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How to Set Up Circuit Training Stations

Circuit training combines cardiovascular exercise with strength training. Circuit training includes a warm-up, followed by a succession of strength-building exercises at stations (in between which you walk fast or run), followed by a cooldown. You get to decide how long your total workout will be, how many stations you’ll include, and what exercises you’ll do at those stations.

A circuit training station can be just a spot where you do pushups; it doesn’t have to be anything fancy.

Your local gym may have a circuit-training class or may have a self-paced circuit routine that you can do on your own time. You can also easily set up stations in your own home. If you have a weight machine, you’re way ahead of the game and can do most of the weight-lifting exercises there. But if you don’t, gather up the following inexpensive equipment and set up stations in your exercise room, spare bedroom, (dry) basement, garage, backyard (in good weather), or any other place you can think of:

  • A sit-up mat or thick towel (for sit-ups, push-ups, crunches, Pilates exercises)

  • One pair each of 5-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and/or 15-pound weights (for curls, shrugs, upright rows, punches, and so on)

  • A weight bar with however much weight you can handle for squats

  • A sturdy chair or ledge (for chair dips)

  • A pull-up bar secured in a doorway (for pull-ups, hanging abs)

  • A stairway or step (for step-ups, single-leg squats, toe raises)

Arrange each of these so that they’re 10 to 20 feet apart; a circle or square can work, but so can a zigzag pattern, as long as you have some room to walk quickly or run between stations. If you need to place the stations closer than this — say, right next to each other — that’s fine. Just do jumping jacks, jump rope, or run in place with high knees for ten seconds between exercises.

Be sure to arrange your circuit so you alternate stations that use similar muscles. In other words, do an exercise for your abdomen, then arms, then legs, then your back, and then go back to abdomen, arms, and so on. Or, if you want to do an arm-intensive circuit, set up a station for your arms, then legs, then arms, then back, then arms, then abdomen, then arms, and so on. Either way, give your muscles a little time to rest before working them again.

At each station, you can do several different exercises. However, you can easily forget what exercise you’re supposed to do when you get to a station, so you may want to put a sheet of paper at each station that lists, in order, the one, two, or three exercises that you’re planning to doing there.

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