The Circuits That Keep On Giving
There are mixed reviews with circuit training as it is with of other methods. These days when you think of Circuits, you think of Crossfit and getting in as many rounds as possible in a certain amount of time. Although that's great for an advanced person but for someone starting out, it can put them in the hospital or in an unwanted grave. Circuits are done where you mesh a certain amount of exercises and do them without rest until you have completed 1 round. Most people can't handle that fast pace and high form of intensity because it takes far more than just strength & endurance, it becomes a mental game of chess and some are great for beginners but others are mostly for those in decent shape. Those long cardio sessions on the treadmill are practically useless unless you plan on training for a competition of some sorts. You'll gain endurance for sure but you'll also lose muscle mass and the ability to burn fat efficiently. If you want a quicker workout that has the same benefits circuits would be the way to go. You can get in a great workout in under 30 minutes with proper rest periods between sets.
Although circuits are good in some order, some of the exercises they put people through most of the time are either boring/generic or far too much for someone to handle when they're not prepared for it. You can however mix your favorite exercises you do know and can use your imagination with to get awesome benefit out of. The key secret to circuit training is not always about speed and short rest periods (although they can be a great factor as you progress) but more on a steady pace with as good of form as possible. You want to have nearly as good form at the end just as much as crisp in the beginning. Once you start slouching and you're in need of an iron lung than you need to stop. If your form or pace is deteriorating as you go along, you can have some severe problems in your joints, muscles and tissue in the ligaments. I'm not a huge fan of plyometrics and I don't think you need to jump as high as possible 10-20 times per circuit so I personally believe especially for those who have had injuries and such ought to keep circuit training as low impact as possible and use very little to no equipment. Unless you're in a specific sport or in need to get in serious shape fast, some equipment would be good to use but really Bodyweight is best.
One site I highly recommend that has circuit workouts for every level of fitness is Darebee where you can choose from well over 100 workouts and programs for your specific goals and needs. This is the next evolution from Neila Rey. These workouts even have themes that anyone can relate to; superheroes, movie characters, books, anime, military, Primal, Circuits For Swimming & Sports and way more than I can mention. These give you an idea on how to take a cool pop culture idea and turn it into a kick ass workout that will have you begging for mercy while having fun as well. Nobody really likes those boring and generic exercise systems that really have no value to the individual who's looking for something interesting to do. I'm all for using the imagination and utilizing basic and advanced exercises to build skills for your everyday life. I didn't like circuits very much until I came to Darebee and found a new realm of ideas to use. Plus it's all free and you can download and print out the workouts into little cards for you to travel with so you don't always have to get on the internet. These are truly some of the very best exercise programs around today and take less time to do than it is to get the gym, dress and getting on a machine (which you may need to wait for). They have programs for strength, weight loss, High Intensity, realistic cardio, fat burning, stamina, flexibility and speed. There are no excuses and you can switch exercises around to suit your needs and goals, modify them if you have to you have that option. They have levels of progression that are simple and straight forward; you can work out up to 3 levels of sets (or 10 sets total in some workouts) and learn how you can make your own progressions.
I'm a hard working guy when it comes to training and have put myself through some of the most intense workouts imaginable so I can safely say if you want to be in great shape, you need to know what your fitness level is otherwise you can get injured or burned out; I was doing Level 3 type workouts for about a week or so and just didn't have it in me afterwards and ended up quitting for a while because I pushed it way too much and I was already in good shape. Build up and remember you don't need to go to the highest level every single workout and because of the limitless amount of circuits at Darebee not every workout is the same, so learn how to adapt and modify a bit so you can get to that high level on a consistent basis but not a frequent basis. If you only have enough in you for 2-3 rounds that day do so but don't push so hard you'll pass out or end up having some kind of lung problem from lack of pure deep breathing oxygen. Keep a close eye on what you do so you can make the very best of it. Circuits are great but if you're not careful, it can bite you in the ass and chew it with a vengeance. There are even custom type workouts in the forum section of the site where you'll find circuits not found in the cards such as the Tarzan Workout, Godzilla, Indiana Jones and others; I even came up with a circuit that professional wrestlers used when they trained and it takes even the most advanced people down for the count. Research on circuits and find what can be suitable for you and make it work for your needs, not for the sake of being able to do them. Have fun and keep going my friend.