How many calories do I burn doing circuit training?

Circuit training is an exercise routine that involves quickly moving between different strength training and cardio exercises with minimal rest in between. This type of high-intensity workout is designed to burn a high number of calories in a short period of time. But exactly how many calories does circuit training burn? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Circuit Training?

Circuit training involves performing a sequence of exercises targeting different muscle groups with minimal rest between sets. A typical circuit may include 8-10 exercises that are completed one after another. Once the full circuit is complete, you repeat the sequence 2-3 times total. Common circuit training exercises include:

  • Bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, lunges
  • Dumbbell exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses, goblet squats
  • Kettlebell exercises like swings, snatches, cleans
  • Medicine ball exercises like slams, wall balls, chest passes
  • Resistance band exercises like pull aparts, seated rows, leg extensions
  • Cardio exercises like jumping jacks, high knees, burpees

Circuits are designed to keep your heart rate elevated by transitioning quickly between exercises using different muscle groups. This helps burn more calories by incorporating both resistance training to build muscle and steady-state cardio to keep your heart pumping.

Calories Burned Per Minute

How many calories you burn doing circuit training depends on a few key factors:

  • Your body weight – Heavier individuals burn more calories
  • Exercise intensity – More intense exercise burns more calories
  • Length of workout – Longer workouts burn more total calories
  • Circuit structure – More compound exercises and shorter rest periods burn more calories

As a general estimate, you can expect to burn around 10-12 calories per minute during a vigorous circuit training workout. So if you complete a 30 minute circuit, you will likely burn 300-360 calories.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of approximate calories burned per minute based on your weight and exercise intensity:

Weight Low Intensity Moderate Intensity High Intensity
125 lbs 6 cal/min 8 cal/min 11 cal/min
155 lbs 8 cal/min 10 cal/min 13 cal/min
185 lbs 9 cal/min 12 cal/min 15 cal/min

As you can see, the more you weigh and the higher the intensity, the more calories you will burn per minute of circuit training.

Calories Burned Per Workout

Most circuit training workouts last between 30-45 minutes from start to finish. This includes a quick 5-10 minute warm-up, 25-35 minutes of circuit training, and a 5-10 minute cool down and stretch.

Based on the average calories per minute estimates above, here is an approximate breakdown of total calories burned during circuit training workouts of different durations:

Workout Length Calories Burned (125 lbs) Calories Burned (155 lbs) Calories Burned (185 lbs)
30 minutes 330-360 390-450 450-540
45 minutes 495-540 585-675 675-810
60 minutes 660-720 780-900 900-1080

As you can see, a 30 minute circuit burns 300-500 calories depending on your weight. A longer 60 minute circuit can burn up to 1000 calories for larger individuals!

Factors That Impact Calories Burned

While the estimates above provide a general calorie range, the exact amount of calories you burn during circuit training depends on a number of factors:

Your Body Composition

People with more muscle mass and less body fat burn more calories than people with higher body fat and less muscle. Muscle tissue requires more energy to move and sustain, so the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you will burn.

Workout Intensity

Higher intensity exercise burns more calories per minute. Working out near your maximum effort with shorter rest periods will increase the calories burned during your circuit.

Workout Duration

The longer you perform circuit training, the more calories you will burn. Duration can range from 20-60 minutes depending on your fitness level.

Exercises Performed

Full body compound exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups require more energy than isolation exercises like bicep curls. Choosing more taxing exercises will increase calorie burn.

Rest Periods

Minimizing rest between circuit exercises keeps your heart rate elevated, leading to more calories burned. Shorter 15-30 second rest periods burn more calories than longer 1-2 minute rests.

Weight Used

Using heavier weight for resistance exercises requires more energy and will increase calories burned. But make sure to use proper form.

How to Maximize Calories Burned

Here are some tips to help maximize the number of calories burned doing circuit training:

  • Use multi-joint compound exercises like squats and pushups
  • Minimize rest to 30 seconds or less between circuit exercises
  • Work close to your maximum effort by using challenging weight
  • Increase workout length to 45-60 minutes as you get more fit
  • Maintain proper form on all exercises, move slowly and with control
  • Include high intensity cardio like burpees, jump rope between circuits
  • Drink water before, during and after your workout to stay hydrated

Sample Beginner Circuit Workout

Here is an example beginner 30 minute circuit workout to try:

Warm Up: 5 minutes light cardio, dynamic stretches

Circuit 1: Complete each exercise for 30 seconds, rest 15 seconds between each

  • Bodyweight squat
  • Pushups
  • Lunge jumps
  • Plank shoulder taps
  • Burpees

Rest 1 minute after completing Circuit 1 exercises. Repeat Circuit 1 one more time.

Circuit 2: Complete each exercise for 30 seconds, rest 15 seconds between each

  • Dumbbell goblet squat
  • Dumbbell row
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Mountain climbers
  • Jumping jacks

Rest 1 minute after completing Circuit 2 exercises. Repeat Circuit 2 one more time.

Cool down: 5-10 minutes light cardio, full body stretches


In summary, the number of calories burned doing circuit training depends on your body weight, workout duration and exercise intensity. On average, you can expect to burn around 300-500 calories per 30 minute workout. To maximize calories burned, use multi-joint exercises with challenging weight for 30-60 seconds, minimize rest to 30 seconds between sets, and complete 2-3 full circuits.

Circuit training is an efficient and effective way to burn calories and lose weight. Just be sure to use proper form, take brief rest periods when needed, and drink water before, during and after workouts. Start with beginner circuits 2-3 times a week and gradually increase duration and intensity over time as your fitness improves.

Leave a Comment