Circuit Training: The Importance of Attitude

Circuit training is any routine of exercises repeated quickly in succession with minimal rest between sets. There are many forms of circuit training: alternating bursts of high-intensity aerobic activity such as running or jumping rope with conditioning (i.e. strength training) exercises such as ab or arm routines, or even just moving quickly through conditioning exercises. Rests should be as short as possible, which for me means no pause between exercises and a count to five between sets.

This short article on discusses some of the benefits of circuit training if you are interested.

Don’t rob yourself of success

I have always struggled with circuit training, ever since beginning work with a personal trainer when I was about ten as part of my figure skating training. My trainer would scold me for not moving between exercises fast enough. I made excuses about needing water or needing to pee in order to sneak a longer break. It’s pretty much common knowledge among fitness experts (I am not one!) that moving quickly between exercises is more effective than taking longer breaks. What I was doing was basically sabotage.

Ten years later, I still make excuses to rest longer than I should. I take a sip or five from my water bottle, I skip through countless songs on my iPod, etc. Drinking water while exercising is important and I can’t stress that enough, but it’s also far from necessary to drink after every exercise. Motivational music is good, too, but is finding a song I want to hear more than another song worth more than getting a good workout?


This past weekend, I headed over to the local high school’s outdoor track for a quick run with my brother. My brother is really into fitness as well and probably reads up on it even more than I do, so after our runs I asked if he would show me some new exercises to work my core. He didn’t yell at me when I rested too long, but something he said when I was struggling with one of the exercises really hit home.

He told me: “Don’t cheat yourself.”

I’ve heard “don’t cheat” before. “Wiggling is cheating.” “Butt on the ground.” “Curl down slowly; don’t fall back.” But I had never thought of it as cheating myself when I had bad form or rested too long.

Suddenly, my whole perspective changed. No longer was I disappointing others by cheating. I was only hurting myself.

Today, I thought like that. During my ab circuit, whenever I felt like taking a break or lapsing into bad form, I reminded myself of what my brother had said. “Don’t cheat yourself.”

With such a simple attitude change, I found it far easier to motivate myself to move from exercise to exercise, set to set. Even with today’s increased repetitions, I was able to push through and found myself itching for more.

It’s obvious attitude before and during any workout is going to affect the experience, but let me tell you, it’s a lot more satisfying to go home knowing that I did well for myself than it is to go home thinking, “At least I did something.”

Next time, try thinking about how what you’re doing is for yourself, rather than just thinking about how you have to get it done.

Don’t cheat yourself.

9 thoughts on “Circuit Training: The Importance of Attitude

  1. You are so right. I was just given a circuit program too. I was told no longer then 90 seconds between sets. I need to be challenged so I need to be pushed or I get bored.
    I took Mum to pilates with me today and she loved it.
    I observed something between bouncing around at your and Georgie’s blog. You both have the same fav-icon but diff colours. 😀

    And in regards to the comment you left about my web pages. I love what you do here. Keep it up. I now have a new everything … new domain, new host, new, new, new. 😉

    1. Yes we do! I think you’re probably the first one to notice. She found this one for me ages ago, then last week she told me she found the same one in that goldish color and asked if she could use it because she thought it would be fun to match. 🙂

  2. It’s so funny how something so simple can be an aha moment for us. But that was some pretty good advice. I believe that exercise totally has a lot to do with your mental state. I can say that I’m going to work out every day and mean it but when it comes time to act, it’s so easy to make excuses why I can’t.

  3. You and your brother are both epic people, and I’m sure that in real life I’d admire you both a lot, as someone who has had the angel/devil routine for cheating myself from exercise.

    I once had an English teacher who commented that Dr. Phil tells too many of his clients on TV to just look at things differently – she said that he was probably correct, but it got annoying and repetitive on TV. But I guess that it’s good, common advice after all!

    1. I think it’s really hard to take someone’s advice if all it is is, “Just look at things differently.” No one can tell you to have a positive attitude and then BAM, you have a positive attitude. It takes work, that’s for sure. Baby steps!

  4. Oh my goodness, just reading this post makes me need a rest!
    Haha, I am so lazy when it comes to exercise, I don’t even bother with excuses, I just rest.
    It’s terrible, I know, like you say I’m only cheating myself D:

    I really like your layout by the way, so simple but lovely ^D^

  5. “Don’t cheat yourself.”

    That can actually work in many ways for different people… I don’t really know how to explain what I mean as far as how it worked for me, but thanks for the post. :3 Maybe I’ll be able to blog about it later.

    For now, it’s going on an owl sticky note and being placed on my mirror.

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