Competition and Circuit Training

Circuit training is a great way to prepare for sporting competitions with timed rounds, and it’s a great way to burn more calories and cut weight. Circuit training combines multiple exercises together, performing them consecutively with little rest between each exercise. You can arrange the flow of your circuit, varying it by reps, time, and different weights. You can change and create new circuits using machines, free weights, or body weight; circuits can be designed to target one muscle group or work out your entire body.

Choosing how you want to circuit train, all depends on what you’re training for. When focusing on your overall health, the freedom is yours to pick and choose your circuit style. If you’re training for timed sports, use the timed set method. Mimic your training time to the length of each sporting round you’re training for. (3 minute sporting round = 3 minute circuit set, length of rest break between sporting round = rest time between sets) Divide the round length by the number of exercises you’ve chosen, (usually 3-5) and this signifies how long you’ll do each exercise. It’s rare that you’ll want to train by rep variables for a competition, unless the competition is based on completing reps in a given time.

Exercise selection is another important aspect of circuit training. When you’re training for competition, it’s a good idea to train large muscle groups, with multi-joint movements. Incorporate exercises like squats, presses, and pulls or full body movements like a snatch or, a clean, and try to avoid single-joint movements like bicep curls and tricep extensions.(unless you can justify why it is an important movement to your sport and worth repeating for 45 seconds or longer) Use exercise movements that are relevant to your sport.
There are also many variations of executing your circuit. A circuit can work out your entire body, or you can use each round to target a specific muscle group, or certain section of your body. You can change repeat the same exercises, change them every time, and you can always change the progression of the entire circuit from start to finish.  

Your workout schedule depends on how you train, and what your training goals are. Are you training to compete, and how intense are the technical aspects of your competition? Are you in a recovery phase of competing? (i.e: if you’re an MMA fighter, did you just have a fight?) Are you trying to maintain your skills, or constantly improve them?
With answers to these important questions, you can determine the fine details of your training program, and prevent over or under training yourself.

Creating a good circuit can help you advance through your chosen sport, and help you advance into it. Take the time to figure out and understand the important technicalities (prime movers or full body exercises, sets and rest time equivalent, etc.) and remember to have fun!

Steven Moore About Steven Moore

Passionate Personal Fitness Trainer, and NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist at Blitz Conditioning. Prone to spurts of random nonsense. [Read my full bio]


  1. Great post Steven, Thanks for all the helpful information!

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