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Power Circuits

In the last post we talked about circuits and I gave an example of a series of short or mini circuits I often use for conditioning my fighters.

This time around we’re taking the humble circuit and approaching it from an entirely different angle.

Usually circuit training is used to build conditioning or to burn fat, the Curves franchise is built around this entire principle (but that’s as far they got..), but what if we changed a few things and added in some serious weight, what happens then?

Power circuits are something I use with my more advanced guys. You need a good base of conditioning and also be familiar with the exercises if you wish to try this style of training. A power circuit is usually based around 1 or two main lifts, most often the Squat, Deadlift or Clean and Press, whichever you choose it must be a big, full body compound move, and it must suit heavy loads. This lift forms the core of the circuit, the other exercises are slightly less important must train other movements or functions. For example, if you are using the deadlift as the main drill, you may have kettlebell swings, similar movement but different function (heavy grind vs. power endurance).

The number of drills in a Power circuit are up to yourself, but I prefer to keep it to a minimum, usually around 3 covering the whole body. Longer circuits tend to create too much fatigue and detract from the heavy lifting we are aiming for.

Here are a couple of circuits I use for myself and my athletes:

PC-1 Deadlift x 1-3 Standing Russian Twist x 5l/r Dive-bomber Push Up x 8-12

Perform 5 rounds adding weight to the deadlift each round. Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds depending on conditioning. 

PC-2 Deadlift x 1-3 1 arm kettlebell Clean & Jerk x 8-12 l/r Sledgehammer Slams x 10 l/r

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes, adding weight to the deadlift each round

PC-3 Back Squat x 5 Dips x 30sec Chins x 30sec

Perform 5 rounds adding weight to the squat each round.

PC-4 (Power contrast) Deadlift x 1-3 Double Kettlebell Swing x 8-12 Sprint (whatever distance is appropriate to either your sport or fitness)

This one sucks! You won’t be walking anywhere for a week or two, ensure you go heavy on the deads, and as heavy as you can safely manage on the swings. The sprint should be flat out, attempt to hit top speed as fast as possible. Rest as long as necessary to be able to complete the next round, aim for quality of work, not necessarily quantity and build towards 5 rounds.

These are only examples, there’s no reason you can’t come up with your own version using bodyweight drills, strongman lifts or whatever is available to you. Just remember, while the circuit should be done with minimal rest between exercises, rest as long as needed between rounds. Quality over quantity is key, especially as we are playing with heavy weights here.

As I said before, these are for more advanced guys, if you aren’t familiar with lifting, don’t do them until you are, and always use common sense.

How often would you employ a power circuit? Usually about once per week, it fits in nicely at the end of the week as a short sharp shock to finish off with, or slot one in at the end of a strength session (try PC-4 as a finisher after a heavy squat session…)


Next Kettlebell Workshop: 7th November – Level 4, Double Kettlebells, includes the Long Cycle and more.

Next Boot Camp commences 15th November – This will be the last Boot Camp until February 2011 and it’s already filling up fast.

Email for more details (

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