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Different training methods explained

by Harry 5 minutes read

Last updated: 10 May, 2022

There’s plenty of confusing jargon in the fitness world and with so many training methods out there, it's difficult to know which is best for you. So, to save you some time, here’s a breakdown of the most popular training methods out there.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is the most common training structure you will see in the gym. It uses a combination of six or more exercises with short rest periods between them. Each exercise is performed for either a set number of repetitions or a certain amount of time. One circuit is counted when one full rotation of every chosen exercise has been completed. Multiple circuits are often performed in one training session, with breaks between each circuit repetition.

Circuit training ensures keeping a high heart rate and pushing cardiovascular and muscular limits.

Resistance Training

Resistance training is most simply referred to as weight training, but the term refers to any exercise that includes pushing or pulling with resistance. This can be achieved with dumbbells, barbells, weight machines, resistance bands and much more. But resistance exercises don’t just belong in the gym, for example: sprinters improving explosiveness with resisted running exercises.

Most traditional resistance training uses dumbbells or a barbell to perform for a specific number of repetitions with the aim of improving muscular strength, size or endurance.

Resistance band

Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises are used to tackle one specific muscle group ‘in isolation’, rather than affecting multiple groups at one time. Isolation training can even get more specific as an exercise can be used to target a specific part of a muscle in one group, such as an individual head of the three found in a tricep.

While isolation exercises can be very simple, they are best used once you have built good overall strength, so are typically used in more advanced training routines.

Interval Training

Interval training is similar to circuit training in that it consists of exercises performed with breaks between. The difference is that you can use interval training for just one exercise. It is typically used for cardiovascular exercises, such as running, rowing and cycling, as a way to work harder than you could during a continuous effort.

It consists of a series of short bursts of intense effort and activity which could last from just a few seconds to minutes, depending on the exercise. For each interval you work at a set intensity for a set period of time or distance and follow this with a set recovery period.

Kettle bell swing

Fartlek Training

Fartlek is a Swedish term roughly translated to ‘speed play’.

This style of training originated from outdoor running where athletes would naturally vary their pace according to the terrain and how they felt.

The main purpose of Fartlek training is endurance conditioning, where continuous exercise puts our aerobic energy system under stress but combined with variations in speed or intensity, it improves both the anaerobic and aerobic systems.


Supersetting refers to performing two exercises back-to-back with no rest period between.

There are typically two different ways of performing supersets:

  • Competing Sets: using two exercises which use predominantly the same muscle groups
  • Non-Competing Sets: using two exercises which use opposing muscle groups

Continuous training

Continuous training is a form of exercise that is performed at a sustained level of intensity without rest periods. This training type is usually applied to aerobic activities like running and cycling and is great for improving cardiovascular fitness.

Depending on what you are trying to achieve from your workout, you can perform continuous training at a low, medium or high level of intensity for a broad range of exercises.

Compound exercises

Compound exercises are the opposite of isolation exercises – they use more than one joint or muscle group at the same time. This tends to be the case with most broader exercises, like running and swimming. Gym fanatics will tend to isolate muscles and muscle groups in a single training session to get the most reward for a specific area.

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