuit training denies the body time to figure out how to burn as little energy as it can get away with burning. This is ultimately what you want from a workout: Maximum burn in the shortest possible amount of time.

Amir Khan doing a push up in the gym

Push-ups are a perfect exercise to build strength for martial arts.

To get you started and on your way, here are some circuit training routines that are geared towards different fitness levels and different fitness goals.


What Can Targeted Circuit Training Routines Do For You?

Amir Khan doing a pull-up at the gym.

Bodyweight exercises like pull-ups are great for building strength needed for martial arts like Muay Thai, BJJ, and MMA.

Every circuit training routine has an end goal. Some routines are designed to sculpt muscles in specific parts of the body. Other routines are fat busters whose end goal is weight loss. There are also circuit training routines that are designed to build strength for events like triathlons, mountain climbing, and other feats of endurance.

This means that the exercises that go into a circuit training routine will vary, depending on what you want out of your workouts. The sequence and timing of each exercise will also vary based on how much time you have, your fitness level, and the muscles you wish to target.


Circuit Training Routines For Different Fitness Goals

Let us take a closer look at individual routines, their components, and how they can help you along your fitness journey.


1) A Weight Loss Circuit Training Routine For Beginners

kettlebell squat

A student squats with a kettlebell at Evolve MMA in Singapore.

A good weight loss routine allows you to burn calories and, with time, fat. It works by gradually creating new muscle tissue, which increases the number of calories that the body burns. An effective circuit training routine will also incorporate high-intensity interval training, which lends itself to anaerobic exercise.

Anaerobic exercise occurs when the muscles continue to work even when they receive less oxygen than they need. The muscles accumulate lactic acid, which they metabolize long after they complete their workout. As they break down the lactic acid, the muscles burn calories in what is known as an afterburn.

Here is a good circuit routine that burns calories and vaporizes fat in a short amount of time. It is a good start for a person who is taking the first steps in their fitness journey:

  • Perform 20 squats, which will work your leg muscles as they push your body weight upwards from a squatting position
  • Follow up with 10 push-ups, which will target your upper body and core
  • Take a little break with a set of 20 walking lunges; 10 for each leg
  • Do ten basic dumbbell rows for each arm and follow this up with a 20-second plank
  • Finish the set with 30 jumping jacks, done at a fast pace

This circuit targets all the muscle groups, causing them to build, which in turn conditions the body to burn more calories and fat. You should repeat the entire circuit four times, with a minute-long break in between.

Once your body gets used to this introductory workout, you can step it up a notch by switching to a more challenging routine.


2) A Circuit Training Routine That Builds Muscle

a person performing a one handed dumbbell row

Lifting heavy weights stimulates muscle growth.

This intense routine builds muscle and burns fat by pushing your muscles to the limit. The circuit consists of compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups at the same time. After you warm up:

  • Perform 6 hang clean repetitions in perfect form, using weights that you can comfortably lift. This will put the muscles in your core, back, chest and shoulders to work
  • Execute ten jump squats to work the thigh and calf muscles, as well as the lower torso
  • Keep going by doing a set of ten burpees
  • Follow this up with ten push-ups
  • Bench press some weights, you can use dumbbells instead of barbells if you like
  • Warm-down with a bent-over row, which you need to do with barbells

Rest for a minute (or two, if you must) before you start a new circuit. Your end goal should be to complete six circuits while maintaining perfect form with each rep of each exercise. You will need some equipment to perform this circuit, so you need to be at a gym or get yourself a few pieces of equipment.


3) A Circuit Training Routine That Builds Endurance

People who participate in endurance sports like marathons, triathlons, mountain climbing, cycling, and other similar undertakings need reserves of physical and mental strength.

Most endurance sport enthusiasts spend much of their time doing the thing that they love. Runners run and cyclists cycle. Climbers practice climbing and build up endurance in their legs and upper bodies. Because this type of person has a passion for their chosen sport, they can easily pour all their efforts into that thing. They are likely to put cross-training on the back burner, which is not good.

Luckily, circuit training can help with that. By providing an intense full-body workout, the right circuit training routine can help the person build up the stamina they need to push themselves. Circuit training also targets important but easily neglected muscles. Here is a sequence of exercises that creates a circuit that builds endurance:

  • Start with a squat with an overhead press. Do as many reps as you can in a minute and rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise
  • Perform a lunge with one leg and a bicep curl with the opposite arm. Do as many reps as you can in a minute and move on to the next exercise without a break
  • Target your core with alternating plank rows. Cram as many reps as you can into a minute
  • Do the mountain climber, which targets the core, back, and legs. Do as many reps as you can fit into a minute, then rest for 30 seconds

You should be able to fit six reps of each exercise into a minute. Repeat this circuit again. You can do the whole circuit three or four times. Use the last circuit to cram as many reps as you can into a minute, all the while maintaining perfect form.


Circuit Training Can Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals In Record Time

circuit training plank

A plank being demonstrated in a WarriorFit class at Evolve MMA (Orchard Central) in Singapore.

One of the reasons circuit training is so effective is because it gets a lot done in a short amount of time. This makes it perfect for people with specific goals and those with time constraints. It also helps that circuit training is highly customizable. This means that with a little help, you can craft a circuit training routine that fits into your lifestyle while helping you to meet whatever target you set for yourself.

So how about you give it a try?

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