Circuit training is a combination of cardio and strength exercises. Circuits range from as few as three exercises to upwards of 15. The goal of this training is to complete the circuit to boost your body's strength and endurance.
After each circuit, you'll need some downtime to recover. The optimal rest time between sets for you depends on your fitness goals and your physical condition.
Why Do Circuit Training
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) reports circuit training is one of the leading fitness trends. Circuit workouts are gaining popularity because they aren't as time consuming as other workouts but are still highly effective for enhancing physical fitness.
Strength circuits alternate between upper and lower body exercises so one portion of the body can rest while the other is in motion. In general, rest time is minimized as much as possible. The typical circuit training session takes about 20 minutes to complete.
Short rest periods allow for a highly efficient workout that frees up time for additional exercise. Because of this, most people take about 20-30 second breaks between sets. Taking a longer period of time to rest somewhat defeats the purpose of circuit training. After all, circuits are designed to maximize your workout time.
Why Rest Is Important
The amount of time you rest between circuits plays a significant role in how you feel and how much your workout changes your body. If you don't rest long enough, you burn out quicker. If you rest too long, your workouts lose their intensity. Studies have shown that growth hormone and testosterone are generated in higher levels when you rest for moderate to short periods of time. Rest will also give the body a chance to build muscle.
The bottom line is your muscles and your body's central nervous system require time to recover from work. Failing to rest will reduce your ability to lift, push, run and move freely. Insufficient rest will also reduce your rate of recovery and affect your performance in later exercises.
How Long Should You Rest?
In general, you should give yourself a minimum of 15 seconds and maximum of 60 seconds between circuits. That said, there is no perfect number that applies to every single person. You need to rest as long as it takes to catch your breath and move to the next station with energy and confidence. If you feel like you aren't pushing yourself hard enough, shorten your breaks. If you're overheating, extend them. Just remember to always have some break between circuits.
Rest may not seem like a big deal, but it has the potential to make or break your workout. Don't attempt to teach yourself all the ins and outs of proper exercise and fitness. Get a specialized trainer to help you build the body you've always wanted.
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