Every day you come online there is a new workout routine being touted as the next best thing to not only help you lose weight but keep you lean and help you build strength as well. From yoga to cardio, strength training, pilates, spin classes, and HIIT, there really isn’t a shortage of workout routines to do.
If you are bored with the same old routines and want to try something new and challenging, we suggest trying out circuit training workouts. Circuit training for strength has steadily gained popularity all over the fitness community not only for its incredible benefits but because you can be done with your entire routine in just 30 minutes.
If this sounds like something that you might be interested in trying, stick around to learn how to start circuit training for strength and power, the benefits of adding this program into your routine, and much more.
What Are Strength Circuits?
Strength circuits are a series of workouts done in a rotating manner, all targeting different parts and muscle groups in the body. Also known as circuit training, this full-body workout not only combines both cardio and strength training but the circuits/exercises are done with little to no breaks/rest in between too.
Does Circuit Training Build Strength?
Unlike what many misinformed people believe, circuit training does in fact build strength. As previously mentioned, this type of training program combines both strength training and cardio. All strength training workouts help increase both muscle size and strength (3, 6, 4).
Read More: Top Circuit Training Benefits According To Science
How Does Circuit Training Help Strength?
Still not convinced that circuit training for strength will give you bigger and stronger muscles?
Here is how this training program will help you achieve your goal:
- The use of weights. Circuit training workouts can be done with or without weights, however, more often than not, a session will include some free weights. According to the Mayo Clinic, free weights add stress to your muscles, which forces them to adapt and get stronger. This is why, with time, you find people who often work out with weights, looking to lift heavier and heavier; the stronger the muscles get, the easier they find it to work with the already existing weight.
- Doing high reps. Circuit training workouts call for sets of 8 to 12 reps per workout. According to research, higher reps are great for muscle endurance (aka strength) while lower reps with heavier weights are great for increased muscle mass (bigger more pronounced muscles (3, 7).
- Constant stress on the muscles. As previously stated, circuit training sessions are done with little to no rest in between the exercises. This way of working outputs your muscles under constant stress, which according to Healthline, stimulates neuromuscular adaptations and muscle growth to build larger and stronger muscles.
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What Is The Best Strength Training Circuit For Runners?
As a runner, cross-training should be part and parcel of your training routine. Whether you run simply for fun, as a way to lose weight, or because you are training for a marathon, cross-training is a vital part of your routine.
Some benefits of cross-training for runners include:
- Balancing your muscle groups. We mostly use our lower body when running, which leaves the upper body untrained and underdeveloped.
- Improved cardiovascular fitness. Running is a great cardiovascular workout but it might not be enough by itself. Maintain or improve it by doing other cardio workouts like swimming or kickboxing.
- Reduced risk of injury. This relates to point above. When all your muscles and joints are well-balanced and strong, you are at a lower risk of injuring yourself when running and doing other workouts.
- Great for weight loss: Not all runners are looking to lose weight, but if you are, cross-training is a great way to burn more calories than you do when running. Remember that most cardio workouts only burn calories at the moment (albeit a high number), however other workouts like strength training burn calories even after you are done with the workout (5, 2).
- Having variety: Doing the same thing day in and day out will eventually lead to burnout. Doing other workouts other than running ensures that you don’t experience this.
Circuit training for strength for runners is one of the best ways to cross-train as its combination of cardio and strength training workouts will help with all the above-mentioned benefits.
Here are some exercises that could be used in a strength training circuit for a small group training class for runners– they can also work just as well for an individual:
- Deadlifts: This targets the muscles in your hips, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Strengthening the muscles in this area promotes stability and strength, which helps you with balance and power while running.
- Push-ups and pull-ups: Mainly, these upper body exercises not only strengthen your upper body muscles, promoting balance in both the upper and lower body, but they also improve your endurance, which helps with reducing fatigue.
- Planks: This popular core exercise should be in all runners’ cross-training programs. While it might not look like it, core strength is important to runners as not only does it keep you stable while running– hence, reducing wobbling –but also because, a strong core allows the pelvis, hips, and lower back to work together more smoothly, reducing how much energy you expend while doing this exercise.
- Burpees: This is a full-body workout that not only helps with weight loss and makes you stronger, but also improves your cardiovascular endurance.
- Box jumps: Not only are they a great cardio exercise, but they are also fantastic for improving your explosiveness. In running, explosive strength is important as it helps with overall speed and efficiency.
One small study done on the neuromechanical link between the head and arms showed that when we’re running, this link is much more active than when we’re simply walking. Researchers suggested that strengthening this link could be highly beneficial to runners (8).
As a runner, some other circuit training for strength and power workouts that you can do include bodyweight squats (and their variations), hamstring curls, walking lunges, tricep dips, and long jumps, among others.
Read More: Benefits Of Tabata Workout
Is Circuit Training Used For Just Strength Training?
No, it is not. Other than helping improve your muscle strength, circuit training is also great for improving cardiovascular health, increasing muscle mass, boosting your mood, doing full-body workouts in a short period of time, and promoting weight loss.
Is Circuit Training Good For Weight Loss?
Yes, it is. Strength circuit training for weight loss is good because:
The use of weights burns calories both during the exercise session and even hours later after you are done with your workout.
It keeps your heart rate up. Since this type of workout doesn’t really allow rest, your heart rate is constantly high, which helps burn a lot of calories
Several studies have also shown that this exercise will help in not only reducing body weight but also boosting fat loss and reducing your BMI (9, 1).
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The Bottom Line
Circuit training for strength is a perfect time-efficient way to build more muscle strength. This form of training combines both cardio and weight lifting, which not only helps with stronger muscles but has other advantages as well, such as promoting weight loss, increasing muscle mass, improving heart health, and much more.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
Effect of circuit training on body composition, physical fitness, and metabolic syndrome risk factors in obese female college students (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men (2015, journals.lww.com)
Evidence mounts on the benefits of strength training (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
Exercise Training and Energy Expenditure following Weight Loss (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Increasing Lean Mass and Strength: A Comparison of High Frequency Strength Training to Lower Frequency Strength Training (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Neuromechanical linkage between the head and forearm during running (2021, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Weight loss effects of circuit training interventions: A systematic review and meta-analysis (2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)