CIRCUITS and HIIT – what are they?


At Lichfield we do 2 styles of circuits classes. Some are circuit based in the usual sense and some are HIIT (high-intensity interval training) based. But what’s the difference?

One thing is very similar between the two: They both provide great ways to get in a killer workout in a shorter window of time. For you busy people looking to become fit, these styles of workouts could be for you.

Circuit Training

Think of circuit training like this: You typically have anywhere from 4-8 to exercises, almost all of them of the strength training variety (i.e. using weight), and you want to complete all of these moves within a certain time frame or rep range as quickly as possible.
Not clear enough?

Let’s say you only have 30 minutes to workout but you still want to gain muscle and drop body fat., so you decide you want to do a total-body circuit. It might look something like this:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes, resting 2 minutes in between rounds.

Bent-Over Dumbbell Cobra – 12 reps

Alternating Dumbbell Hammer Curls – 12 reps each arm

Dumbbell Bench Press – 12 reps

Dumbbell Walking Lunges – 10 reps each leg

Alternating Dumbbell Shoulder Press – 10 reps each side

Single-Leg Medicine Ball Lift-and-Chop – 10 reps each side

In between moves of the circuit, you’re not necessarily running from one area of the gym to the other to complete the next exercise, but you aren’t wasting time either. No checking your phone, no stopping to chat. Head down. Work on.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

The key 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. Your bursts of exercise are followed by a period of rest.

HIIT workouts are much more cardio-based and typically don’t feature as much strength work like circuit training. HIIT is much more geared toward improving cardiovascular fitness and studies show HIIT trainings fat burning benefits last far longer and steady-state cardio. Due to 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. It is not recommended to do HIIT training as your primary training style, as the physical demands on the body can be extreme.

For more information about Circuits and HIIT, speak to any member of the Wellness Team