How Circuit Training Works

Circuit Training at Home

You may be the type who prefers the freedom of outdoor running over the monotony of a treadmill. Or perhaps the idea of fighting to grab a spot at the weight machines in between laps before your heart rate slows is a bit overwhelming. If this sounds like you, then circuit training at home may be a better option.

Let's go back to the two sample workouts we looked at in the previous section. Though it may help to go to a location where the distances are already measured out, you can still do the running part on a jogging trail, sidewalk, track, the beach or wherever there's a safe surface. With a little creativity, you can improvise various strengthening exercises with minimal equipment. Resistance bands like those used in pilates offer unlimited possibilities. They're lightweight and can fit into your pocket or a waist pack. You can adjust them for more or less intensity. Then there's playground equipment like the parallel bar or the top beam on a swing set that you can use to do pull-ups, dips and chin-ups. You can do lower-body exercises like squats, lunges, leg lifts and hops with no equipment at all, but small dumbbells, wrist weights, weighted vests, or even plastic bottles filled with water or sand make for a challenging workout. Then there are bodyweight exercises like planks, crunches and push-ups that require no equipment, either.

Here's a sample workout for a 10K that you can do without equipment. Whether you run indoors or outside, the key here is that you're not tethered to a set of weight machines.

  1. Run 1600 meters at 10K pace.
  2. Do 20 bench step-ups on each leg.
  3. Run 800 meters at 5K max pace.
  4. Do 20 one-leg squats on each leg.
  5. Run 400 meters at 3K or vVO2 max (100-percent VO2 max) pace.
  6. Do 20 stride step-ups on each leg.
  7. Run 800 meters at 5K pace.
  8. Perform 25 meters of double-leg forward hops.
  9. Run 1600 meters at 10K pace.
  10. Perform 25 meters of single-leg forward hops.
  11. Run 1600 meters at 10K pace, and then speed up to 3K or vVO2 max pace for 400 meters.
  12. Perform one basic core strength routine.
  13. Run 1200 meters at 10K pace, 800 meters at 5K pace and 400 meters at 3K or vVO2 max pace with no recovery between the three paces.

[source: Morris]

Whether you're a sprinter or a marathon runner, you can create a circuit training workout to achieve your goal. Keep in mind that circuit training won't replace the intervals you need to run to work on endurance, but will complement them to improve power and speed. In fact, each of the sample workouts we just reviewed may remind you of interval training, but they're not exactly the same. Stride on over to the next page to learn the difference.