Circuit training is an excellent choice of workout if you are wanting to target your overall fitness. In fact, it is the perfect mix of cardio and strength training when done correctly. But if you are new to fitness, you might be wondering – is circuit training aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

Well, it’s a good question!

When it comes to starting a new fitness journey, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. Of course, circuit training makes this process much easier. This form of exercise targets multiple muscle groups and fitness techniques all in one workout!

But what exactly is circuit training? And is circuit training aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

These are questions that you will need to know the answer to in order to build an effective, and sustainable fitness plan.

So, we’re going to tell you a bit more about circuit training, and find the answer that lot of people are looking for, is circuit training aerobic or anaerobic!

What is circuit training?

Circuit training is a form of workout that has become incredibly popular over recent years. In fact, if you have ever attended a bootcamp or group workout class at the gym, it is likely you will have done circuit training.

So, what does it entail?

Well, circuit training is different exercises set up at different stations. You complete each exercise for a set time, then move on to the next station and next exercise!

is circuit training aerobic or anaerobic

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Each exercise is designed to target a different muscle group or to raise your heart rate in a different way to the last. This will usually be a combination of weight training and cardio and include 8 to 10 exercise stations.

The key with circuit training is that you move from station to station – or exercise to exercise – without resting.

Ok, so this might sound pretty brutal, but it is an extremely effective way to target your overall fitness if done correctly! It’s also worth noting that the time you spend at each station is relatively short and may only last one minute at a time before you move on to the next!

Let’s take a look at an example of circuit training:

This circuit is completed in 2 rounds, with a 5-minute rest between each round – but remember, no rests between each station!


1: Push ups (30 seconds)

2: Squats (30 seconds)

3: Burpees (30 seconds)

4: Step-ups (30 seconds)

5: Ab crunches (30 seconds)

6: Mountain climbers (30 seconds)

7: Plank (30 seconds)

8: Lunges (30 seconds)

As you can see, in a well-planned circuit, there will be a mix of cardio exercises to keep your heart rate up, and weight and strength training to target all the muscle groups.

But if a circuit contains both cardio and strength training, does that mean circuit training is aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

Well, before we answer whether circuit training is aerobic or anaerobic exercise, let’s look at the difference between the two!

What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise?

The difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is fair simple. One requires your body to use oxygen as fuel for your muscles, and the other, does not.

Man running outdoors

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Jenny Hill via Unsplash

So, when you are doing an aerobic activity, such as jogging, your body is taking in oxygen at a high rate. This is to pump blood around your body and create energy for your muscles.

When you are doing anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting, your body is not taking in excess oxygen to fuel your muscles, it is working from energy reserves within the muscles themselves.

Aerobic exercise: exercise that requires your body to use oxygen as energy for your muscles.

Anaerobic exercise: exercise that does not require your body to use as energy for your muscles.

The takeaway from this is that aerobic exercises are usually prolonged and lower-intensity and anaerobic tends to be short intervals at high intensity.

Let’s take a look at some examples of aerobic and anaerobic exercises:


Ok, so we know that aerobic exercises tend to be longer intervals at lower intensity.

Some examples of this are:

  • Walks
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Jump rope
  • Dancing

All of these exercises increase cardiovascular activity and burn fats and carbohydrates due to the intake of oxygen for muscle fuel. Of course, this makes aerobic activity a great way to target weight loss. Of course, you still need to combine it with nutrient rich and healthy foods, such as green vegetables, protein, and superfoods such as acai berries (we recommend the acai berry bowls – delicious!)

Try it: Acai Berry Bowl recipes!


Woman using resistance band in gym

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As we know, anaerobic workouts are exercises completed in short intervals at high intensity. This is either reps and sets – such as weightlifting, or for short bursts of time – such as sprints.

Let’s take a look at some:

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Sprints
  • Box jumps
  • Calisthenics

Anaerobic exercise may not increase your heart rate in the same way that aerobics does. However, it is still a crucial component to achieving overall fitness and building muscle tone.

You can do anaerobic exercises easily at home. Take a look at these 5 anaerobic home workouts that require no equipment!

Ok, so we now know the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises!

But that still leaves the question – is circuit training aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

Circuit training: aerobic or anaerobic exercise?

The answer as to whether circuit training is aerobic or anaerobic exercise, is not an exclusive yes or no.

In fact, a successful circuit should actually be a combination of the two if you are wanting to target your overall fitness.

Why? Because you achieve overall fitness by focusing on aerobic and anaerobic exercises combined. Together, the workouts will target all your muscle groups, increase your heart rate and get your body working hard!

That being said, circuit training is also tailored to focus exclusively on aerobic or anaerobic exercises depending on your fitness goal. In fact, this is one of the benefits to circuit training!

For example, to build muscle mass, you can incorporate higher amounts of weight and strength training in to your circuit stations. Or, if you want to focus on cardio, you can complete a cardio based circuit that focuses on jump rope, jogging on the spot and mountain climbers.

So, as you can see, circuit training is neither anaerobic or aerobic exercise, but can be both, or either – depending on your preference and goals!

Don’t forget to warm down after exercise to prevent injury or stiffness the following day. In fact, one of the best ways to do that is to use a foam roller which will not only prevent muscle tightness, but also feels great!

The articles on this site are not medical or certified advice, all content that has been created is simply our opinions,experiences and independent research. We strongly advise seeking professional,qualified expert advice from either your GP or a certified medical practitioner before making any changes to do with your health,diet, exercise or habits.