Circular workout

Written by: Vojko Strojnik, Ph.D.

Circular workout is most commonly used as a mild form of strength workout. It is used when we want to achieve relatively large muscle strength, but we are limited by time, space, energy, and other factors. It is commonly used by athletes as an introduction to strength workout and for muscles that are not key in terms of a sports discipline. Circular workout derives its name from sequential implementation of a series of exercises. A group of exercises is selected that we implement in a given sequence. When we have performed all of the exercises, we then repeat them. This execution of all exercises in a sequence is called a series or circle. In a circular workout we usually implement one to three series.

The main objectives of a circular workout are increased muscle activation and endurance (in terms of power). Circular workout is not effective for increasing muscle mass. In addition to improving muscle strength, circular workout can also have positive effects on endurance, if it is implemented so that we have high pulse rate during the workout.

We usually choose 8 to 12 exercises in a circular workout, distributed in such a sequence that the same muscle groups are not normally worked one right after another. We can choose gymnastic exercises, exercises with small tools or exercises using trainers. There are several systems for organizing the implementation of the exercises. The most commonly used systems are the number of repetitions in one series and the one minute cycle. With the number of repetitions in a series, we implement a certain number of repetitions for the first exercise and then begin to implement the second exercise. When we have implemented the proper number of repetitions for the second exercise, we start to implement the third exercise, and so on. Prior to the implementation of a new exercise, you can take a short break.

The minute cycle is implemented on a time basis. We implement exercise/repetitions until the specified time runs out. Rest then follows. In the minute cycle, the duration of work and rest until the following exercise takes one minute. For example, if you work for 20 seconds, you rest for 40 seconds. Implementation usually starts at 10 seconds and lasts up to 35 seconds. At that point the exercise usually is no longer effective, and either needs to be replaced or made more difficult with an appropriately shortened time.

Example of Load in a Circular Exercise:

Load -- (Value in parentheses is the number of repetitions)

An Example of Circular Workout Load
Week NoSer. Work Break Pace
1 3-5 repetitions of an individual exercise* Learning exercises    
2 3-5 repetitions of an individual exercise* Learning exercises    
3 2 10 50 Fluent
4 2 10 50 Fluent
5 2 15 45 Fluent
6 3 15 45 Fluent
7 3 15 45 Fluent
8 2 15 45 Fluent
9 3 15 45 Fluent
10 2 20 40 Fluent
11 3 20 40 Fluent
12 2 20 40 Fluent
13 3 20 40 Fluent
14 3 20 40 Fluent
15 3 20 40 Fluent
16 2 20 40 Fluent
17 3 20 40 Fluent
18 2 20 40 Fluent
19 3 20 40 Fluent
20 2 20 40 Fluent
21 3 25 35 Fluent
22 3 25 35 Fluent
23 2 30 30 Fluent
24 2 20 40 Fluent
25 3 25 35 Fluent
26 3 30 30 Fluent
27 3 30 30 Fluent

NoSer. -- Number of series

Work -- Duration in seconds

Break -- Duration of the break between successive exercises in seconds

Pace -- The pace of implementation

* Intensity of implementation should gradually increase (from one workout unit to another) from about 50% to the maximum intensity that an individual can handle. Note that the beginning intensity of implementation may be less than 50%, depending upon the health of the individual. Individual repetitions are implemented liquid concentrically.

In order to achieve maximum intensity, choose the workout with stations.