What is circuit training and how is it different from crossfit complexes?

Apr 29, 2021 by Adam Addison
what is circuit training and how is it different from crossfit complexes 609bcf96aca89

Considering crossfit and other areas of modern fitness, one cannot but touch on the topic of circuit training, which is basic for many sports. What is it and how does it help beginners and professional athletes? Consider further.

General information

Circuit training has been widely used almost from the very inception of non-core sports disciplines. However, it received a systematic justification with the development of weightlifting fitness directions.

In particular, Joe Vader is considered one of the key figures in the formation of circuit training, who created his own split system as opposed to unsystematic training. However, due to opposition, he created the basic theoretical system of substantiation of circuit training, the principles on which it is based today.

Circuit training for all muscle groups, according to Weider’s definition, is a high-intensity training method that should engage all muscle groups and become maximum stress for the athlete’s body, which will stimulate his body to further transformations.


Circular training for all muscle groups implies compliance with certain principles that distinguish it from other types of training:

  • Maximum stress load. Maximum stress – stimulates the body to more intensive recovery, which allows you to achieve certain results much faster. However, in the beginning, you shouldn’t do every exercise to failure.
  • High intensity training. Allows you to develop not only muscle strength, but also related energy systems (for example, the work of the cardiovascular system). There is no break between exercises in the circle or the minimum is 20-30 seconds. Rest 1.5-2 minutes between circles. The number of circles is 2-6.
  • Short training time. Short training times make it affordable for most athletes. As a rule, such a lesson fits into 30-60 minutes (depending on the number of laps).
  • The presence of a rigid specialization. The principles of the development of circuit training imply only the load on all muscle groups. The type of load determines the factor of specialization of the main sport.
  • Full body workout in one workout. Usually, one exercise is allocated for each muscle group. At the same time, the order of their elaboration changes from training to training. For example, on the first day, you start with a chest exercise, on the second day, from the back, and so on.
  • The intensity of the load on different muscle groups is determined by their size and susceptibility to stress. Basic exercises should be used predominantly.

In bodybuilding and fitness, circuit training is used by beginners who find it difficult to immediately perform heavy multi-joint exercises with free weight, and during the drying phase. Gaining mass based only on circuit training will not be effective. At this stage, the use of such a system is advisable only within the framework of the periodization of loads.


Like CrossFit, circuit training is only a training methodology that does not determine the further profiling of an athlete. The foundation laid down in the basic principles of such training allows you to create variability in accordance with the needs of the athlete: from classic training, which is used in all areas related to weightlifting (bodybuilding, powerlifting, etc.), to combined athletics training with emphasis to develop functional capabilities (Tabata, CrossFit, etc.).

Let’s take a closer look at the main options for circular training in the table:

You need to understand that these types are presented solely as an example, since absolutely any type of training can be built on the principles of basic circuit training. For example, workout or boxer training, each of which has a combined nature and allows you to combine the principles of Tabata and athletics, or powerlifting and crossfit.

Long Term Specialization

Considering the exercises for circuit training and the principle of its construction, it can be noted that it is never used by athletes throughout the year. It makes sense for beginners to study on such a system for 2-4 months. Experienced dryers can use circular exercises for 2-3 months. At the recruitment stage, it will be rational to set one week of circuit training every 4-6 weeks as part of the periodization of loads.

Using circuit training is constantly ineffective, as the body gets used to this type of load, which reduces the effectiveness of the training.

Always running program

For those looking for the perfect workout routine, here’s an example of a circuit workout that’s perfect for experienced athletes and beginners with at least minimal hardware experience:

In total, you need to perform 3-6 such circles, the first of which is a warm-up. Rest between exercises – 20-30 seconds, between circles – 2-3 minutes. In the future, you can increase the intensity of your workout by increasing the number of circles, working weights and reducing the time for rest. In total, the program implies its execution within 2-3 months, after which it is better to switch to the classic split.

Note: division by days of the week remains conditional and implies adjustment to your own training schedule. You don’t need to do this more than 3 times a week.

The main advantages of this approach to training are:

  • Lack of specialization in certain muscle groups. This allows the athlete’s body to be prepared for the loads in any specialization in the future.
  • Versatility. Weight on apparatus is determined by the fitness of the athlete.
  • Short training time. Unlike other sports, the canonical circuit training can be done in 30-60 minutes.
  • Ability to create adjustments and replace exercises with analogs according to individual preferences.

Circular vs crossfit

Crossfit, as a direction of fitness, grew on the basis of precisely the principles of circuit training, followed by an emphasis on the development of functional strength. Despite the large number of athletics, gymnastic and coordination exercises in the Crossfit Games competition program, it can be noted that athletes with a major specialization in heavy exercises always take prizes.

Based on all of the above, we can conclude that CrossFit combines the principles of circuit training, organically processing them in conjunction with other basic principles of fitness to achieve optimal results.

Circuit workout is perfect as a pre-workout for CrossFit or fits seamlessly as one of the weekly WOD programs.

In summary

Knowing what a full body circuit training is, and understanding the principles of training, you can adjust the training program to suit your needs. The main thing is to remember a few rules regarding the circuit training complex for CrossFit training:

  1. Use periodization to avoid stagnation.
  2. Constantly changing profiling exercises (while maintaining load balancing).
  3. Save intensity level and training time.