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Circuit training can offer many benefits. Find out what types of equipment can be used to make your circuit training sessions more effective.
Circuit training is a style of working out where you do sequences of different exercises right after each other. This is a very general rule which can include basically any exercise and any piece of equipment.
However, when investing in workout equipment, you can save some money while still having an effective workout by investing in circuit training equipment tools that can be used in many different exercises.
You can definitely start with circuit training without equipment but at some point, you may need extra resistance to make certain exercises challenging enough for a lot of progress.
Keep in mind that even though these equipment options can offer benefits, like with any exercise there is always a certain injury risk. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
1. Medicine ball
A medicine ball is a weighted ball that is made from relatively soft material and doesn’t bounce that well. This piece of equipment is extremely versatile which makes it great for circuit training.
First of all, you can use it like any other two-handed weight as resistance in exercises like squats, wood chops, lunges, bicep curls, tricep extensions, core exercises, and many more.
More unique to medicine balls is that you can use them for explosive throwing exercises. These can be great for training your muscle power fitness component.
Besides that, medicine balls are relatively inexpensive, compact to store, and can be used in both indoor and outdoor circuit training.
One potential downside of medicine balls when it comes to circuit training is that they are not great for one-handed exercises.
2. Jump rope
A jump rope is simply a rope that can be used to jump over at a fast pace. This piece of equipment can be used both as a warmup for your circuit or as one of your cardio exercises in the sequence.
Jumping rope is a great way to get a variety of exercise benefits which include burning a lot of calories, improving cardiovascular health, improving lung health, engaging muscles, improving coordination and balance, etc.
On top of that, a jump rope is definitely one of the cheaper circuit training equipment options on this list. It also requires basically no storage space and you can bring it with you wherever you go both indoor and outdoor.
One thing to keep in mind is that jumping rope can be relatively rough on body parts like knees and back. As long as you don’t overdo it this can lead to stronger bones but your injury risk does become higher. Jumping on a softer surface like a grass field can be helpful.
Something else to remember is that to use a jump rope to its full extent you may need to go through a learning period. Initially, the rope may hit your feet a lot.
A dumbbell is basically a handle with a weight on each side. This piece of fitness equipment is extremely popular both due to its effectiveness and versatility. Two things that are great to have in circuit training equipment.
Dumbbells can benefit basically any circuit training exercise where you would normally have your hands free. And even in something like a pull-up or dip you can clamp a dumbbell between your legs to make the exercise more challenging.
Some other benefits of dumbbells include that they last a very long time, they don’t lose their value very fast, and they have a relatively high weight ceiling.
A potential disadvantage is that similar to other steel circuit training equipment options, dumbbells often require a slightly bigger initial investment compared to more short term fitness equipment.
4. Weighted vest
A weighted vest is basically its name, a vest with extra weight to make your exercises harder. Wearing one during both cardiovascular and strength training exercises will make the movement harder. In turn, this can lead to more circuit training benefits faster.
One of the ways it stands out from other fitness equipment is that it allows you to add weight without using your hands in a place where the weight distribution is relatively “natural”. This is helpful for both burning calories and building muscle.
Weighted vests are great because they are extremely versatile. You can use them in many exercises for many body parts and different exercise categories.
One potential downside is that it does make certain types of exercises, like for example core exercises where you lie on your back, less convenient in your circuit training.
You can take off the weighted vest, do the core exercise, and put the weighted vest back on but this does mess with the flow of the sequence.
5. Plyo box
A plyo box, also known as a jump box or step box, is simply a box that is strong enough to deal with jump exercises. You can however also use a plyo box for a wide variety of other exercises, which makes the plyo box a good piece of equipment for circuit training.
Some of the circuit exercises you can do with a plyo box include the box jumps, step-up, incline or decline pushups, “bench” dips, Bulgarian split squats, pike pushups, etc.
Besides its versatility, another benefit of the plyo box is that it is a sturdy piece of equipment that can last a long time.
There are also some potential downsides to the plyo box. The first one is that it requires a decent amount of storage space. Secondly, good plyo boxes can be a bit pricey for their relatively specific training exercises.
6. Resistance bands
Resistance bands are an inexpensive type of fitness equipment that are basically elastic cords. This piece of circuit training equipment allows you to add resistance in all directions instead of just against gravity like free weights.
On top of that, it is possible to loop resistance bands around your legs. This also enables you to add resistance to for example inner and outer thigh exercises. You can basically train all of the important muscles with the help of resistance bands.
Some of the other benefits of resistance bands are that they are relatively inexpensive, easy to store, and very portable.
One downside is that resistance bands are not the type of circuit training equipment you can use for the rest of your life. At least every few years you will need to replace the last set with new resistance bands.
For certain exercises you will also benefit from a resistance band anchor somewhere. For circuit training you may need to invest in multiple anchors at different heights. This way you can keep up the tempo without having to adjust anchors in between exercises.
A kettlebell is a metal ball with a handle on top, usually made of cast iron or cast steel. This form makes them not only a good option as resistance in traditional exercises but also great for swinging exercises like a kettlebell swing.
Some of the benefits of kettlebells include that they also last a very long time without much reduction in value. Even after using them many times, kettlebells will have a very similar sturdiness and strength.
Additionally, you can find kettlebells at relatively heavy weights, use them in one-handed exercises, etc.
A potential disadvantage is that kettlebells often require a slightly bigger initial investment compared to some of the other options on this circuit training equipment list.