Circuit Training Vs High Intensity Training
Circuit training is a mixture of strength and cardiovascular, or cardio, training. The average circuit training workout usually involves anywhere from 8-12 different workout stations, where you work different muscle groups. You stay at each station for either a certain period of time (anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes) or a certain amount of reps.1
By targeting different muscle groups, circuit training might help reduce the risk of injury due to overuse. You might, for example, do bench presses at one circuit, and then leg presses at another. One part of your body will be resting while you’re performing weight training exercises to strengthen another.2
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
The operative phrase here is "high intensity."
While similar to circuit training, HIIT's major differentiator is the fact that during your moments of exercise, you are exerting maximum effort for a set period of time. This is critical — your exercises should be all-out, no holding back. You burst of exercise are followed by a period of rest.
HIIT workouts are much more cardio-based and typically don't feature strength moves like circuit training. HIIT is much more geared toward improving cardiovascular fitness, and studies show HIIT training's fat burning benefits last far longer than steady-state cardio.
Because of the intensity at which the exercises are performed during HIIT, the total time in the gym can be lower than circuit training or regular split training, and it is not recommended to do HIIT training as your primary training style, as the physical demands on the body can be extreme.
Both circuit training and HIIT can be effective for improving cardio health. In a HIIT session, you perform high-intensity exercises followed by low-intensity movements. This keeps your heart rate up during and even after a session.
Circuit-style training offers more flexibility in your workouts. You can either focus on muscle and core building or squeeze in a cardio station in the circuit if you also want to hit multiple goals in a single session.
Choose what is best for you.