Research: Circuit training assists with weight loss

Research DefinitionResearch Definition

Research indicates a positive link to effective weight loss and fat loss to the use of circuit training.

Exercise with Kettlebells
Exercise with Kettlebells

Circuit training is a form of body conditioning or resistance training using high-intensity aerobics or interval training. It targets strength building and muscular endurance through stations of repeated exercises. An exercise “circuit” is complete once all prescribed exercises or stations in the program have been performed. At the completion of the circuit, exercisers that the repetition again until a number of them are complete.

Circuit training is an age-old method of exercise that I was commonly tortured with in high school. It is nothing new but it is still used in athletics and the military to promote increased fitness. Today, it is just another method of interval training, but it is none-the-less effective at inducing a higher level of strength and cardiovascular fitness.

The good news is that research from 2019 also indicates that this form of exercise is effective at inducing weight and fat loss​[1]​. This study was a meta‐analysis that looked at prior studies to show a link. The researchers aimed to assess the weight loss effects of circuit training interventions in adults. The analysis was restricted to randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effects of circuit training interventions on body weight and body mass index in adults aged 18 years or older.

Nine randomized controlled trials with 837 participants were included in the analysis. Significant intervention effects were identified for bodyweight with 7-10 pounds lost on the average for the overweight and obese respectively. Body mass index also decreased by – 1.77. Both of these findings were significant statistically. Analysis by body mass index status showed that the intervention effect was significant only in participants with obesity or overweight but not in those with normal weight.

The bottom line: Circuit training effectively reduces body weight and body mass index (hence body fat) in adults with overweight and obesity. If you can tolerate it, I recommend adding it to your path to better health. Discuss it will a medical provider if you do nto exercise regularly.


  1. [1]
    Y. Seo, H. Noh, and S. Y. Kim, “Weight loss effects of circuit training interventions: A systematic review and meta‐analysis,” Obesity Reviews, pp. 1642–1650, Jul. 2019 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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