Circuit training has been around for as long as the hills. It’s a favourite method of training here at Wild Geese.
Beyonce - Built by circuit training and hill sprints
The format is simple, lay out a series of exercises and go from one to the next until all have been completed for the desired reps / time. Rinse and repeat. Go to any gym and you’ll probably see something like this going on. Although in most gyms it’s usually run by an aerobics instructor……
For an athlete looking to build strength, power and endurance, even those looking to burn fat, circuit training is a one stop shop, if done right.
Here are a few simple guidelines to adhere to when creating your circuit:
Know what you’re trying to achieve. Don’t just throw out random drills and random times / rep brackets. Have a plan; this is the most important guideline.
Balance the circuit. Most people want a full body workout, so ensure that this is addressed. There’s little point having 4 stations of pressing if there are only 2 pulling and 1 leg station. Even if you’re creating a more specific circuit, such as a finisher for a lower body training session, keep it balanced, use knee dominant moves, hip dominant moves, single leg work, even some plyometric type moves.
Use exercises that complement each other, not compete. You can put squats and lunges together if you like, but will this be to the athlete’s benefit or is causing fatigue for fatigues sake? If you do put two similar exercises together, make the focus of the exercise different, for example a heavy lift followed by an explosive or endurance lift. I often put pull ups and hang cleans together, both work the back and big pulling actions, but the direction is different, as is the focus. A heavy press can be paired with a clapping push up for some nasty contrast training.
Keep it simple Complex drills or drills that require a lot of setting up have no place in a circuit, especially a group setting. A bench press, while a great drill, is awkward as the bar needs changed for varying athletes and time is lost in setting up, unracking and of course, the need for a spotter, better option may be a dumbbell floor press or push up variation.
Control the rest periods This one will depend almost entirely on the plan. A well balanced circuit has “rest” built in, i.e. you won’t repeat a particular exercise until the next round, but there is no true rest. If you’re working conditioning or fat loss, keep the rest periods to a minimum, if your focus is on strength, then a longer rest will be needed between stations and indeed rounds. As I deal mostly with fighters, we often use the boxing format of 2 – 3 minute rounds with a minute off, 4-6 drills maybe performed each round, depending on the focus.
This mornings Boot Camp performed the following series of “mini” circuits:
Short Circuit - Made a man out of this robot
Circuit 1 – Burpee / Pull Up Circuit 2 – Sandbag clean & press / Renegade Row Circuit 3 – Thrusters / Plank (with arm excursions) Circuit 4 – Kettlebell swings / Sledgehammer slams
Each mini circuit consisted of 4 x 30 seconds alternating between the two drills, with 10 second change over’s. This gave two minutes of work. The athletes then took a minute break before moving to the next exercise pairing. To finish we did a single lap of all the exercises in a standard circuit format using the Tabata timer. This Mini Circuit format is fantastic for both fat loss and for conditioning.
Try it for yourself.
The Boot Camp manual is starting to take shape and will include many of the circuits we actually use with our fighters, as well as the guidelines and rational behind how we put these circuits together, as well as the hows and whys of each of the other training days.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)