How to design a circuit training session
Brian Mackenzie explains how to design a circuit training session
Circuit training is an excellent way to simultaneously improve mobility, strength and stamina. The circuit training format utilizes a group of 6 to 10 strength exercises that are completed one exercise after another. Each exercise is performed for a specified number of repetitions or for a prescribed time period before moving on to the next exercise. The exercises within each circuit are separated by brief, timed rest intervals, and each circuit is separated by a longer rest period. The total number of circuits performed during a training session may vary from two to six depending on your training level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced), your period of training (preparation or competition) and your training objective.
Identify the possible exercises that can be performed with the available equipment. Identify on paper 3 to 4 circuits of 6 to 10 exercise. In each circuit try to ensure that no two consecutive exercises exercise the same muscle group e.g. do not have press ups followed by pull-ups.
A circuit should be set up so that you work each body part as follows: Total-body, Upper-body, Lower-body, Core & Trunk etc.
The following are examples of exercises that can be used in a circuit training session:
How much and how long
The duration can be based on time (e.g. 30 seconds) or set to half the number of repetitions of the exercise the athlete can complete in 60 seconds of 100% effort. If training is based on the number of repetitions, then regular testing (e.g. every 4 weeks) will need to be carried out to determine the maximum number of repetitions that can be completed in 60 seconds for each exercise.
It is important to warm-up with easy jogging and dynamic stretching exercises and an easy jog with static stretching as a cool down after the session. For each circuit, I use a set of linoeum (lino) cards (6 inches by 6 inches) with an exercise written on each which I lay by the equipment to indicate to the athletes the required exercise at each stage of the circuit.
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About the Author
Brian Mackenzie is a British Athletics level 4 performance coach and a coach tutor/assessor. He has been coaching sprint, middle distance and combined event athletes for the past 30+ years and has 45+ years' experience as an endurance athlete.
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