I'm just beginning training to get burn fat and train in two different sports (Judo and Tennis). I was wondering what were the pros and cons of completing, say 3, sets before going onto the next workout vs. interval training.

  • 1
    Can you try to explain what you're looking for a bit better? Right now I'm not sure what you're actually trying to ask and it seems like you might trying to compare "apples to oranges".
    – Alex L
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 23:43
  • I'm 240lb and looking to do full body workouts 3 days using jcdfitness.com/jcdfitness-beginners-muscle-building-routine . I was curious as to what the difference was between doing 2-5 sets of each workout and then moving onto the next vs. doing 1 set of each workout and then moving on; doing 3 complete rounds of this.
    – Steven
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 0:45
  • What would the difference in results be doing: 3x8 Benchpress, 3x8 Squats, 3x8 Barbell Rows vs. doing: 8 Benchpress, 8 Squats, 8 Barbell Rows. Repeat 3 times.
    – Steven
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 0:45
  • By "interval training", do you mean "circuit" training?
    – rrirower
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 12:29
  • @rrirower Yes, that is essentially what I'm thinking of.
    – Steven
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


This question requires a general answer since the two types of training, as they are, can have many variations in training parameters.

By doing circuit training you can complete the training session in a shorter time while maintaining the intensity: by working out another muscle group while the first one rests you effectively shorten the time spent working out. Shortening the time of a training session leads to lower levels of cortisol post-exercise, which shortens the recovery time between sessions.

Circuit training puts a greater total stress on the body (partly due to shorter rest periods, but even with equally long rest periods) since more muscles are in a fatigued state at the same time. This can possibly contribute to the stimulation of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.

Doing complete sets allows for a more complete recovery between sets of the worked out muscle, as well as lowers total body fatigue (build up of lactate etc. in the blood) compared to circuit training. This allows for higher power outputs during lifting, and as such greater gains in strength.

As a sprinter, focusing on pure strength without hypertrophy, I only employ complete sets. However, if striving for hypertrophy, or strength endurance, then circuit training can be of more value.

Advantages of complete sets

  • Possibly a higher strength gain
  • Lower fatigue, easier to finish

Advantages of circuit training

  • Allows for a shorter training time
  • Presents a higher training stimulus
  • Do you have a source regarding the effects on cortisol levels post-workout? Mostly out of curiosity ...
    – Alex L
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 0:46

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