If your usual workout routine is starting to feel dull or is taking up too much of your day, it’s time to add circuit training to the mix.

But what exactly is circuit training? How do you create a circuit training workout plan? And how can it be done by all fitness levels? We answer all this and more below. Plus, we’ve included some of our favorite circuit training workout programs you can do at home at any fitness level.

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is a workout format that stacks exercises together in consecutive order with very little to no rest between sets. In a circuit training workout, you do one set of two or more different exercises in a row before taking a break and repeating the exercises for another set or circuit. This differs from the classic workout formula, where you perform all sets of one exercise with rest in between before moving on to the next exercise.

Circuit training workouts can be done using bodyweight only exercises, free weights, a combination of both, or other various exercise equipment such as resistance bands.

Different Types of Circuit Training

There are many different ways to structure your circuit training workout, including:

Timed circuit

As you might have guessed by the name, a timed circuit is a type of circuit training format that is built based on the time of work and rest. For example, a timed circuit might include a ratio of 90 seconds of work to 30 seconds of rest. The time ratio can vary based on fitness level and available time for the workout itself. For example, if you’re a beginner, you might set up a time ratio of 20 seconds’ work, 40 seconds’ rest. If you’re advanced, your ratio might look like 50 seconds’ work, 10 seconds’ rest.

Strength circuit 

Strength circuits (also referred to as competition circuits) are workouts designed to test your maximum output. Similar to a timed circuit, a strength or competition circuit has you perform as many weight-bearing exercises as you can with good form until you’re unable to safely perform another rep. Once you reach your max, you then move on to the next exercise. Rest during this type of circuit will vary based on the program you’re following.

Repetition circuit

Repetition circuits are based on the number of desired reps for each set. For example, in a repetition circuit workout, the program might ask you to perform 12 reps of each exercise. The amount of time allocated for rest will vary based on the workout plan or platform you’re using, as there is no set time for rest in a repetition circuit. 

Running circuit

Running circuits (also known as cardio circuits or sport-specific circuits) are workouts that focus on exercises to improve your performance in a specific sport. For example, you would perform a leg, arm, or core-strengthening exercise for a set number of reps; then, instead of rest, jog or run easily for 200 to 400 meters. For runners, you can sprint as the “work” part of your circuit instead of a sport-specific exercise.

What Are The Benefits of Circuit Training?

The benefits of circuit training include time efficiency, improved strength and use of the cardiovascular system, mental stimulation, and so much more. 

Here’s a full list of circuit training benefits:

  • Time efficient: With circuit training, you can do a lot in a short amount of time. For example, you can get a full-body workout done in 20 to 30 minutes. The fast-paced and time-efficient nature of circuit training makes it easy to fit into a busy schedule.
  • Improved strength and cardio: Having little to no rest between exercises helps to improve your muscular strength and muscular endurance. It also keeps your heart rate elevated which improves your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness. 
  • Burn calories: Because your heart rate is elevated for the majority of a circuit training workout, your body burns more calories as you go from one movement to the next with little to no rest. If your fitness goal is weight loss, the combination of strength and cardio with circuit training will help you get there.
  • Mental stimulation: Many people struggle to maintain a regular and consistent fitness routine because they get bored of doing the same old workouts. Circuit training is a great way to change up your exercise routine and try new challenging workouts.
  • Can be done anywhere: Well, maybe not anywhere, but it can certainly be done in most spaces. Whether you prefer to work out at home, at the gym, outdoors, with a workout buddy, or while on vacation, you can do circuit training exercises anywhere, as long as you have the space to work out.
  • Can be done with weights or without: With circuit training, you can choose your own adventure and workout using bodyweight only or by weight training with dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, etc. You’re never limited by equipment with circuit training.
  • Good for all fitness levels: Circuit training exercises can be done by anyone at any fitness level. The workout structure allows any exercise to be used as part of the circuit.

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What Is The Best Circuit Training?

The best circuit training is one that's balanced and hits all the muscle groups, such as a total-body circuit workout (which we’ve included below). This approach is perfect if you enjoy doing cardio exercises as part of your weekly fitness routine. An example of this would be:

  • Monday: Full-body circuit workout
  • Tuesday: 5k run 
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Full-body circuit workout
  • Friday: Swim
  • Saturday: Full-body circuit workout
  • Sunday: Walk

You may also choose to split up the different muscle groups you focus on for each circuit. By breaking up the muscle groups that are focused on each workout, you give the muscles used a break while you work out a different muscle group. An example of this would look like: 

  • Monday: Upper-body circuit workout
  • Tuesday: Lower-body circuit workout
  • Wednesday: Core circuit
  • Thursday: Upper-body circuit workout
  • Friday: Lower-body circuit workout
  • Saturday: Walk or run
  • Sunday: Rest

How Long Should You Workout in Circuit Training?

The most common duration for a circuit training workout is 20 to 30 minutes. You can do up to 45 minutes if you’re feeling up for it, but 20 to 30 minutes is the norm (and enough to give you a great workout).

What Is a 4 Circuit Workout?

A four-circuit workout is a training format that includes four different exercises within the circuit. A good four-circuit workout would include a knee-dominant exercise, a push exercise, a hip-dominant exercise, and a cardio exercise.

What Exercises Should Be Included in a Circuit Training Workout?

If you want to build your own circuit workout, you can use the exercises below to follow a four-circuit format. Simply choose one from each category to fill in each section of a circuit. Continue that approach, selecting one new exercise from the categories again for the next circuit, and so on.

1. Upper-body exercises

  • Push ups
  • Chest press (or flies)
  • Overhead press
  • Lateral raise
  • Biceps curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Rows (or reverse flies)

2. Lower-body exercises

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts 
  • Lunges (reverse, split, lateral, etc.)
  • Calf raises

3. Core

  • Mountain climbers
  • Sit-ups
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Reverse crunches
  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Leg lifts

4. Cardio

  • Jumping jacks
  • Jumping rope
  • Burpees
  • Running in place

Here’s an example of a four-circuit workout based on the above:

  • 30 seconds: Push up
  • 30 seconds: Squat
  • 30 seconds: Mountain climbers
  • 30 second: Burpee
  • Rest 60 seconds after completing the full circuit; repeat 2-3 times

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Circuit Training Workouts for Every Fitness Level

Circuit training is for everyone. The important thing to remember before going into any workout is to select the right exercises for your fitness level. Our trainers have put together circuit training workouts for beginners, intermediate, and advanced levels that are guaranteed to work your entire body.

Beginner Total Body Circuit Workout 

30 minutes. No equipment. Bodyweight only.


  • 3 minutes
  • Rest
  • 45 seconds

Circuit 1

  • 50 seconds: Hip bridge
  • 50 seconds: Reverse crunch
  • 50 seconds: Push up
  • Repeat x2
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 2

  • 50 seconds: Deadlift + calf raise
  • 50 seconds: Alternating reverse lunges
  • 50 seconds: Standing cross knee tuck (with your hands behind your head, bring the opposite elbow to the opposite knee)
  • Repeat x2
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 3

  • Bodyweight squats with an alternating twist at the top
  • Bent over flies 
  • Alternating side crunch (with your hands on your head, bring the same elbow to the same knee)
  • Repeat x2


  • 90+ seconds

Intermediate Total-Body Circuit Workout

30 minutes with dumbbells


  • 3 minutes
  • Rest
  • 45 seconds

Circuit 1 

  • 50 seconds: Squat with alternating overhead press
  • 50 seconds: Bent over row
  • 50 seconds: Single dumbbell woodchopper
  • Repeat x2
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 2 

  • 50 seconds: Deadlift + high pull
  • 50 seconds: Overhead press
  • 50 seconds: Crunches
  • Repeat x2
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 3 

  • 50 seconds: Reverse lunge + bicep curl 
  • 50 seconds: Bent over tricep kickback
  • 50 seconds: Side plank + twist (thread the needle)
  • Repeat x2


  • 90+ seconds

Advanced Total-Body Circuit Workout

30 minutes with kettlebell


  • 3 minutes
  • Rest
  • 45 seconds

Circuit 1

  • 50 seconds: Dead bug with overhead extension
  • 50 seconds: Glute bridge with midline press (press the kettlebell away from your chest with both hands)
  • 50 seconds: Bear crawl with kettlebell pass (with the kettlebell on the ground beside your hip, pass or drag the bell underneath you to the other side using the opposite arm and alternate)
  • Repeat x2
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 2

  • 50 seconds: Dead clean and squat
  • 50 seconds: Alternating lateral lunges with a standing halo in between
  • 50 seconds: Walkout to plank + push up (no kettlebell)
  • Rest
  • 60 seconds

Circuit 3

  • 50 seconds: Single arm row
  • 50 seconds: Single arm clean + switch off (with the kettlebell between your feet on the ground slightly in front of you, squat down slightly to grab it with one arm and clean into your shoulder. Return it back to the center between your feet and alternate sides.)
  • 50 seconds: Kettlebell swing 
  • Cooldown
  • 90+ seconds

Want more circuit workouts? Check out our Cardio + Strength classes that are guaranteed get you sweating.

Get professionally designed circuit training workouts straight to your mobile device

If you want to do a circuit workout with a certified personal trainer but don’t want to leave the comfort of your home, you don’t have to. lululemon Studio brings the workout program to you. All you have to do is turn on your Mirror or open the lululemon Studio App. 

Gain access to thousands of circuit training workouts from the best personal trainers in North America. Stream classes live or on demand or book a one-on-one personal training session to get a personalized workout plan, feedback on your form and technique, input on weight selection, and guided warm-ups and cooldowns before and after every workout.

Are workouts feeling dull? Try our at-home circuit training workouts with the lululemon Studio App and spice things up. Become a member today and get FREE access to our full library of circuit training workouts for 30 days.