Interval Training or Circuit Training

Interval Training or Circuit Training

Have you been reading magazines or watching videos about people who’ve got in the best shape of their lives through interval or circuit training?  Maybe you’ve thought about trying out one or both of these fitness modalities, but were unsure if they were right for you.


Figuring out which format is right for you can be a daunting task.  It’s easy to get information overload, but don’t worry, they both provide great benefits and are pretty straight forward.


High Intensity-Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is performed by completing a high-intensity exercise for a predetermined amount of time, followed by a short period of rest.  Workouts will typically follow a 2:1 format.  For example: jumping jacks for 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds of rest.


Here is an example of a commonly used HIIT workout:

  • Push-up x 30 sec.

  • Rest x 15 sec.

  • Air squat x 30 sec.

  • Rest x 30 sec.

  • Jumping jack x 30 sec.

  • Rest x 30 sec.

  • Sprint x 30 sec.

  • Rest x 30 sec.


Some of the benefits of HIIT are improved endurance, enhanced metabolism, and may allow you to lose fat and preserve muscle.  Another reason that HIIT might be something to consider is that it burns more fat than steady state cardio such as jogging.


Performing HIIT is ideal for those who don’t have a gym membership because many of the workouts can be performed with nothing more than bodyweight.


A disadvantage of HIIT could be that it’s not completely safe for everyone.  If you have training limitations such as knee or back issues, the training intensity could be too much.  Your form may also suffer during the later rounds as you get more and more tired


Circuit Training

Circuit training is usually performed at a moderate pace, but instead of timed intervals, you will perform each exercise for a predetermined amount of reps.  You will only rest went you have completed all the exercises.

Here is an example of a typical circuit training workout:

  • Push-up x10

  • Lat pull-down x10

  • Dumbbell squat x10

  • Dumbbell curl x10

  • Triceps extension x10


One of the biggest benefits of circuit training is that you can build muscle while improving endurance.  You can also get workouts completed in a short period of time.


Unfortunately, you may need to use a lot of equipment (dumbbells, barbells, machines) in the gym.  This means it could be hard to get all your exercises setup due to space limitations.  You may come back to your third exercise only to find someone sitting on your bench.


It may not be a matter of which modality is right for, but which one do you want to try first.  In fact, there are many people that regularly perform a combination of the two during their workout week.

Your training week could look like this:

  • Day 1- Interval Training

  • Day 2- HIIT

  • Day 3- Interval Training

If you’ve had some reservations about trying HIIT or circuit training—you shouldn’t.  Both workout formats can be beneficial, same time, and are a great way to change things up.


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