High-Intensity Circuit Training (HICT) is a fast intense workout that can be done anywhere and is appropriate for all participants of all ages and skill level. HICT combines resistance and anaerobic exercises in conjunction with using large muscles groups to attain intensity; making the training effective and efficient. High-Intensity Circuit Training includes bursts of vigorous activity followed by lower intensity activity or short rest periods. A circuit consists of six to eight total body exercises that alternate between strength and conditioning at specific intervals. Circuits will alternate between muscle groups and vary the intensity of movements allowing for some rest between muscles and energy systems while maximizing work capacity.
The compound strength and conditioning exercises are taxing on the central nervous system. These exercises paired with lower intensity movements create efficient recovery. To maximize intensity the intervals are kept between 30-60 seconds. Throughout a circuit an athlete goes from one movement to the next with very little recovery time making HICT more challenging than other high intensity programs. High intensity circuit training is short, strenuous, and effective methodology that is beneficial for all who are up for the challenge.
HICT creates rapid changes in endurance levels, overall performance, body composition, and fat-burning capabilities. Recent studies have shown doing short ‘sprint-type’ training increases endurance capacity and improves metabolic adaptation faster than traditional steady state cardio (Kinnunen, Piitulainen and Piirainen, 2017). Circuits with intense strength and conditioning movements improves fat oxidation. Fat oxidation is the body’s ability to burn fat. Additionally, HICT increases glucose metabolism, which equates to greater fat loss.
Performance improves through the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can use during an intense workout, which is known as VO2 max levels. When VO2 max increases the body is able to handle more stress and train harder because it is able to transport and use oxygen more efficiently (Sperlich et al., 2018). An advantage of performing compound strength exercises in HICT, is a process known as EPOC. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, is the amount of calories that is burned after a workout, which will help burn fat and boost metabolism. EPOC occurs at a maximal level when the compound strength movements are combined with very little rest between sets. An increase in EPOC allows the body to elicits metabolic and aerobic benefits during HICT. There are many reasons to do high intensity circuit training whether you want to build lean muscle, reduce body fat, improve performance, or increase endurance. It is practical, efficient, and an accessible way to train. Try the workout below to experience a circuit for yourself and start reaping the benefits of HICT.
Gibala, M. and McGee, S. (2018). Metabolic Adaptations to Short-term High-Intensity Interval Training . Sperlich, B., Wallmann-Sperlich, B., Zinner, C., Von Stauffenberg, V., Losert, H. and Holmberg, H. (2018). Functional High-Intensity Circuit Training Improves Body Composition, Peak Oxygen Uptake, Strength, and Alters Certain Dimensions of Quality of Life in Overweight Women .